Category Archives: Writing

The Magnificent Jessica Walter

Jessica Walter as “Lucille Bluth” in Arrested Development

The word “fan”, of course, comes from “fanatic”. I’ve been a fanatical follower of Arrested Development since its first episode, in 2003. I thought—I still think—that the original three seasons of the show were the among the funniest, most brilliantly written comedies I’ve ever seen on American television.

That’s part of the reason I was so appalled and disgusted by the patronizing and dismissive treatment of Jessica Walter during the recent New York Times interview with members of the show’s cast.

In 45 minutes, they managed to trash 15 years of goodwill.


The Happy Prince Official Trailer

Rupert Everett’s film about the sad end of Oscar Wilde’s life takes its name from one of Wilde’s short stories. Everett wrote, directed, and starred in The Happy Prince. Also appearing are Colin Firth, Emily Watson, Anna Chancellor, and Tom Wilkinson. Colin Morgan, TV’s Merlin, plays Lord Alfred (Bosie) Douglas.

The Guardian gave it five stars, but other reviews have been less positive.

The film is scheduled for a 15 June 2018 release date in the UK. The Happy Prince played at Sundance, but there’s no date yet for a wider US release.

Where to Spend the Summer — Two Very Different Summer Rentals

Looking to spend some time out of the city this summer, but tired of old standbys like Martha’s Vinyard (if you’re a Democrat) and Mordor (if you’re a Republican)?

Here are a couple of options that will give you so many stories that your “What I Did Last Summer” paper will practically write itself.

Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum

Lizzie Borden took an axe,
And gave her mother forty whacks;
When she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty-one.

Maybe she did; maybe she didn’t.

The jury needed only an hour and a half to acquit Lizzie Andrew Borden of the axe murders of her father and stepmother in 1892, but no one else was ever prosecuted for the crime.

The Fall River, Massachusetts, house where the murders took place is now the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum. You can reserve Lizzie’s bedroom itself for $250 a night. It shares a bathroom with the John Morse Room—available for $275—where Abby Borden’s body was found. 

That website, btw, is a delight, and well worth a look.

Earlier this year, the owners of the B&B bought Maplecroft, the house that was Lizzie Borden’s post-trial residence. She lived there for 34 years, until her death in 1927. They plan to open it as another B&B this summer.

Marilyn Monroe’s Summer Cottage in the Hamptons

If you’re not into sleeping at famous crime scenes, and if you have a lot of spare cash lying around, how about this: The East Hampton windmill house that Marilyn Monroe shared with her third husband, Arthur Miller.

You can rent it for the full summer, from Memorial Day through Labor Day, for $55,000. Or you can lease it for a full year for the bargain rate of $68,000.

According to the New York Post, “Monroe — who fled California for New York in 1954 when her marriage to Joe DiMaggio ended — prepped for her role in the 1959 film Some Like it Hot at the cottage. She was regularly seen driving around town in her Thunderbird convertible.”

Monroe isn’t the house’s only famous former tenant. Other celebrities who have rented the cottage over the years include Ralph Lauren, Terence Stamp, and Kurt Vonnegut, all of whom, I’m willing to bet, rarely got through an East Hampton party without dropping the line: “I’m renting the Marilyn Monroe windmill house for the summer.” Being able to do that is surely worth $55,000.

“Marat We’re Poor…”

I’d known, vaguely, that Jacques-Louis David died during a self-imposed exile in Brussels, but I didn’t know that David’s “The Death of Marat” was in the Old Masters collection in the Royal Museums of Fine Arts. It was a shock to find it there.

The Death of Marat

Seeing it brought a flood of old memories from a very different time, and a certain nostalgia for the person I was so long ago.

Judy Collins Sings a Medley of Four Songs from Marat/Sade.


“Game of Thrones: The Touring Exhibition” — Coming Soon to a Stronghold Near You

If “Downton Abbey: The Touring Exhibition” isn’t your cup of Afternoon Tea, perhaps this will be more to your liking—“Game of Thrones: The Touring Exhibition” has just gotten underway in Barcelona.

Where it will show up next is anybody’s guess, because the tour’s stops after Barcelona have not yet been announced. But with the final episodes of Game of Thrones not expected to air until mid-2019 at the earliest, and with the final book of the series not expected to see print until George R. R. Martin’s heirs hire someone to use GRRM’s notes to complete the last four or five volumes, the tour should run for a long, long time.

According to the tour website, here’s what to expect:

In Barcelona, standard adult tickets for the exhibition range from €10.00 to €18.50, depending on the time and day, which is really reasonable. Expect higher prices when it hits the US.

If you want to see it in Barcelona, you can order tickets here. Barcelona is a beautiful city, and the food there is fantastic. Also, it’s warm in winter, and we all know that Winter Is Coming, don’t we?

“Game of Thrones: The Touring Exhibition” will be in Barcelona until 7 January 2018.