Monthly Archives: May 2017

Better Than a Hoverboard!

Remember those hoverboards that Back to the Future promised we’d have by 21 October 2015?

Were you as exasperated as I was when 21 October 2015 came and went, without the slightest need for public service announcements warning kids to always wear a helmet when hovering? Once again, we’d been deceived by the powerful and secretive Media/Flying-Transportation Complex, just as earlier generations had been deceived when they were promised jet packs and flying cars, and taken in by those fake “1969 Moon Landing” movies that were filmed in a North Carolina studio.

We won’t get fooled again.

Because this time, it’s for real. Our wait is over.

Here’s how the game ball was delivered at Portugal’s Cup Final on Sunday:

When Amazon offers a pre-order option, I’ll be the first to sign up.

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Symmetry Breakfasts — Breakfast as an Art Form

One morning back in 2013, Michael Zee made breakfast for himself and his boyfriend, Mark. When he plated the meal, he noticed it was symmetrical, and took a picture of it with his IPhone.

That was the first of several hundred symmetrical breakfasts.

Zee, who was teaching at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, started posting the pictures to his Instagram feed, where they went viral. As I write this, he’s published images of 1,297 breakfasts, and has acquired almost 700,000 followers.

He still gets up by five every morning, to prepare an often elaborate and always beautiful meal. His breakfasts are literally works of art.

(Me, I’m not a morning person—I often get less done in a whole day than some people do before breakfast. If I have any breakfast at all, it’s either a warmed croissant with lots of Irish butter, or cereal with cream (real creamnot skimmed milk, not 2% milk), and some combination of blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, golden raisins, and bananas, which some judgmental people have been known to describe as my “wake-up dessert.”)*

Last year Zee published a book called SymmetryBreakfast, which contains both gorgeous pictures of meals, and 100 of the recipes that produced them. You can see the full collection of Zee’s images on his Instagram feed at  Symmetrybreakfast.

All the photos here were found on the web.


*Ummmm, butter and cream. Gotta keep those cholesterol levels in the “Who wants to live forever?” territory.

Empress Elisabeth of Austria Rides Again

The girl in the painting would soon become Empress Elisabeth of Austria, the wife of Emperor Franz Joseph I. She gave this portrait to the Emperor for Christmas after the two were engaged to be married. It became one of Franz Joseph’s most prized possessions, and hung on the wall above his bed for 60 years, until his death.

It was sold at auction in Vienna last month for €1,540,000 (US$1,721,643).


It’s curious how people, places, and things you’ve never been aware of can make an unanticipated appearance in your life, and gradually draw you in until they become, at least for a while, a prominent part of your existence. An exhibition of Victorian art at the National Gallery totally altered my views on painting, for instance, and led to an ongoing obsession with the Pre-Raphaelites. A few years ago, my appreciation for The Hunger Games eventually resulted in my spending an entire summer reading nothing but teen dystopia novels.

OK, some unexpected tangents are more rewarding than others.

Until a few years ago, I knew next to nothing about Sisi–sometimes written as  “Sissi”–the Empress Elisabeth of Austria. But then in Vienna, I visited the Sisi Museum and the Imperial Apartments in the Hofburg Complex and did The Grand Tour of 40 (out of 1,441) rooms of the magnificent Schönbrunn Palace, the Habsburg imperial summer residence.*

Sisi as Empress

Sisi as Empress

The unconventional and brilliant Sisi has been on my mind ever since. She was a searcher, always looking for something different, something new. She hated court life, and spent months at a time away from the capital, travelling to Morocco and England, Egypt and Corfu, France and Malta, learning languages as she went. She championed the empire’s Hungarian subjects, and they, in turn, idolized her. She was only 16 when she married the 24-year-old Emperor. He loved her passionately; her feelings were less intense.

The more I learn about her, the more I want to know. I just recently discovered that her favorite cousin was another historical figure who has always fascinated me, King Ludwig II of Bavaria, builder of Schloss Neuschwanstein and Linderhof Palace, and patron of Richard Wagner. Researching that relationship immediately landed a spot on my To Do list.


*There are some ravishing pictures of those sites at the links, most of them found on the Net, but a few of them my own. You can also view some pictures of her partially restored apartment in the Museo Correr that I took when I was in Venice this spring.

Game of Thrones Season 7 — Official Trailer

And once again, I’m reduced to quivering fanboy status, unable to come up with anything more insightful than “Oooooh! Oooooh! Oooooh!” I feel the same way I did when Breaking Bad reached those final two seasons: I couldn’t wait to see the next episode, but at the same time, I dreaded the approach of the end of a masterpiece.

I’m not the only one feeling ambiguous about the completion of Game of Thrones. Word is that George R. R. Martin, always eager for an excuse to avoid finishing the Song of Ice and Fire book series on which the show is based, is working with HBO on four or five possible Game of Thrones spinoffs.

Better Call Littlefinger, anybody?

Brilliant trailer, btw, but of course it is.

The penultimate series of Game of Thrones will begin airing in the US on 16 July 2017, with a simultaneous screening in the UK, where it will be 2 AM on the 17th.

Blade Runner 2049 — Official Trailer

It was posted today, and the fanboys went crazy.

We’ve seen teasers for the movie, but this is the first full trailer. If you’re a fanatical—Bladie? Blader? Runnerite? Whatever those people call themselves—you can already find a clutch of videos featuring second-by-second analyses of this trailer on the Web, and enough resultant theories and speculations to keep you busy until the film opens.

Which, btw, won’t be until 6 October 2017.


Here’s a sample of the online user critiques I mentioned. This degree of involvement is what makes a fanboy a fanboy, and proud of it.