5-17-13 A Royal Affair
In A Royal Affair, beautiful young queen Caroline spurns her deranged husband and has an affair with her husband’s personal physician and chief adviser, who nightly sneaks through a kitchen full of servants and up the back stairs to her chamber. What can go wrong? Haven’t they seen the movie? Nope, this is Denmark in the late 1700’s, when King Christian VII, a few smorgas short of a bord, begins to hang with Johann Friedrich Streunsee (Mads Mikkelson), an ardent believer in the Enlightenment and other stuff that scandalizes the Danish aristocracy. My in-house historian, Wikipedia, says the movie was pretty darn accurate. You know how it ends; it’s the ride that counts.
5-15-13 Amazing . . . Inspiring
If I only had that 3-D printer, I could make myself a new see-through dress like the one on the cover of Metropolis’s April issue by designer Iris van Herpern. Click on her name and prepare to be amazed at the photos of her work. Sci-fi writers take note: some awesome costume ideas here!
For a totally different kind of inspiration, Metropolis’s May issue describes how the high-end Italian faucet manufacturer Fantini will be using all the 2013 profits from one of its popular faucet lines (the I Balocchi, pictured below, and available in pretty much any color) to provide ready access to water for the people of Masango, Burundi. Nice tie-in, people.
Highly recommend the new Jackie Robinson biopic, 42 (trailer). The acting is excellent, very believable. Chadwick Boseman as Robinson, Nicole Beharie as his wife Rachel, and Harrison Ford delighting in the role of gruff-voiced Branch Rickey. Yes, we know how the story ends, but reliving the courage of Robinson to stand up to the catcalls, snubs, and physical abuse on the field is so restorative amid the antiheroes and hollow manufactured conflicts that characterize so many movies. The script avoids most of the sports-movie clichés, too. One good exchange—when Rickey is asking whether Robinson will be able to hold his temper when people go after him, as expected—goes something like this: JR: “Don’t you want a man who has the courage to stand up for himself?” BR: “I want a man who has the courage not to. The courage to turn the other cheek.” Great job all around. Love the 1940’s wheels, too!
5-10-13 Le Carré x 2
On May 1, guest news poster David Ludlum reported on the New York Times’s laudatory profile of spy novelist John le Carré, published just before release of the author’s new novel, A Delicate Truth, which involves a corrupt member of the British Parliament, American corporate mercenaries, a tea party financier, Al Qaeda . . . Then the Times’s reviewers warmed up. “Ponderous, heavy-handed and obvious,” said Michiko Kakutani, followed by fellow spy novelist Olen Steinhauer, who says “the narrative dominoes fall with masterly precision.” These dueling opinions are almost as entertaining as the April 15 New Yorker article by le Carré himself, describing his experience as a new author (age 34) running shuttle diplomacy between actor Richard Burton and director Martin Ritt, who were on desperately shaky terms during filming of The Spy Who Came in From the Cold in the mid-1960s. (One tidbit: The name of the novel’s female victim, Liz, was changed to Nan, in deference to Burton’s new wife, Elizabeth Taylor, who might at any time motor onto the movie lot unannounced in her white Rolls-Royce.)
Thanks to guest news poster David Ludlum. His earlier post is in The Morgue.
5-8-13 Assorted Southwest Travel Tips
Phoenix, Tucson, Sedona, Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks.
What to see (Phoenix): The Musical Instrument Museum – “the most extraordinary museum you’ll ever hear.” Architecturally beautiful, much of the museum is organized by geographic area, so you can see the instruments, maybe learn how they are made, hear them being played in concert and village settings. A feast for eyes and ears! Find the instruments that your grandparents and great-grandparents played back in the home country—almost 200 of which are represented in this fascinating and beautifully presented collection.
Where to stay (Tucson): The Tucson estate of cosmetics maven Merle Norman has been converted into a b&b, The Inns at El Rancho Merlita. Wildlife (hummingbirds and javelinas in the same photo!), beautiful surroundings, charming rooms, large saltwater pool, and real Old West public spaces. Memorable, and I wish I were there right now!
Where to eat (Sedona): No doubt there are many great places, but my dinners at the Heartline Café (chat with the bartender, who looks like Duke Ellington) and Cucina Rustica were excellent.
Zion and Bryce (Utah): If you want to stay in the lodges, originally built by the railroads to entice people to experience rail travel, you’ll need to book a year ahead. They’ve upped their food service game, though at Zion, nearby Springdale offers additional options. Take all the ranger tours you can. The rangers (and some volunteers) are well-informed, interested, and interesting. If there’s a stargazing night at Bryce, don’t miss it! Awesome night heavens, rapidly disappearing.
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