Category Archives: Out of the Past

Happy birthday, Queen Victoria!

Victoria, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Queen, Defender of the Faith, Empress of India, was born on 24 May 1819, 200 years ago today.

That was “Victoria” by the Kinks, from the album Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire). Queen Victoria had been dead for 68 years when the Kinks recorded the song in 1969. Another couple of decades, and “Victoria” will be closer in time to the Victorian Age than to our own brave new world. Boats against the current….

“Canada to India
Australia to Cornwall
Singapore to Hong Kong
From the West to the East
From to the rich to the poor
Victoria loved them all.”

If you pay close attention to the lyrics, you might catch hints of the band’s signature working-class rage peeking through all the exaltation, but we’ll ignore that for now. Victoria’s bicentennial gives good Anglophiles everywhere a reason to celebrate, from the West to the East.


Home Again

In lesser news, I’m back from beautifully gloomy Budapest, and ready to resume posting.

I dined well, and you’re gonna hear all about it.

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New Tales of the City

“When I first got off the bus years ago, I had the strangest feeling that I’d come home.”
—Laura Linney as Mary Ann Singleton in Tales of the City

Oh, yes, Mary Ann, in this you are not unique. The first time I was in San Francisco, I had exactly the same feeling.*

And now, thanks to Netflix, we’re going home again.

“inspired by the books of Armistead Maupin, the new Netflix Limited Series Tales of the City begins a new chapter in the beloved story. Mary Ann (Laura Linney) returns to present-day San Francisco and is reunited with her daughter Shawna (Ellen Page) and ex-husband Brian (Paul Gross), twenty years after leaving them behind to pursue her career. Fleeing the midlife crisis that her picture-perfect Connecticut life created, Mary Ann is quickly drawn back into the orbit of Anna Madrigal (Olympia Dukakis), her chosen family and a new generation of queer young residents living at 28 Barbary Lane.”

Tales of the City had its start as a three-times-a-week serial in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Author Armistead Maupin mixed real and (mainly) fictional characters to capture the essence of San Francisco in the 1970s.  Maupin succeeded in doing for The City what Tom Wolfe failed to do for New York in Bonfire of the Vanities, probably the most overrated novel of the late 20th century. The column became must-read material, and a cult was born.

The first novelization of the serial was published in 1978, followed by five more volumes published at two-year intervals, with three more books released after a 20-year gap.

In 1993, Channel 4 (UK) turned the first book into a superb miniseries, which was shown on PBS in the US in early 1994. Here’s the trailer:

Good news! That original series is currently streaming on Acorn.

The new series will be released on Netflix on 7  June  2019.


Bonus Track

The great Laura Linney makes an uncredited appearance in this video for the also-great Aimee Mann. Watch closely, and see if you can spot her.


* Granted, I also had exactly the same feeling the first time I was in London, and the first time I was in Paris. Never had it in my own hometown,  though, for some reason….

North Bergen High School’s Alien. The Story Just Keeps Getting Better

Remember the North Bergen (New Jersey) High School production of Alien that went viral last month? After audience members posted a few key scenes from the play to YouTube, it was praised by everyone from Phil Murphy, the Governor of New Jersey, to Ridley Scott, director of the original film, and Sigourney Weaver, who starred as Ripley in the Aliens movies. Scott was so impressed that he donated $5,000 so that the North Bergen kids could stage it again for a limited run. The encore production opened Friday night.

Guess who showed up to surprise the cast and crew, and to introduce the performance.


Redditor Gato1980 posted this video of Friday’s full performance:

Gato1980 also posted the timestamps for key scenes: The Face-hugger scene is at 29:00, the Chest-burster scene is at 48:30, the alien reveal is at 54:08, the alien attack scene is at 1:10:45, and Sigourney outro is at 1:24:50.

2019 Cookery Project — Easter Lunch

Easter Lunch

Easter Lunch

A full plate. It’s a holiday!

Clockwise from the top, we have rosemary roasted onions, made with garlic, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, and rosemary, then sliced leg of lamb, with more garlic and more rosemary. There’s a dab of store-bought mint jelly at six o’clock.

The star of the show was the serving of Brussels sprouts with onion and crumbled bacon.

Rating

★ Disaster. Inedible. Poisoned the cat.
★★ OK, but once is enough.
★★★ Mixed results. Something went wrong, but might try this again.
★★★★ Good, but lacks that special something. for the onions.
★★★★★ Excellent. Goes into my “This is a winner” file. for the Brussels sprouts.


Lamb to the Slaughter

This seems an appropriate place for a certain memorable video.

From 1955 through 1962, Alfred Hitchcock hosted a television anthology series called Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Hitchcock only directed 17 of the 268 episodes—in those days, a television season could run to 40 weekly episodes—but he hosted all of them, displaying the famous Hitchcock dark humour during his introduction and closing comments to each show, and mildly trolling his advertisers before the mid-show commercials. His appearances were sometimes the best part of the episodes.

Here’s one of the classic Alfred Hitchcock Presents stories, written by Roald Dahl, starring an absolutely-perfect-in-the-part Barbara Bel Geddes, and directed by A. Hitchcock himself. It’s called Lamb to the Slaughter.

Jared Leto Is 47 Years Old

He posted this picture to his Instagram account last week.

And somewhere in a locked room, a portrait of Jordan Catalano has aged terribly.


My So-Called Life
It Gets My Vote as the Best Pre-Golden Age Television Drama Series

My So-Called Life was the Skam of its day. It ran for one 19-episode season way back in 1994-1995, and it was one of the first television shows to develop a passionate online following in those early years of the Internet. Claire Danes starred as Angela Chase and Jared Leto played Jordan Catalano.

Stranger Things: Season 3 — New Trailer

There’s a new trailer for Stranger Things: Season 3.

It’s the Fourth of July, 1985, and Hawkins, Indiana, is ready to celebrate. Ronald Reagan is in the White House, “Sussudio” is at the top of the charts, and the gang probably stayed up late last night, talking about the newly released movie, Back to the Future.

What could possibly go wrong?

[Insert ominous Stranger Things theme music here.]

We won’t find out until the Fourth of July, 2019, when Stranger Things: Season 3 premieres on Netflix.

Meanwhile, how times change…. For me, at least, the most shocking scene from the trailer was not the appearance of the scale-covered slobbering tarantula monster thingy, but the image of a man lighting a cigarette in a restaurant.

it just seemed so wrong….

Berlin, 1945. How It Really Ended

I was randomly clicking old Reddit bookmarks last night, and rediscovered my all-time favourite posting from the site’s fakehistoryporn subreddit. The title explains what’s happening in this recently unearthed photo.


“Adolf Hitler, along with an unknown German child, tries to flee the ruins of Berlin. Unfortunately for the Führer, Josef Stalin has been personally sent to Berlin and has other ideas.”


Originally posted to Reddit by iScottish.