1. These New Quarters – Can you believe that these are the first U.S. coins with women on them? Now I know what you’re going to say, you’re going to say, but wait, there was the Susan B. Anthony silver dollar but come on, that wasn’t really a serious coin. How many people use silver dollars? They just did that to placate us.
2. This Documentary about Rita Moreno – I’ve always loved Rita Moreno. She reminds me a lot of my Mom’s best friends but I also think her time on The Electric Company, well, she’s one of those celebrities who you feel like is part of your family, do you know what I mean?
I watched this as part of the Milwaukee Film Festival (you could still buy a ticket, it’s virtual and goes until May 20th). There will be several options for you to see it in the future:
On June 19th the film is going to be shown in theaters nationally
PBS is going to be airing it as part of its current (35th) season of American Masters (probably in the fall or early next year)
And it will be available to stream on the PBS app once it airs (the PBS app is free)
So, depending upon how badly you want to see it (and whether you are already vaccinated) you can seen it next month or you will have to wait a little bit but either way I highly recommend seeing it.
3. This Rental Property – It’s the home of The Royal Tenenbaums! One of the best of Wes Anderson’s films. $20,000/month is a lot of money but there are six bedrooms so if you got five of your friends to join in, $3333/month for a place like this in NYC would actually be kind of a bargain.
Set on the fictional Archer Avenue (real address: 339 Convent Avenue in Hamilton Heights), the 1899-built Flemish-meets-Romanesque-Revival house was built by Jacob D. Butler (who’s also behind the Neo-Romanesque Lincoln Building in Union Square). It’s roughly 100 feet wide (on the side facing West 144th Street), with large bay windows on one end and a turret on the other. Inside: 6,000 square feet cover five levels (the bottom three of which have elevator access), with six bedrooms, six gas fireplaces, and over 50 windows. Plus an inordinate amount of original character: antechambers, stained-glass transoms, closets with skylights, and ornate mantelpieces carved with urns and flowers. It’s renting furnished for $20,000 a month.
4. This Video for the Song ‘Pretty’ by Ingrid Michaelson – Michaelson is a big fan of the show ‘Stranger Things’ and each of the songs on her album ‘Stranger Songs’ is inspired by something from the show. I think this is (IMHO) the best song and I love the video – so empowering.
5. This Anti-Smoking Sign from 100 years ago – Sadly it shows how difficult it is to fight against major companies who have access to politicians. Think about the fact that there actually were people 100 years ago who knew that tobacco was bad for us (not that you needed a rocket scientist to figure it out) and the tobacco industry and even members of the medical profession would promote smoking as being safe. The first warning labels didn’t show up on cigarettes until 1965 with the “The Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act of 1965.”
6. This Instagram – Illustrator Mauro Gatti believes that positive attitudes are the key to reducing anxiety and good mental health. After the year that we all want to forget he started “The Happy Broadcast.” In addition to his Instagram he has a website and a podcast. Check it out for a daily dose of positivity!
3. This New Movie on Netflix, The Dig – based on true events, this is exactly the kind of movie I love. When I finish watching a film and become obsessed with reading everything I can find about the event, looking up to see what was real and what was put in for dramatic effect, I know it was good.
And that most definitely happened with The Dig. One site I like to start with for historical movies is History vs. Hollywood. Not only do they review a bunch of questions about a film – did this really happen, was this true, etc., but they show photos side-by-side of the actors compared to the real-life people.
For example, here is one of the main characters, Mr. Basil Brown played by Ralph Fiennes. Mr. Brown would have been around 51 at the time the Sutton Hoo artifacts were discovered in 1939. Ralph Fiennes is currently 58 so he was probably 56 or 57 when this movie was filmed. Seems like they did a pretty good job here with the casting and of course Ralph Fiennes is an exemplary actor.
Here is another main character, Edith Pretty played by Carey Mulligan. Edith Pretty would have been around 56 when the Sutton Hoo artifacts were discovered. Carey Mulligan is currently 35 years old. Carey was excellent in the role but perhaps they should have considered an older actress? I don’t know why they always do this.
Another person I really liked (perhaps because I love the actress who played her) was Peggy Piggott played by Lily James. Mrs. Piggott was actually only 27 when she worked on the Sutton Hoo excavation. She went on to become a renowned archaeologist and prehistorian under the name Margaret Guido (her second husband’s last name.) She had quite the life. I think I’ll be reading more about her. Unfortunately the only photo the website found (below) is clearly not from when she was in her 20s or even her 30s or 40s for that matter. Not ideal for comparison.
Here’s a painting I found of her that is more around the age she would have been in the film:
And here is a photo I managed to dig up that was included in a slide presentation. I had to do a screenshot to get a copy of it. I’m guessing the person who runs the History vs. Hollywood site didn’t want to do that. Plus, she’s not looking at the camera, but I think it would have been a little better for comparison than a photo of a woman who is probably in her 60s or maybe even her 70s.
One last thing, here is some wonderful information from the British Museum on the artifacts, with photos:
4. This Incredible Herman Miller and Michael Ford collaboration – the iconic Charles & Ray Eames lounge chair, always one of my favorites, taken to a whole new level. Part of a new series called “Conversations for Change,” Ford intends on inserting more activism into the design world, something this is much needed.
“In his first piece of furniture, Michael Ford has remixed the popular Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman (ELO) introduced in 1956 by husband and wife, Charles and Ray Eames as a “special refuge from the strains of modern living” with handwritten names of victims of racism in the US as a stark reminder that these Black men, women, and children were not afforded the privilege of refuge – those who died at the hands of racial actions.”
Individuals who wish to have the chair can make donations and those who make donations over $1000 have an opportunity to be awarded the ELO (or Eames Lounge & Ottoman.) There is only one.
Here’s the really cool part – “Donations from the campaign will fund The Boys and Girls Clubs of Dane County and The Hip Hop Architecture Camp both located in The State of Wisconsin. The two organizations will also create a national #TAKEASTAND grant to support organizations taking a stand against social injustices.”
5. This New Version of the Song “Popular”from the Musical “Wicked” – who doesn’t love Kristin Chenoweth? And damn, that woman isn’t aging! [Warning, this song is going to stick in your brain for days.]
6. This Article on the History of Women on Wall Street – the astonishing and frankly appalling efforts by men to keep women from trading on the stock market and the determined and resourceful women who succeeded nevertheless.
7. This Poem called “Earthrise” by Amanda Gorman – from 2018. Because we much protect the earth for future generations like hers.
[BONUS] This Guide to Determine Which GOP Conspiracy You Are…. Mine: Anderson Cooper can shapeshifter into a food stamp on a socialist dare!
1. This Photographer, Kirsty Mitchell– she is possibly my favorite photographer and I was lucky enough to get to see an exhibit for her book “Wonderland” in 2017. And incredibly they allowed photographs! I purchased the book (a completely worthwhile investment) but I love that I have several gorgeous digital shots. Here are a couple of my favorites (a few are close-ups of sections of photos; I thought I should limit how many full photos I posted – to see more be sure to visit Kirsty’s website!
3. This 3-Year-Old Who Dressed Up As All Her Role Models – when Scout Penelope‘s “Nonnie” was diagnosed with breast cancer her mom Ashley tried to think of a project that they could work on together that would keep both of them occupied. The result was a series of amazing photos, a few of which are below with many more at this link. Scout is three-years older now (have been looking through things I have filed away so I’m finding older articles and links); don’t be startled when you look at her Instagram.
4. These Formal Memos between the Produces of the Original Star Trek Discussing Vulcan Proper Names – this is very clever and hilarious! These people clearly are having fun and have a good working relationship.
Here’s the first letter:
FROM: Bob Justman
DATE: May 3, 1966
SUBJECT: STAR TREK PLANET VULCAN PROPER NAMES
I would like to suggest that all proper names for denizens of Mr. Spock’s “PLANET VULCAN” follow a set routine. To wit: all names begin with the letters “SP” and end with the letter “K.” All names to have a total of five letters in them—no more and no less.
Therefore: Mr. Spock aptly fits this pattern. Other names would be as follows:
Hope that the suggestions are of immense help to you. I remain,
Your humble and obedient servant,
Robert H. Justman
5. These Classic Movies Done in the Style of Persian Miniature Paintings – these are amazing drawings done by Turkish illustration Murat Palta. You can see several more at this link, though most seem to be from rather bloody films. And then there are more here.
Here are two of my favorites:
The Little Prince
6. This INCREDIBLE Colorized Collection of Short Historical Films – I’m a huge fan of Denis Shiryaev’s restoration work. I particularly love how he starts his videos explaining all the work he did to create the videos and the changes he made – fascinating! In this particular video he makes sure to clarify that his work is not completely historically accurate – he doesn’t know exactly what the original colors were, etc., so he needs to make educated guesses. Plus he sometimes will enhance things to make them look better, but again, sometimes it requires him to use his best guess. I think the final result is fantastic.
7. This Ad Seeking a Wife from 1865 – I must say, my favorite lines are the last three: “I want to buy bread-and-butter, hoop-skirts, and waterfalls for some person of the female persuasion during life. That what’s the matter with me. But I don’t know how to do it.”
I had to look this up but I think by “waterfalls” he means “waterfall bustles”.
I want to thank my friend Ann who was the person who shared a few of this week’s ‘Things I Love’ with me. Thanks Ann!
1. This Suffragettes’ Christmas Card – Savvy Twitter users who could read music noticed that the music at the bottom of the card was actually for ‘La Marseillaise,’ the French national anthem. One Twitterer pointed out the song was indeed used by the movement.
In fact it was called “The Women’s Marseillaise‘ and it was the official anthem of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU.) With words written by Florence Macaulay, the song was sung by suffragettes both in the United Kingdom and in the United States. I don’t think women today can truly grasp how much we owe to the Suffragettes of the early twentieth century.
2. This Netflix Series, ‘The Holiday Movies That Made Us’ – a holiday version of the popular ‘The Movies That Made Us,’ the series covers two films: ‘Elf‘ and “Nightmare Before Christmas.’ (Personally, I enjoyed the ‘Elf‘ one better, even though “Nightmare Before Christmas‘ is one of my Mom’s favorite movies of all-time.)
3. This Excerpt from a Letter from Virginia Woolf to Violet Dickinson. – This excerpt of the letter is from the site ‘Letters of Note (LoN).’ I’m rather obsessed with ‘LoN.’ ‘LoN’ started as a book (I have a personalized copy) and eventually turned into this incredible online museum, all the brainchild of one person named Shaun Usher. Now there are multiple volumes with more on the way. I suggest signing up for the newsletter so you get a handful of letters delivered straight to your inbox daily.
So you know, Violet Dickinson was an old family friend of Virginia Woolf. Here is some information about her from Ellen Moers NYT review of “The Letters of Virginia Woolf, Volume I: 1888-1912“:
“Violet Dickinson gave far more than affection. She nursed Virginia at her Welwyn home through her suicidal depression in the summer of 1904, and then introduced her to the women’s editor of The Guardian and to Nellie Cecil. The Guardian assigned Virginia books to review and published her first writing; with Nellie Cecil (a professional critic, as will as daughter and wife of peers – her nephew is Lord David Cecil) she collaborated on a literary column for The Cornhill. From then until her marriage, Virginia Woolf was a hard-working literary journalist; she adored it.”
It is Christmas evening, and we are all soporific from the effects of a Christmas tea eaten on top of a Christmas turkey. Sophie never lets us off on Christmas day at all, and when this letter is finished, I shall have to go down and attack the turkeys legs which were left intact. Thoby had such a large helping that another plate had to receive the overflow, and he ate impartially from both. They spent the afternoon in making Rum Punch, which is made half of rum half of brandy, with sugar and lemon and hot water thrown in: the house smells like a public house in consequence, and we shall have a very merry evening. Isn’t this better than your high and dry aristocrats? We all talk at once, and make such brilliant jokes as never were seen.
Virginia Woolf | Letter to Violet Dickinson, Christmas Day 1904
4. ThisScatelogical Celebration in Catalonia – I actually wish this was a thing here. These are called “caganers” and they are meant to bring luck. They need to be placed in a Nativity and the idea is that the defecating (caganer supposedly loosely translates to “the defecator”) figure is fertilizing the soil and therefore will bring good crops – basically it’s a symbol of fertility and good fortune. This explains why there are more figures of beloved people/things taking a poop than of ones that are disliked.
5. This Map Showing the Favorite Christmas Treat for Each State – if you’d like to see a larger version you can click on this link. Not sure if you agree with the map. I grew up in Iowa and we never had oreo balls. But we were right on the border of Wisconsin & Illinois so we weren’t really typical Iowa. I’ve lived in Wisconsin for the majority of my life (about 37 years,) and I don’t particularly recall seeing a lot of Andes Peppermints around during the holidays.
6. This Special Reading by Neil Gaiman of ‘A Christmas Carol’ – Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors and it’s not just because he’s an amazing writer but it’s also because he’s a HUGE advocate for public libraries. There are many Gaiman quotes to choose from about public libraries but his most “famous” in the library world is this one:
“Google can bring you back 100,000 answers. A librarian can bring you back the right one.” ~ Neil Gaiman
7. This Collection of Rankin/Bass Christmas Specials that includes the “Vintage” Commercials –
Another vintage show with original commercials…
[Bonus] 8. These Vintage Ceramic Christmas Trees – one of my favorite things about Christmas is decorating and the reason I love it so much is because it takes me back to my childhood. Every year, right after Thanksgiving, when I start to open up the boxes that store all my Christmas decorations I find myself mostly thinking about my Mom. Which is the best part.
I inherited a lot of her Christmas decorations and as I look at them, every one of them makes me think of her and the Christmases we spent together. The memories have become hazy but the feelings haven’t.
We actually never had one of these trees when I was a kid, not that I remember (as I said, hazy) but there is still something very familiar about this tree and I now own one. They are absolutely delightful. There’s a wonderful history of the trees written up here. And here is an article from Taste of Home with advice on how to find a ceramic tree if you are interested in having one for yourself.
Christmas collectibles have great sentimental value. Nowadays there isn’t a lot that gets passed down from generation to generation anymore. Mothers don’t give/leave their children china or silver or antiques. But that treasured tree topper or those favorite Christmas ornaments, well, that is something that any kid of any generation will appreciate.
[Bonus] 9. This Christmas Playlist – and don’t forget to check out the Menopausal Broad Playlist: Christmas Edition. I’ve added some new tunes and I’m sure that I’ll be adding even more music as the week goes on…
Word of the Day
Quote of the Day
(We’ve been at the threshold of hell most of this year but we’re close to being saved!)
1. This Tea Party – Truly amazing. I belong to the Facebook group called ‘The Gilded Age Society.’ The Edwardian Era has always been my favorite time period, even before ‘Downton Abbey’ was a thing. Recently a young person name Paul Ryan T. Co, who is also a member of the group, posted these photos. He recreated a most magnificent Edwardian Era tea. I wrote to him immediately and asked if I could share the photos and he said yes so here they are.
Here are some of the details included in Paul’s description:
The menu includes fresh fruits, dried fruit with nuts, chicken truffle quiche, scones with clotted cream and jam, and the pièce de résistance is a Lady Baltimore cake, which is a white cake filled with nuts and figs and then frosted with a fluffy marshmallow meringue icing. THAT sounds divine!
Paul used the original 1906 recipe which was copied in several newspapers, including Harrisburg, Pennsylvania’s Daily Gazette and Bulletin, The Columbus Journal, and The Washington Times.
There is a fascinating history of the cake on this site.
I myself might try a more modern recipe and am thinking of giving Martha’s version a try.
Additionally, the service is traditional to the period. It’s made up of an American sterling tea set by Gorham from the 1880s, a set of monogrammed sterling cutlery by Watson from 1902, a silver cake server by Whiting (from their King Edward pattern introduced in 1900 to commemorate Edward’s accession to the throne, which makes it rare), a Ridgeway dessert service, a Minton cake pedestal, a double-handled, molded Prussian cake plate, and a trio of Coalport tea cups (all produced from the late 1800s to early 1900s.) This guy needs to be hired by a production company, STAT! He’s a true artist.
Tell me you wouldn’t pay beaucoup bucks to attend a tea at this place!
2. This Governmental Body – The Irish Parliament discussed the “Santa Claus Issue” and formally announced that Santa is exempt from their national quarantine, that he will indeed still be visiting homes in Ireland, but social distancing should still be practiced and people should remain 2 meters away from him. Gotta LOVE THIS!
3. This Xfinity Short Film – It’s not really an advertisement. I saw a brief clip of this on television and it was so intriguing I wanted to watch the entire thing. Steve Carrell is a fine Santa Claus!
4. This Video on Mourning a Relationship You Never Had – I love Anna Akana so much and I really wish that she could time travel back to the early 80s and tell me exactly what she says in the video. Course I’m not sure if I would have been smart enough back then to listen to her.
5. This IG of Chris Evans Playing the Piano! – just when you think he can’t get any more adorable/perfect/wonderful….
and then watch Jimmy Fallon’s response to Chris’s piano playing viral video, it’s HILARIOUS.
6. These Recipes and Tips for Roasting Chestnuts – unless you live in a pretty large city (with lots of pedestrian traffic) you probably don’t run across many places selling roasted chestnuts during the Christmas season (despite what Hallmark movies makes Christmas look like). Myself, I’d actually never had them until well into my 50s.
I don’t have a gas stove so I have two options – one is two use my gas grill and the other is to roast them in the oven. I prefer them on the grill because they’re on an open flame but when it’s too cold (doesn’t happen much anymore with climate change) or when I’m visiting family and it’s too much of a hassle, the oven method works just fine. Especially when I use them in recipes, with, oh, for example, Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts and Bacon.
In fact, last Christmas I tried to make the above recipe at my sister-in-law/brother’s house. In the notes it says, “If you prefer to roast fresh chestnuts instead of using vacuum-packed ones, cut a slit in the shell of each chestnut with a serrated knife.” I’m going to tell you something – a freaking serrated knife will not slit the shell of a chestnut. I mean, it will, but it’s like trying to saw wood with a butter knife.
Recently I ran across this nifty gadget and now I know that next year I will be completely prepared! It will score the chestnut so that it doesn’t explode while roasting (after all, that’s the primary reason why you’re cutting it.) Once you roast it, it should be easy to peel.
Bring it on Christmas 2021! I’m ready for you…
7. This Search Result When You Google Alex Trebek – SO sweet!
Before I get to the Word and Quote of the Week I strongly recommend that you watch these two movies before the end of the month. They are very different films but there’s one major similarity – you will figure it out quickly.
What I couldn’t help but think while watching both of them is how much better the world would be if people weren’t so judgmental and how so much bad behavior – masculine toxicity, repressed emotions, abusive tendencies, the list is endless – are passed on from generation to generation.
The first movie is Uncle Frank – amazing cast.
The second is The Happiest Season and it’s on Hulu (Dan Levy not surprisingly steals every scene he’s in.)
These are in no particular order of preference. How many have you seen?
Get Santa (Netflix) – charming Christmas movie with a Paddington-esque quality (they were both released in 2014) where things go quite afoul for Santa. But with a little help from his friends he manages to make his deliveries on time. With Jim Broadbent as Santa Claus.
A Child’s Christmas in Wales (YouTube) – Starring Denholm Elliott and Mathonwy Reeves. This link is to the full film.
Godmothered (Disney+) – Starring Jillian Bell, Isla Fisher, and Jane Curtain.
The Holiday Movies That Made Us (Netflix)
Last Holiday (Peacock TV Premium) – Starring Queen Latifah, LL Cool J, Timothy Hutton, Alicia Witt, Giancarlo Esposito, Gerard Depardieu, and Susan Kellermann.
Elf: Buddy’s Musical Christmas (HBO Max) – Starring (the voices of) Jim Parsons, Mark Hamill, Gilbert Gottfried, Jay Leno, Fred Armisen, and Ed Asner reprising his role as Santa.
Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (Disney+ and Netflix) – Starring Mackenzie Foy as Clara with Matthew Macfadyen, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, Omid Djalili, Richard E. Grant, Keira Knightley, and Misty Copeland.
LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special (Disney+) – Billy Dee does Lando’s voice!
It’s a Wonderful Life (Prime Video) – Starring Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed, and Lionel Barrymore.
The Happiest Season (Hulu, begins streaming on November 24th) – Starring Dan Levy, Alison Brie, Kristen Stewart, Mackenzie Davis, Aubrey Plaza, Mary Steenburgen, Victor Garber, and Ana Gasteyer.
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (Netflix) – Starring Phylicia Rashad, Forest Whitaker, Madalen Mills, Anika Noni Rose, Keegan-Michael Key, Hugh Bonneville, and Ricky Martin. (Lisa Davina Phillip, who plays Ms. Johnson, is hilarious!)
Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square (Netflix) – Starring Dolly Parton, Christine Baranski, and Treat Williams.
Noelle (Disney+) – Starring Anna Kendrick, Shirley MacLaine, Bill Hader, and Kingsley Ben-Adir.
Holidate (Netflix) – Starring Emma Roberts, Luke Bracey, Kristin Chenoweth, and Frances Fisher.
Miracle on 34th Street (Disney+) – Starring Maureen O’Hara, John Payne, Edmund Gwenn and Natalie Wood.
The Princess Switch (Netflix) – Starring a double dose of Vanessa Hudgens, Sam Palladio, and Nick Sagar. There is a sequel (also on Netflix) that began streaming on November 19th called The Princess Switch 2: Switched Again.
Last Christmas (HBO Max) – Starring Emilia Clarke, Henry Golding, Emma Thompson, and Michelle Yeoh.
The Man Who Invented Christmas (Hulu) – starring Dan Stevens.
The Holiday Calendar (Netflix) – Starring Kat Graham, Quincy Brown, Ethan Peck, and Ron Cephas Jones.
The Santa Clause (Disney+) – Starring Tim Allen, David Krumholtz, Judge Reinhold, Wendy Crewson, and Eric Lloyd. (There are two sequels, also on Disney+, with the same original cast: Santa Clause 2 adds Elizabeth Mitchell as the future Mrs. Claus and Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause adds Martin Short as Jack Frost and Alan Arkin and Ann-Margaret as the new Mrs. Claus’s parents who don’t have a clue who their son-in-law is.)
The Bishop’s Wife (Prime Video) – Starring Cary Grant, Loretta Young, David Niven, and Monty Woolley. (There was a remake with Denzel Washington and Whitney Houston called ‘The Preacher’s Wife’ and it was just okay. I mean, I’m a HUGE Cary Grant fan so it’d be difficult for anyone to top him in my book.)
A Bad Mom’s Christmas (Netflix) – Starring Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn, Christine Baranski, Susan Sarandon, and Cheryl Hines. (You can watch this without having seen the original ‘Bad Moms’ but it’s better if you have. Unfortunately the original isn’t streaming for free.)
Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas (Disney+) – Starring Chris Sarandon (Jack Skellington’s speaking voice) and Catherine O’Hara (Sally and Shock’s voice)
White Christmas (Netflix) – Starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen.
A Christmas Movie Christmas (Prime Video and Hulu) – Starring Lana McKissack, Kimberly Daugherty, and Brant Daugherty (Kimberly’s real-life husband.) (FYI, little Cleary Herzlinger, who plays London, steals every scene she’s in.)
Disney’s A Christmas Carol (Disney+) – Starring (the voices of) Jim Carrey (who not only does Scrooge at all ages but all three Ghosts as well), Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Bob Hoskins, Lesley Manville, and Molly Quinn.
Santa Claus: The Movie (Peacock) – Starring David Huddleston, Burgess Meredith, Judy Cornwell, Dudley Moore (if someone else had been cast in Moore’s role this movie would have been so much better) and John Lithgow.
Holiday in the Wild (Netflix) – Starring Kristin Davis and Rob Lowe (I didn’t think I’d like this as much as I did but between the African scenery and the elephants, well, the baby elephants totally put it over the top)
Klaus (Netflix) – Starring (the voices of) Jason Schwartzman, J.K. Simmons, Rashida Jones, Will Sasso, Norm MacDonald, and Joan Cusack.
The Knight Before Christmas (Netflix) – Starring Vanessa Hudgens and Josh Whitehouse.
Home Alone (Disney+) – Starring Macaulay Culkin, Catherine O’Hara, John Heard, Daniel Stern, Joe Pesci, and of course our beloved John Candy. (There is also two sequels (both available on Disney+) but only Home Alone 2: Lost in New York is worth it. Tim Curry, Dana Ivey and Rob Schneider are fantastic in HA2 as staff at the Plaza Hotel. Sadly, the Orange Monster owned the real Plaza Hotel at the time the film was made and makes a brief cameo, so be forewarned.)
Dash & Lily (Netflix) – Starring Austin Abrams and Midori Francis note: this is an eight-episode series based on the novel by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan but it definitely is Christmas-centric. And if you love bookstores, particularly the Strand in NYC, you’re gonna wanna watch this.
And of course….
Die Hard (HBO Max) – Starring Bruce Willis, Bonnie Bedelia, Reginald VelJohnson, and Alan Rickman.
Course a lot of the best Christmas movies aren’t available on a streaming service for free:
Elf– Ed Asner is definitely one of the best Santas ever and Bob Newhart as an elf is pure genius. (Also, how many of you knew that Ralphie from ‘A Christmas Story’ was in this movie???? That’s him standing next to Buddy in the photo below. He played Ming Ming.)
Happy Christmas – not free anywhere but it only costs $4.99 to buy from AppleTV or Prime, which is a dollar more than it costs to rent. I still don’t understand why anyone would rent a movie that only costs a buck more to buy. I love a realistic, dysfunctional, midwestern Christmas, don’t you? (Plus, Melanie Lynskey, damn I love her.)
The Holiday – Oh to live in Rosehill Cottage. Sigh. (For photos of the interior, click here.)
Love, Actually – I mean really though, this movie is worth an investment. Surely you watch it every year?
Polar Express– I really liked this movie but similar to the Disney Christmas Carol it takes some adjusting to get used to seeing the animations where the voices are completely familiar (Tom Hanks) but the face looks a little off. You’ll see what I mean.
Christmas in Connecticut – I adore Barbara Stanwyck. And if you like the combination of Frank Capra and Barbara Stanwyck you should try Meet John Doe. Technically it’s not a Christmas movie but it has a climatic ending on Christmas Eve so I always think of it as a holiday film. It’s one of my favorites.
Miracle on 34th Street – this is the 1994 version. I don’t think it’s fair to try to compare a black & white film to a color remake. The tone and mood and atmosphere of a b&w film is going to always be different, simply because of the lack of color – and that’s not a bad thing. It’s just, it’s like trying to compare oranges and limes, they are both citrus but they are not completely interchangeable. I hope that this makes sense (I’m doing my rambling thing now). The bottom line is, I love both versions.
Joyeux Noel– you may not have heard of this French film but most likely you have heard the story of the truce that took place for one night on Christmas eve during World War I. This is the story of that event. Nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2006.
The Ref – if you can handle watching a movie with Kevin Spacey (sadly so many things are ruined for me now, but he does get terrorized for a while so that helps,) Dennis Leary is freaking brilliant. So are Judy Davis and Christine Baranski. (And if you happen to click on the photo below it’ll link you to a great review but ignore where it says it’s currently streaming on Netflix. The review is from 2016 and the movie has been pulled since then.)
1. This Video of Angela Lansbury & Carol Channing – it is a performance recorded back in 2001, when Lansbury was 76 years old and Channing was 80, at a benefit for the Actors Fund of America. The event was called ‘Tap Your Troubles Away with Jerry Herman.’ Jerry Herman was the wizard behind the musicals Mame, La Cage aux Folles and Hello, Dolly. I ADORE these two old girls!!!
2. This Interview with Ruby Bridges by Trevor Noah – Trevor Noah, in my opinion, is the best interviewer on television (sorry Stephen Colbert, you’re a close second though! Plus you’re the most talented. And Seth Meyers, you’re the funniest so don’t worry, you’re still number one in my heart. And, of course, we mustn’t forget John Oliver, who is in a class by himself.)
3. This Sea Shanty sung by the Fisherman’s Friends – who doesn’t love a good sea shanty?
More importantly, who doesn’t love a good movie about a group of fisherman who become famous singing sea shanties? Cuz the guys above, the Fisherman’s Friends, there is a movie about them and it’s on Netflix now. Here’s the trailer. You HAVE to see it. It’s marvelous. It makes me long to go back to Cornwall (one of my favorites places in the world.) My great-grandparents were Cornish (as were all their relatives before them) so I think my attachment to Cornwall is due to that – I feel at home when I’m there.
4. This Tutorial on How to Position Pillows for Better Sleep – it’s meant for elderly people, to help reduce joint pain, but frankly as a menopausal broad, I have plenty of that already. And I’m sure that people of all ages should learn how to sleep properly, with better alignment. I bought a buckwheat pillow after watching this and it’s AWESOME.
I also purchased a wedge pillow and for the past two days I slept EIGHT HOURS straight. I have breathing issues but I’ve had two sleep studies done and I don’t have sleep apnea. Instead it turns out I have a deviated septum and other nose problems that make me end up waking up completely congested. But sleeping slightly elevated it is really helping with my breathing. It turns out that elevated sleeping is better for people with all sorts of sleep issues.
5. This Friendship between Marilyn Monroe and Ella Fitzgerald – I came across this story via Drunk History (see video below) and it is wonderful. Those of us who know about Marilyn’s life (which is pretty much everyone over forty I suspect) know that it wasn’t easy. During a time when women like Marilyn were sexualized and victimized and there was little to no recourse, Monroe tried to find ways to protect herself. Trying to change her image into an actress with the trifecta of being able to act, dance, and sing (as well as being taken more seriously as an actress) was one method of protection.
Supposedly her singing instructor introduced her to the music of Ella Fitzgerald. Marilyn was so taken with Ella’s voice that she called up the manager at the famous Mocambo Nightclub in Hollywood and told him that if he had Ella perform that she would sit in the front row every night. Supposedly Fitzgerald had been trying to get a gig there for some time but was turned down. There have been memes circulating about the incident saying the Mocambo wouldn’t let Fitzgerald sing because she was black and Monroe helped her get a gig and the two women became great admirers of one another, or they were so alike, or they celebrated Monroe’s and Fitzgerald’s friendship. Sadly the fact checkers, who sometimes are way too literal (which drives me nuts) have been saying – okay, here’s the TRUE STORY or the “truth” behind this meme.
They say – it isn’t accurate to say that Ella Fitzgerald wasn’t allowed to sing at the Mocambo because she was black. They’ll point out that black performers like Eartha Kitt, Dorothy Dandridge, Herb Jeffries and Joyce Bryant. Big whoop. Ella sang at the Mocambo in 1955, it had been open since 1941.
But if that really isn’t the reason, or if it is only partly the reason, the real reason is actually worse and I’m not sure, are these fact-checkers and truth seekers implying it’s less problematic? Because the real reason is that Ella was “heavyset” that she wasn’t “sexy enough” that she was fat. It still had to do with the way she looked, whichever reason is true.
For those of you who enjoy Drunk History (one of the best ways to learn history) ….
6. This Exercise Bicycle from the Hendrick’s Gin people – a Hendrick’s High Wheel! It’s a REAL exercise bike, or as Bicycling magazine calls it, a “high-class, low-tech stationary bike.” Designed to look like a Victorian Penny-farthing, the bicycle is a Steampunk lover’s dream. Plus it has a holder that fits a bottle of Hendrick’s, so you can pedal for your cocktails! Would I be willing to fork over the $2500 for this? Maybe. But with there only being three available for sale, because I don’t have the space in my house, AND because I honestly question whether I would be able to climb up onto the seat, this lovely thing won’t be in my possession at any point in the future.
7. This View from the Cupola of the Space Station – can you even imagine??? And there are more photos here and here.
And here is a video:
Word of the Day
Kalsarikännit (pronounced cal-sar-y-cuhn-eet) – of course pre-pandemic kalsarikannit wasn’t such a regular thing.
1. This Colorized Video from 1893 of a Snowball Fight – done by Dmitriy Badin – I’d mute the video, the music is a bit annoying. It’s delightful to watch thought.
(I prefer the way Denis Shiryaev creates his videos. He goes the extra step of adding sounds that match whatever is taking place, for example, he adds trolley bells, or horses hooves clopping on the street, or people talking. His videos are amazing.)
2. This New Couple – I’ve loved Linda Purl for decades and I just found out she is dating Patrick Duffy! For those of you who don’t know, Patrick was married for 43 years (and they were a couple for 5 years before that) until his wife passed away in 2017. He had thought he would live the remainder of his life as a widower but his lifetime friendship with Purl turned into more and now they are dating! Very sweet.
3. This Genius, who has created a site called McBroken.com, where you can check to see which nearby McDonald’s have broken ice cream machines.
4. This Weather Map that Shows the Snowfall Forecast in Books
5. This History of the Word Hangover – How many of you have experienced a hangover in the past week? How many of you have experienced a hangover or hundred in the past four years? Did you ever wonder where the word hangover came from? Like so many of our intoxicant related words, it originated during the Victorian era. Which of course is completely ironic considering they were supposedly such prudes.
6. This Video Clip showing How Charlie Chaplin achieved a special effect in his film ‘Modern Times’ over 80 years ago.
7. This Little Free Library, located in McFarland, WI (Represent!) that is a Replica of the famous Shakespeare & Company bookshop in Paris…
Unfortunately, Shakespeare & Co., like so many businesses, is struggling….
1. This Children’s Librarian – who set up the best display ever the day after the Vice Presidential debate.
2. These Celebrities teaching us American Slang – I grew up in Iowa where we have no accent and no slang! Mwah ha ha ha ha ha. So not true. In fact, my Mom, whom I adored, used to say things like “be sure when you worsh the dishes in the zinc that you don’t break anything.” And my dad still says the words “Worshington” and “garuntee.” And then there was the pop/soda incident of 1984. I’d rather not talk about it.
A few years ago I few out to a conference in California and the majority of the attendees were native Californians. I’d never met any of them. The first evening I was sitting across a table from a woman who was sort of staring at me. Understand we hadn’t introduced ourselves at this point and weren’t wearing name tags. We’d only arrived and checked in and were having cocktails while we waited for our rooms. After people started getting called to go check-in she came over and sat next to me and said, “It’s so great to talk with a fellow Iowan again!” I asked how she knew I was from Iowa. I hadn’t even said all that much (at least for me) and after all, I hadn’t lived in Iowa for about thirty-five years. She said, “Your accent!” I have an accent? Go on, I don’t have an accent. She insisted I did.
Turns out she had lived in California for quite some time but was born and raised in Iowa as well. As you can imagine we became fast friends. I still can’t tell the difference between her “accent” (or my “accent”) and the accents of the other Californians attending the conference. Apparently I am no Henry Higgins.
ANYHOO, this video is fun to watch. Here are all the people that show up in it and exactly where they were born and/or raised.
Jennifer Garner was born in Houston, Texas but raised in Charleston, West Virginia
Olivia Munn was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Keegan-Michael Key was born in Southfield, Michigan and raised in Detroit
Matthew McConaughey was born in Uvalde, Texas
Adam Devine is actually a fellow Iowan, born in Waterloo, Iowa but grew up in Omaha, Nebraska
E-40 is from Vallejo, California
Michael Sheen is, of course, not from America but is from the beautiful Newport, Wales
Jon Hamm is from St. Louis, Missouri!!! (A branch of my family tree hails from there.)
Chloe Grace Moretz was born in Atlanta, Georgia.
Ike Barinholtz is from Chicago, Illinois
Tiffany Haddish is from Los Angeles, California
Jason Bateman is NOT from the Ozarks but was born in Rye, New York.
Laura Linney was born in New York City (did you know her father was a prominent playwright named Romulus Linney?)
Julia Garner was also born in New York City, in the Bronx.
Jennifer Lawrence was born in Indian Hills, Kentucky near Louisville
Joel Edgerton was born in Blacktown, New South Wales, Australia (and his reaction to Kentucky slang is wonderful.)
Mark Wahlberg was born in Dorchester, Boston, Massachusetts
Adam Sandler (interesting detail about bodegas) is a Brooklyn, New York boy (not a surprise)
Idina Menzel was born in Manhattan, grew up in New Jersey until she was three, then moved to Syosset, New York on Long Island.
3. This Book, Emeralds of Oz by Peter Guzzardi – honestly, there is a lot we can learn from the Wizard of Oz books (plural). Also, have you ever read Wicked (and the sequels) by Gregory Macguire. They really are genius. The first one is best, they get less so as you go along but the vocabulary is almost Tolkien-level of brillance.
4. This Cartoonist for The Guardian, Tom Gauld – I’ve been a fan for ages. His cartoons generally have a very literary slant. I have a couple of his books and am asking Santa for another one for Christmas!
5. This Reenactment of the iconic four-way phone scene from Mean Girls by four young women with disabilities. The intent is to show that people don’t have to be defined by their disability. It’s wonderful!
6. This Famous (infamous) Merrie Melodies scene, Leopold… The Leopold that they keep whispering about is a real-life conductor, Leopold Stokowski.
I also loved it when Merrie Melodies went completely into the adult arena, making cartoons for grown-ups. This cartoon has all sorts of famous people from the era: Peter Lorre, Jimmy Stewart, Cary Grant, Greta Garbo (Garbo wore size 8AA shoes but between her own self criticism and Hollywood standards the rumor few around that her feet were too big), Ann Sheridan, Humphrey Bogart, Bing Crosby, Clark Gable and many more. How many can you name? Oh, and LEOPOLD again!
7. This Young Girl – about five years ago (damn, time flies) my library system staff went to one of the local county fairs to promote libraries. They did this a lot, library advocacy is part of their thing. In addition to handing out materials about what our system libraries provided and they wanted to do something interactive so they put together this simple little activity using pool noodles and artistic letters laminated onto cards so that they would stand up. People could create any message they wanted and have their photos taken and my system put the photos up on social media. There were TONS of them but this one really caught my attention for two reasons – first, because of the word that she choose and second, because of the way she’s holding up the word, there’s just something so powerful about the way she’s standing. I just love everything about it.
1. The Technicolor Fashion Show Scene from the original version of the movie ‘The Women’ (1939) – I suspect more people are familiar with the 2008 film version of ‘The Women’ starring Meg Ryan, Annette Bening, Eva Mendes, Debra Messing, and Jada Pinkett-Smith. The casts of both films are entirely women, you never once see a man, though there are constant references to them or a man will call on the phone.
The video below isn’t the entire scene unfortunately, it’s just the beginning – the full fashion show lasts about six minutes and includes the styles of designer Adrian. The film is in black & white but briefly switches to technicolor for this one scene. Apparently they filmed the fashion show in both black and white and technicolor. It was only shown on television and on DVDs in black & white but Turner Classic Movies restored the technicolor fashion show and how marvelous that they did!
2. Curbside Larry (Thanks KK!) Most places have someone like this. A person who does such obnoxious commercials that they become endearing. In Milwaukee we had a pitchman named “Crazy TV Lenny” who now owns an e-bike business called “Crazy Lenny’s.” I think it’s BRILLIANT how they used it to promote library services!
3. This Hallmark Movie – ‘Wedding Every Weekend,’ the latest Hallmark movie, has finally included an LGBTQ couple. YIPPEE!!! And it was NOT done subtlety either. This is now my favorite Hallmark movie (well, non-holiday Hallmark movie, I still really LOVE Christmas Getaway.)
4. Thomas Fitzpatrick: The greatest “Hold my beer and watch this” ever – Picture it, Sicily, 1956… wait, that’s wrong, not Sicily, it was New York City. Mr. Thomas Fitzpatrick makes a bet that he could land a plane outside the bar that he was drinking in, a couple hours later he does exactly that, in a stolen plane no less. Years later when someone refuses to believe him he even does it again! (Found on MessyNessyChic)
5. Rebecca – it won’t premiere on Netflix until October 21st but I am so excited about this upcoming movie I can barely see straight. The novel Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier has been one of my favorite books since high school. I also love the old black & white movie with Joan Fontaine and Lawrence Olivier (1940.) It was my first introduction to the actor George Sanders. Most people only know his voice – he was Shere Khan the Tiger in the 1967 Jungle Book. His voice is beyond sexy, he really does sort of growl. His role in Jungle Book was just too perfect.
Getting on to the new Rebecca – good lord, Armie Hammer is playing Maxim de Winter. SWOON! And Lily James plays the unnamed woman who narrates and becomes the second Mrs. de Winter. Kristin Scott Thomas is Mrs. Danvers, Keeley Hawes (The Bodyguard and Durrells in Corfu) is Beatrice Lacy and Sam Riley (Maleficent and Radioactive) is Jack Favell. It’s all my favorite people in one film!!! Pinch me!
6. Suffragettes – tomorrow (August 18th) will mark the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment that gave women the right to vote. That’s right, it was only 100 years ago that women were given the right to vote in our country. New Zealand was actually the first country in the world to give women the right to vote. They did that in 1893, although there were actually some women on the Isle of Man (geographically part of the British Isles but not part of the UK) who were able to vote from 1881. New Zealand women were allowed to vote though they could not run for office.
There are two important dates to celebrate in 2020 – June 4th was the 100th anniversary of the passing of the 19th Amendment and August 18th is the 100th anniversary of its ratification and being added to the Constitution.
Want a fun activity for you and/or any kids you may know? Here’s Flat Susan B. (a twist on Flat Stanley), color her in and share her with friends, or use her as a bookmark, or take her along wherever you go and have her show up in photos that you post on Instagram! Flat Susan B is AWESOME! (And remember, coloring is therapeutic.) If you click on the image below you’ll go to the printable version.)
And remember, even though women won the right to vote in 1920, there is still a lot of problems with inequality in this country, which became very obvious with this summer’s BLM protests.
Sadly, the American’s Suffragette’s appear to won their battle at the expense of their black sisters. And the Equal Rights Amendment, though approved by both the House and the Senate in the early seventies never was able to get ratified by enough state legislatures before the deadline SEVEN years later. The deadline was extended for four years but still, the required of number of states was not met so Congress considers it dead. Several groups have tried to get Congress to remove the deadline but nothing has happened. Can you believe though that we, as a country, couldn’t get enough states to ratify the ERA in the first place???? Let’s see what happens in November, shall we?
P.S. if you haven’t seen the film Suffragettes yet, now’s the time!
7. The National Park Service’s ‘Recreate Responsibly’ Campaign Posters – the NPS began the campaign in April and it is genius. Humor really is the best way to get people’s attention, get things to go viral, and to get people to actually read things! The most recent poster, ‘Wildlife Petting Chart,’ is obviously in response to the recent bison incident (hint, don’t approach a baby bison when its mama is looking on.)