This is a lovely little English Christmas film from 1952, adapted from a 1950 play. A small-town parson’s family returns home to the vicarage for Christmas after he became a widower earlier that year: Son Michael (Denholm Elliott), serving in the military; daughter Jenny (Celia Johnson) who lives at the vicarage taking care of her father, Martin, the parson (Ralph Richardson); and eventually, daughter Margaret (Margaret Leighton), a fashion journalist in the city. Other houseguests include a voice-of-reason cousin Richard (Hugh Williams) and a duo of aunts, deemed by TCM host Ben Mankiewitz as “one grand, the other grumpy” (Margaret Halstan, Maureen Delany).

The ostensible conflict is that caretaker Jenny wants to marry a neighbor, an engineer being sent to South America (John Gregson), but feels she can’t abandon her father. But as the guests arrive it becomes clear the underlying issue is the three children believe they can’t communicate with their father on a personal level, given his religious calling.

Not to spoil a 70-year-old movie, but it turns out Ralph Richardson plays a reasonable man.

Richardson, a prolific English actor, performed from the 1920s to 1983 including as a member and co-Director of the Old Vic and on Broadway. He was nominated for three Tonys, two Oscars and a Grammy.

Leighton also performed with the Old Vic and made her Broadway debut in 1946 as the Queen in Henry IV, also starring Richarson as well as Laurence Olivier. Leighton was nominated for four Tonys, winning two, two Emmys, winning one, and an Oscar; her first Tony, in 1957 for ‘Separate Tables’ came the same year Richardson was nominated for ‘The Waltz of the Toreadors’.

Johnson performed between 1928 and 1981, including on Broadway. She was nominated for an Academy award for 1945’s ‘Brief Encounter’.

Elliott — I recognized him as Marcus Brodie in ‘Raiders’ — has more than 100 film and TV credits. Like his character, he served in the military. A member of the RAF, his bomber was downed in a raid on some U-boat pens and he spent the rest of the war in a POW camp. He debuted in 1949 and performed through 1992, when he died. He was nominated for an Academy Award in 1986 for ‘A Room with a View’.

Halstan debuted in theater in 1895 and acted in her first film in 1916. She performed ‘The Holly and the Ivy’ in both the stage and screen versions.

Delaney, an Irish actress, debuted in 1914. She was nominated for a Tony for 1959’s ‘God and Kate Murphy’.

There’s also a small cameo by William Henry Hartnell, better known as the first Doctor Who.

Richardson, as I said, plays a reasonable man, if a bit aloof. Leighton plays dark and sophisticated, but ultimately vulnerable. Johnson is her opposite: caring and sacrificing herself to keep the family running. Elliott is impish and impudent enough to (finally) speak the truth about the family’s dynamics.

There’s a delightful bit of framing when the Martin is confronting his son about drinking too much, where Martin is standing behind a sparse Christmas tree looking much like a priest concealed in a confessional, rather than a father talking to his son.

It’s such a cozy little play; theatrical even in the filmed version. I’d very much like to see it on the stage, but I sure am glad this film with these distinguished actors exists. At one point Williams’ character says “Cheer up Mick, old boy, in a hundred years we’ll all be dead.” As far as I can tell, everyone involved with the film is, in fact, dead. But their performances have brought me joy for several years now, and hopefully will for many years into the future.


“One regards oneself as an individual, Aunt Bridget. Types are other people.” — Margaret Gregory

“Don’t you know I doubt if half of them have the faintest conception of what I’m here for. They think I’m paid to marry them and bury them and sign their pension papers for them, just like a civil servant.” — Martin Gregory

“You can’t be told the truth. That’s the trouble, the whole trouble.” — Michael Gregory

“I’m out all day scribbling smart, highly paid nonsense that earns the rent of a wonderful flat that I can’t bear to stay in alone for five minutes when I get back in the evening.” — Margaret Gregory

I hadn’t seen the Spielberg version of West Side Story yet and in an indecisive Thanksgiving evening I put it on. It’s as well done as everybody said, but goodness I always forget how much of a downer the story is.

Made some cranberry curd tarts with almond crumb crust. Not quite bake-off level, but the individual components tasted pretty good, so I’m hopeful.

Especially when you don’t know what you’re doing.

Owning your stuff in this context means controlling your content on the Internet, inasmuch as you can control anything about the Internet. When you post to Twitter or Facebook or Instagram, your stuff lives there. It isn’t always easy to get it back out or to switch services. There’s a tremendous amount of “lock-in” because of both your posting history and your developed social group. On the other hand, when I post to this blog, it lives — for now — on a WordPress installation I control, on servers I pay for, on a domain I own. The “for now” there is important because I can (and have) move the content to different platforms as future needs dictate.

I’d had an underused blog for a while, but the concept clicked for me when I started learning about Micro.blog. I’ve been using Micro.blog via this domain for more than five years (and I haven’t really understood it for most of the time). But conceptually, “owning your stuff” seems like a good idea.

I’m going to try to explain my (ongoing) effort to turn this blog into a Twitter replacement. As will become clear, I have very little idea how all this works, and so I’ll likely be using incorrect terminology as well as doing things that are incredibly dumb. If you’re able to kindly point these out to me, I’d sure appreciate it. And I probably still won’t understand.

Writing

I don’t write a whole lot, especially long-form. But I do like having a place to put stuff when the urge strikes. I like being able to share stuff — photos I took, links I find interesting, etc.

I write here, on this blog. The theme I’m using, SemPress marks up stuff to the microformats spec. I have JSON and RSS feeds. I ping Micro.blog, where you can follow me @brentajones.

And then here’s where it’s fuzzy.

Stuff also shows up under @bjones@blog.bjones.net if you search for it at mastodon.social. I think this is happening because of the Activitypub plugin.

Recently I started trying to figure out more about how to be sure people could read me via Mastodon as well as how I could interact with others (following, favoriting, replying, reposting). That led me to Bridgy Fed, which I don’t quite understand. My username there seems to be @blog.bjones.net@blog.bjones.net. And in fact if I search that username at the journa.host mastodon instance, my info shows up (though not my posts). Searching the “other” username on either instance returns nothing.

I searched around a while and found some Bridgy Fed documentation about customizing your username via an h-card with a property using the “acct:” protocol. I attempted to add that to my h-card, but either I did it incorrectly or it seems to not have affected Bridgy Fed. (Update: It now seems that Bridgy Fed recognizes me as “@bjones@blog.bjones.net”. Don’t know if publishing this post gave it a kick or if it was just a timing thing or whatever. But that seems to be resolved. Consequences TBD).

I also seem to have to include a link to the site in every post? Or just when I’m interacting? I dunno. None of that really affects the writing here, just the ways people can discover and read.

Reading

I’d like to replicate a Twitter-like timeline with folks who’ve jumped ship from Twitter. I’ve successfully used Aperture to create a list of folks and Monocle to read it. But I’m not sure I’m doing it right. For one thing, I’m adding each person’s feed manually in Aperture. I think ideally sending a u-follow-of webmention should add them to the list? Or something? I don’t know. Secondly, if I just paste in their Mastodon profile link, Aperture finds a feed but one that doesn’t have any posts in it. I have to manually add “.rss” to the end. And these don’t seem to have profile photos included, and may be limited in other ways.

Interacting

No idea how any of this stuff works. I gather it involves webmentions.

If I make a post including u-follow-of, Bridgy Fed registers that as a follow…but I don’t really know what that means. I don’t seem to show up as a follower on anyone’s Mastodon account. And I don’t know if there’s a way for me to access a list of everyone I follow. Or how to unfollow.

I attempted a repost (u-repost-of), and Bridgy Fed registered it, but said there was an error. But that’s all it says, so I don’t know if the error is something I did (or didn’t do) or on the receiving end, or what.

I don’t know if any of this stuff is working, or how it’s supposed to work. I don’t know what would happen if someone tried to follow or repost or reply to me.

I have a section called “Followers (Fediverse)” under my Users menu in the WordPress backend. Maybe from the Activitypub plugin again? There are a couple people in it (who I recognize).

Conclusion

Owning your stuff is (at the moment, anyway) a lot harder than typing into a 3rd party site and letting someone else figure all this stuff out. But it seems worth it.

If anyone has any good tutorials on any of this, let me know.