Category Archives: Out of the Past

Dorothy Parker 125th Birthday Celebration

Wish I were in New York for this year’s birthday party! Here’s what’s happening at the Celebration.


“In youth, it was a way I had
To do my best to please,
And change, with every passing lad,
To suit his theories.

“But now I know the things I know,
And do the things I do,
And if you do not like me so,
To hell, my love, with you!”

—“Indian Summer” by Mrs Parker

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“Five Years, That’s All We’ve Got”

Well, that was fast…

I started posting these notes five years ago today, and 1,645 postings later, I’m still at it. Today I took a look at some of the items I ran during my first few weeks online.

Some Things Haven’t Changed


Music Videos

Here’s the first video I ever posted: “70 Million”, by the Paris-based, Franco-American band Hold Your Horses.

It was complemented by another video about the inspirations for the images in the “70 Million” video. Try playing them simultaneously.

Still posting music, and still love this one.


Saying Goodbye to Breaking Bad

Was it really five years ago? For me, Breaking Bad was the Greatest Series Ever, and I still post about it at the drop of a pork pie hat.

No change; still obsessed.


Anglophilia

Rule Britania.

Dorothy Parker said she hated to talk to people from the UK, because they made her feel like she should be carrying a papoose on her back. I, on the other hand, am a pushover for anything said in one of the 684 recognized British accents.

And I love British comedy. Here’s Chris Turner, performing at The Glee Club, Cardiff:

Still a passionate Anglophile, still posting a disproportionate number of entries about the UK, even though Britain’s future looks grim, because of the self-inflicted damage resulting from Brexit. But then, it’s probably inappropriate for an American to criticize Brexit, since that was only the second most idiotic electoral result of 2016.


Restaurant Week

Summer Restaurant Week 2013 was what gave me the incentive to start blogging, and gave me the material I needed to get through the first few weeks.

Still at it. Posting Summer Restaurant Week 2018 pictures over the next two weeks.

 Some Things Have Changed, Thank God


On the left, the first Home Cooking picture I ever posted, long before my self-improvement Cookery Project started in 2016. On the right, the most recent Home Cooking picture

2013’s Poached Halibut and Asparagus with Basil-Tarragon Sauce vs 2018’s Cajun Chicken and Rice

I remember being so proud of the halibut, because I’d never poached fish before that.

I think my skill set and style have improved since then.


Much more to come in the next five years!

“A Lady Thinks She’s 60”

I probably don’t have to remind anyone that today is Madonna’s 60th birthday, since I assume most people spent the day celebrating.

“It’s a celebration
‘Cause anybody just won’t do
Let’s get this started
No more hesitation
‘Cause everybody wants to party with you.”

But now that the candles have been blown out and the birthday cake has been reduced to crumbs, here’s one last thing to commemorate the event.

Back in the early 90s, Madonna released a film called Madonna: Truth or Dare, a behind-the-scenes documentary about her most recent tour. Never one to leave well enough alone, the brilliant Julie Brown satirized it with a one-hour Showtime film called Medusa: Dare to Be Truthful, with Brown herself as Medusa, a dead-on parody of Madonna herself.

After it ran on Showtime, a VHS version the show was available but soon went out of print. The only place to find a DVD copy is on Julie Brown’s website.

But there’s always YouTube.

Someone has posted a murky copy of that VHS version, divided into six parts. It was probably posted back in the days when YouTube had time limits on videos.

Here’s the first segment. The other five parts are on the sidebar that shows up when you play it.


Credit Due: I was never a big Madonna fan. I would probably have been unaware of Madonna’s birthday if I hadn’t seen a reference on Kenneth Walsh’s great blog.

Head over Heals — The Go-Go’s Meet the Elizabethan Age

Like most people, whenever I hear the music of the 80s band The Go-Go’s, I ask myself why nobody has used those songs as the score for an updated version of Sir Philip Sidney’s 16th-century Middle English book, The Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia.

Head over Heals, which does exactly that, has opened on Broadway.

Although he’s largely forgotten now, Sidney played a huge role in the public life of the Elizabeth Age. He was elected to Parliament at the age of 18, and later became the son-in-law of Sir Francis Walsingham, Queen Elizabeth’s spymaster. A contemporary of Shakespeare, who “borrowed” part of Arcadia and used it as a subplot in King Lear,* Sidney was a writer, a diplomat, a courtier, and a soldier. His life was as varied and exciting as that of the great 19th-century adventurer, Sir Richard Burton.

Head over Heals celebrates some of the recurring dramatic/comedic devices of Elizabethan theatre. The show includes big helpings of cross-dressing and gender fluidity,  so common on 16th-century stages and so timely five centuries later. Everything old is new again.

And of course, plots that feature mistaken identities never go out of style.


Damn, They Were Good!

Here’s the original 1984 Go-Go’s video for “Head over Heals”:

The 80s might have been the Golden Age of alternative/indie/powerpop/whatever music. For haircuts, not so much. I think that hairstyles almost always go out of fashion after 10 or 15 years, and look silly and embarrassing until a few decades later, at which point, they’re appreciated as classic.

Three and a half minutes of The Go-Go’s is simply not enough. Here’s the video for my favourite Go-Go’s song:


*Shakespeare did that sort of thing much too frequently.

“It’s not plagiarism, it’s an homage”, Shakespeare never said, but he should have.

Look Out, Jamie Lee! He’s Back!

Forty years after the release of John Carpenter’s Halloween, Michael Myers is heading home. A new Halloween, which will be the 11th film in the franchise, retcons away all but the first two films in the series and takes place four decades after the events in those two movies.

Carpenter is the executive producer of the new episode.  Jamie Lee Curtis is back as Laurie Strode, now a grandmother. And, for the first time since the original movie. Nick Castle will reprise his role as Michael Myers.

It’s scheduled for release on 19 October 2018, just in time for…oh, you know.

50 Years Later, There’s a New Print of 2001: A Space Odyssey. And It’s Drop-Dead Gorgeous.

This MUST be watched in full screen!


Thanks to Christopher Nolan, there’s a new 70mm print of Stanley Kubrick’s classic 2001: A Space Odyssey. Nolan saw the film as a child in London, and, like many people, never got over the experience. in a good way.

After the success of Dunkirk last year, he spent months overseeing the project to create the new print. He emphasizes that it’s not a restoration:

“For the first time since the original release, this 70mm print was struck from new printing elements made from the original camera negative. This is a true photochemical film recreation. There are no digital tricks, remastered effects, or revisionist edits. This is the unrestored film – that recreates the cinematic event that audiences experienced fifty years ago.”

2001: A Space Odyssey opens on 18 May 2018, for limited runs in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and San Francisco, with more cities to follow. You can find ticket and engagement information at the 2001: A Space Odyssey website.

(Speaking of engagements, there’s no word yet on whether the 18 May release date will lead to a postponement of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding, which is scheduled for the next day in Windsor. What a dilemma for those poor guests!)

The recreated edition will be released on DVD and Blu-ray this fall, but you really want to see this on a big screen with big sound.


Here’s the original trailer for the 1968 release of 2001: A Space Odyssey:

“Open the pod bay doors, HAL.”

Brussels Miscellanea

With only one big adventure to go, we’re nearing the end of my time in Belgium. I’ll be posting the last of these travel notes this weekend. Meanwhile, here are a few random images from Brussels.


The Grand Place

The Grand Place, surrounded by buildings that date from the 17th century. is Brussels’s magnificent central square.

It gleams. Many of the architectural features are gilded, and the gold paint glows in the sunshine. These pictures don’t really capture that glow, possibly because it rained every day I was in Belgium. (No problem. I wasn’t in Brussels to work on my tan, or, to be more accurate, to work on my beige.)


I Found a Record Shop!

I used to spend rainy Saturday afternoons making the rounds of the bookshops and record stores near Dupont Circle. There were more than a dozen of them Before The Internet, but only one of the bookshops is still open. Finding this place in Brussels was the first time I’ve seen a record store in years.

The musicians pictured on the storefront, clockwise from the center, are Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon, and Jim Morrison. It took me a while to identify Morrison, and until I noticed the harmonica, I thought Bob Dylan was Lou Reed.


“Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here”

This Big Brother-ish image dominates one of the staircases in the Old Masters Museum.


Théâtre Royal de Toone

The Théâtre Royal de Toone, an historic Brussels puppet theatre, can trace its origins to the 1830s. Depending on the performance, the dialog is in French, Dutch, or the local patois. When the show is something familiar, like Hamlet or Carmen, you can enjoy the performance without understanding every line.


The puppet theatre is in the attic above a rather shabby but extremely popular pub. It’s one of the oldest in Brussels, and it has that run-down, lived-in feel of a classic dive bar.

The Théâtre

During intermission, you can visit the small, one-room display of historic puppets.


Cheesecake

Cheese Cake Cafe

This place looked so American, so not-European that I walked right past it. I didn’t come to Belgium to eat hamburgers or pizza.

And then I turned around and walked right back.

The allure of cheesecake is impossible to resist.