Monthly Archives: October 2019

Halloween Trick orTreat: Neil Gaiman Reads Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven”

Best played after dark, by the light of a single candle.

Preferably during a thunderstorm.

Mai Thai — Lunch on 23 October 2019

Mai Thai

Mai Thai

Got my flu shot last week, and gave myself a little reward for bravery in the face of that harrowing medical ordeal by having lunch at Mai Thai on the way home.


A Brief Aside

Tyler Cowen, author and proprietor of the indispensable Tyler Cowen’s Ethnic Dining Guide, made one of those observations that seems obvious in retrospect, but hadn’t occurred to me until I read it:  “All food is ethnic food”.

Well of course it is.

“Ethnic food” has become the term commonly used to identify food from Asia, Africa, and Central and South America, but my beloved soupe à l’oignon and confit de canard are just as much “ethnic foods” as my beloved phở and bánh mì.

And my worldview became a tiny bit broader.


Curry Puffs

Curry Puffs

I started my meal with some nice crispy fried wonton stuffed with curry, minced chicken, potatoes, and onions, served with a plum dipping sauce.

Chicken Peanut Sauce

Chicken Peanut Sauce

For the main, I had boneless chicken breast sauteed with fresh ginger in a light yellow curry on a bed of steamed spinach topped with peanut sauce, with a side of jasmine rice.


Visitors to the US from Europe and Asia frequently comment on the relatively huge portion size in American restaurants. (I remember once sitting near a German lady who corrected her server for bringing her the wrong order. “I ordered a small salad”, she said. “That is a small salad”, he replied.)

I was reminded of this when I noticed that during the hour I spent ar Mai Thai, everyone who left the restaurant—including me—was carrying a “doggy bag”.

A very good meal. Correction: Two very good meals.

Moving Sale Find of the Year

For decades, this 8½ x 11painting hung over a hotplate in a kitchen in Compiègne, a small city north of Paris. It had been in the family so long that the 90-year-old woman who lived in the house said she had no idea where the painting had come from or how it had come into the family’s hands.

Last summer, the woman decided to sell the house and move, so she called in an auctioneer to assess whether anything in the house was salable. Everything else would be hauled off to the dump.

Philomène Wolf, representing the Actéon auction house, noticed the painting immediately. She thought it was a work of Italian primitivism, and urged the owner to get an expert evaluation. If she was correct, the little painting might be worth as much as €400,000.

Infrared reflectography confirmed the age of the painting and identified the painter. It was part of a work created in 1280, and it was painted by Cimabue, the 13th-century Florentine painter who is known as the forefather of the Italian Renaissance.

Last Sunday, the painting, now known as “Christ Mocked”, was sold at an auction outside Paris for more than €24,000,000—the highest price ever for a medieval painting.

According to The Guardian, “About 100 other objects from the house were sold for around €6,000 and the remaining furniture and decorations were disposed of at the local dump.”

The Crown — Season 3 Official Trailer

Back in August, Netflix released a teaser for the upcoming third season of The Crown. and gave us our first real look at Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth II.

Today we got the first full trailer.  We’re into the mid-60s now, and the times—and the cast of The Crown—they are a-changin’.

The Radio Times ran a great write-up about the new cast last week, and I’ve gleefully stolen plagiarized borrowed its comparison shots of the actors in the series and the people they portray.


Olivia Colman plays Queen Elizabeth


Tobias Menzies plays Prince Philip


Helena Bonham Carter plays Princess Margaret


Josh O’Connor plays Prince Charles


Marion Bailey plays the Queen Mother

Season Three of The Crown arrives on Netflix on 17 November 2019.

New, Improved Version of Titanic

And it didn’t cost nearly as much as the original!

This is from Studio 188. From the I’ve found on the Net, I think they’re Russian, but beyond that I can’t find much information. They’re supported, in part, by Patreon contributions.

I’ll be posting more of their very clever “Low Cost Videos” soon.

From the Estate of Jacqueline Kennedy’s Sister

Yesterday, Christie’s New York held an auction of items from “The Collection of Lee Bouvier Radziwill”. The socialite, who became Her Serene Highness Princess Caroline Radziwill on her 1959 marriage to the Polish aristocrat Prince Stanisław Albrecht Radziwill, was best known as the younger sister of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, a circumstance that she didn’t particularly enjoy.

The sale total was $1,266,000.

Here are some of the items from the collection. (Images from Christie’s website.)

A pair of Indian silver-gilt, enamel, and hardstone-mounted censers and covers
20th century
Price realized: $8,125


A Limoges porcelain yellow-ground armorial part dinner service
20th century
Price realized: $10,625


A North European rosewood side chair
Late 19th/early 20th century
Price realized: $2,750


A Victorian ebonized and verre eglomise side table
Circa 1860
Price realized: $4,750


A pair of decalcomania table lamps
Late 19th/20th century
Price realized: $4,750


And the Definitive Bouvier Signature Item

Two pairs of fashion sunglasses, Gucci
Late 20th century
Price realized: $2,750