Chapter 107: COVID Chronicles

July 13, 2020

By Karen

Day 124

Max, My Guinea Pig & Trump v. John Adams

He keeps topping himself, but in Trump’s most ridiculous assertion to date, he predicts that all media (social, print and TV) will wither and die under Joe Biden because Biden would get “low ratings.”

After three+ years of whining and screaming about wanting “the enemy of the people,” The New York Times, The Washington Post and CNN, out of business, Trump in his dementia has the nerve to claim credit for their markets. Like we all want All-Trump-24/7. The narcissism and madness have reached another galaxy.

Trump played golf this past weekend and had a big white van parked near the course to block photographers’ view. But someone managed to capture this priceless little clip of Lard-Ass’s steadily advancing meltdown. Watch his left leg as he walks away (hope this works, I just figured out how to embed tweets)…

There’s NO WAY to rationalize that leg splay as anything but involuntary lack of muscle control (or a twisted diaper). Now, if only COVID would catch up with him. Even #MoscowMitch McConnell is getting cold feet about breathing COVID fumes in Jacksonville during the GOP convention, with Florida smashing through all records for new daily COVID cases, surpassing 15,000 on July 12.

NOW, TO THE CAT BEAT: Yesterday I washed the purple blankie that has been Max and Roc’s battleground at the end of the couch. To figure out what Max is really fixated on — the couch or the blankie — I switched it with the pink blankie from the rocker. Max has never had a problem with it. In fact, it was his favorite spot last Christmas…

My hypothesis: Max would either prove that what covers the couch is irrelevant and it’s a turf war, or he’d go to the rocker because his real love is the purple blankie.

So, I invited Max to sit beside me on the couch. When he noticed that his end looked different, he not only refused to touch the pink blanket, but seemed a bit agitated. After I swapped things back, Max went right over to his spot and plopped down.

Bottom line: It’s the couch AND the purple blankie.

ANOTHER SCIENTIFIC BREAKTHROUGH: I’ve discovered how not to have Trump be my last thought at night (leading to nightmares), or my first shriek of despair in the morning.

While I was watching the musical 1776 last week, I had an urge to learn everything about John Adams. We were born roughly 42 miles apart in Massachusetts, so he’s my people. I ordered a used but pristine copy of David McCullough’s mammoth Pulitzer Prize-winning biography, John Adams, for $7, including shipping.

Last night I started reading it before bed, and I’m already hooked. Adams was only about 5’7” or 8” and many found him mouthy and obnoxious. He was considered a conservative, but had many liberal positions like anti-slavery. As a person, he was virtually Trump’s opposite. For example, only one wife, Abigail, and their voluminous correspondence is hard evidence that they had a strong, loving 54-year marriage.

Anyway, I went to sleep trying to picture the Adams farm in Braintree, and woke up still thinking about Adams.

Just as in 2001, after I heard George W. Bush refer to the 9/11 terrorists “the folks who did this” and immediately drove to Charlottesville to visit Monticello and be near  Thomas Jefferson, I think Adams will take the edge off Trump through the election.

Well, after I hit “Pause” tomorrow to read Mary Trump’s damning book about Uncle Donald, Too Much and Never Enough.

 


Chapter 105: COVID Chronicles

July 11, 2020

By Karen

Day 122

Bourdain & Jane (Eyre)

Lark Mason is auctioning through igavelauctions.com an ink drawing Anthony Bourdain did when he was about 20 years old. It’s called “Stay Calm”…

Bidding is underway if you’re interested, and runs until July 21. When I checked this morning, it was at $1,000.

What’s interesting is that Tony kept this drawing for four decades. Although he never talked about it, except to say that as a kid he wanted to illustrate comic books, he must have been proud of his art. He could capture the essence of things. Like his signature chef’s knife, which he drew for me, along with a self-portrait, in a few quick Sharpie strokes…

On the literary front, I read Jane Eyre in 10th grade English and loved it so much, I’ve tried to see every screen adaptation, starting with the 1943 Hollywood movie starring Joan Fontaine and Orson Welles. Welles as Rochester was so-so, but you can see from the movie poster how totally not-Jane Joan Fontaine was…

My all-time favorite Jane Eyre was a four-hour 1983 miniseries starring Zelah Clarke and Timothy Dalton, who has just the right roughly handsome ugliness. As did George C. Scott, who starred in the 1971 Jane Eyre with Susannah York, who was too old…

It’s been done many times. But last night I took in the 2011 Jane Eyre. Mia Wasikowska, who was a lousy Madame Bovary, was a perfect Jane. (But I still give “definitive” credit to Zelah Clarke).

Judi Dench had the small role of Mrs. Fairfax, the housekeeper. Mr. Rochester was Michael Fassbender.

The trailer looks like a horror movie. Even with a maniac in the attic, Thornfield is 24/7 too dark and spooky. There’s no Mrs. Poole to pique Jane’s suspicions. In fact, the question of WHAT’S in the attic is almost tangential in this one.

It begins in the middle, with Jane arriving half-dead (why?) on the doorstep of St. John Rivers. The central story is one big flashback and it takes most of the movie to loop back to why Jane ends up with Rivers.

It might be baffling to anyone who hasn’t read the book.

Poor Michael Fassbender, young and smooth, has to ask Jane this question from the book, which seems silly coming from him, “Do you think me handsome?” She’s forced to answer with a straight face, “No.”

Their chemistry is meh. For example, the night Jane saves Rochester from becoming Bertha BBQ in bed, he almost kisses her (prematurely at that stage of their acquaintance). But when Jane pulls back and leaves, Rochester doesn’t even look disappointed.

I got downright irate at my favorite scene, the proposal. Rochester and Jane are strolling through the sunny garden. He’s behind her when he says the line about feeling a cord connecting them, which would make it a leash. Their whole exchange is highly abridged, though it should be pivotal.

Here’s that same scene with Dalton and Clarke. Set and played perfectly, with the dialogue virtually book-verbatim…

I shouldn’t have been surprised when this movie botches the ending. Jane turns down St. John’s proposal to marry and be missionaries when she hears Rochester’s voice calling her on the wind and dashes back to Thornfield.

She finds Rochester has been burned out of Thornfield, but then there’s no mention that he’s blind and lost a hand and thinks Jane wants to be a nurse, not a wife, nor that they work out that misunderstanding so well, they eventually have a son.

It’s just, “They’re back together. Assume happily ever after. The end.”

If you’re into Jane Eyre, this is one to skip.


Chapter 102: COVID Chronicles

July 8, 2020

By Karen

Day 119

Robert E. Lee Stands Alone & Catching Up With the Kitties

Yesterday the statue of General J.E.B. Stuart came down…

Photo James H. Wallace, Richmond Times-Dispatch

Now the only Confederate left standing on Monument Avenue is Robert E. Lee, and he’s probably feeling like it’s Appomattox all over again.

There’s still no word on where the statues are hidden or what’s going to be done with them.

Next up on the Virginia To-Do list should be banning the Confederate Flag, which promises to raise an even bigger stink than the statues. I’m surprised Trump isn’t flying one over the White House right now, just for spite.

Speaking of Trump, the publication date of his niece Mary’s book, Too Much and Never Enough, has been moved up to July 14. I’ll be downloading the e-book as soon as I get the green light. Fingers crossed that hearing every cable news talking head laughing at him and swapping anecdotes about what a fucked-up little demon-child Trump was will accelerate his meltdown.

Richmond has had several straight weeks of humid weather over 90o. Even with central air and fans, we feel it and I’m more often drenched in sweat than not. Roc finds it cooler to nap on my recycle paper than in his comfy bed…

Yesterday, new collars for Roc and Tony arrived. Yes, I still hope Tony will one day accept wearing a collar so he doesn’t look like a stray.

As it turns out, that day has not yet arrived. As soon as Tony was in his new collar, he deflated. He kept scratching at his neck and shuffling around with his head down. His usual joie de vivre was gone. He’s already a virtuoso when it comes to playing me. So, Max got the new collar instead and he seems very satisfied with it…

Tony checked out Roc’s handsome new look…

Tony is obsessed by shadows. This morning he thought he saw something on the wall and we had this brief exchange (listen carefully) about it, but he finally agreed it was nothing…

BONUS: Did you happen to catch Trump saying he’d wear a mask if he had to? He wore a black one once and thought it made him look “like the Lone Ranger.” Comedian Sarah Cooper shows us how effective that would be…

PS: In case you’re unfamiliar with The Lone Ranger, here’s what his mask looked like…

And yet Trumpers are still out there believing Trump’s just fine.


Chapter 98: COVID Chronicles

July 4, 2020

By Karen

Day 115

Independence Day’s a Dud & Amazon Solves 28-Year-Old Norwegian Puzzle

I didn’t go to my parents’ cookout. I don’t know if they still had one, or if I ruined it. My sister was invited, so my guess is they did get together for lunch. Probably a quick one — on holidays Sis and her boyfriend usually have other obligations — so they weren’t together for too long. That will be their justification that it was all fine and I’m a bitch.

Meanwhile, on American Independence Day, I’m all Norwegian, or norsk, as they say. I’ve stuck with Duolingo. Initially, I was whipping through lessons so fast that I temporarily achieved Duolingo’s highest status, Diamond League.

But I had covered too much and I stopped retaining most of it, so I went back to Lesson 1. That’s when I discovered each lesson has four levels with lots of repetition and drilling, which was exactly what I needed. I also found grammar explanations and vocabulary lists. So, now I’m building a better foundation. However, Duolingo still makes you question your comprehension with nonsense like…

Nei, gitaren min gråter ikke.
(No, my guitar is not weeping.)

And…

Den fulle fyren kastet en hamburger på meg!
(That drunk guy threw a hamburger at me!)

And…

Katten er tre bananer lang.
(The cat is three bananas long.)

Who measures cats in bananas?

Speaking of cats, to help me remember min norsk, we’ve named that bird Roc carries around Fuglen (loosely pronounced Foolin’). It means “the bird.”

Speaking of Fuglen, he may be plotting something. This morning I found this shady gathering (mouse, Fuglen, Rowdy Rat, and Tony’s balding blue sparkle ball, which had migrated from the bedroom) on the kitchen rug…

But back to norsk. When I took up Norwegian in 1992 while dating a Norwegian, I asked him to bring me a book from home by any American author so I might buy the English edition and have the translation while I practiced reading.

He brought me Garrison Keillor’s En Rolig Uke I Lake Wobegon (A Quiet Week in Lake Wobegon), originally published in 1987, with Norwegian translation in 1988.

Here’s where it gets weird. Remember, 1992 was pre-Amazon, or really pre-online shopping anywhere. I never found that book in any store, even by comparing the first page of text, whose gist I got, with every Keillor book I came across. Since the Norwegian edition was too advanced for me, it has sat on my shelf all these years.

The other day, I pulled it out and was gobsmacked to find that I had somehow missed clearly written at the top of the copyright page: Originalens tittel: Leaving Home.

Amazon had THAT book…

Keillor wrote a much shorter foreword for the norsk edition, and some of the stories have titles as stretched as the book’s itself, but it does look like a valid translation.

So my next project is to read a whole Norwegian book. Didn’t former presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg once say that’s why he learned Norwegian?

They say when you really absorb a language you stop translating it in your head. I hope that’s where I am by the time I get to Slutten (The End).


Chapter 97: COVID Chronicles

July 3, 2020

By Karen

Day 114

Apropos of Nothing & July 4th Family Drama

I don’t spend all my time watching TV. I also read. It took a few weeks to finish Woody Allen’s memoir, Apropos of Nothing, but I really loved it. It’s funny, self-deprecating, and the stories he shares about growing up, falling in love with movies, and how he became a director are delicious.

Woody heaps praise on virtually all the actors he’s ever worked with, even the ones who now claim to regret it and say they’ll NEVER work with him again, because that’s the cool #MeToo thing to do. He even extols Mia Farrow’s acting ability.

For the record, I’ve always believed Woody on the molestation accusations because his side of the story makes total sense. Also, he was exonerated in two thorough police investigations, and he was later cleared to adopt children after he married Soon-Yi.

Mia Farrow, on the other hand, I vividly remember as a flaky wack job since she became famous on the nighttime soap opera Peyton Place in the ‘60s, which I used to watch.

When Woody met Mia, she’d already begun hoarding orphans (eventually 10 total) like a turbo-charged Joan Crawford. Mia already had three boys by her second husband André Previn, yet insisted she and Woody have a child together unmarried. When she finally got pregnant, she told Woody the baby might be Frank Sinatra’s (Mia’s first husband, 30 years her senior, marriage lasted a year).

Look closely at Ronan Farrow and see if you don’t detect any young Sinatra. Ronan is apparently uninterested in learning the truth, which seems an odd attitude for a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist.

Anyway, Woody dating Soon-Yi sent Mia over the edge, and a lot of people got hurt in Mia’s quest for revenge.

Woody and Soon-Yi have now been married 24 years and have two adopted daughters in college.

Three of Mia’s adopted children died young, at least one by suicide.

On the home front, I learned this morning that my parents are going ahead with a July 4th cookout that I’ve been hoping wouldn’t happen. Humidity’s going to make it feel like 100o, with a storm in the forecast. That means everybody will be talking and eating in the house without masks.

When my mother called to tell me, I told her I’m not coming. To persuade me, she said she’d just met with clients and nobody was wearing masks.

Then she accused me of calling her ignorant, which I certainly did. Now she’s mad at me.

That’s how most of our phone calls devolve, so this is nothing unusual.

I’m 65 years old, I have high blood pressure and excess weight. I also don’t have a husband or boyfriend to help out around here if I’m too sick to function. The LAST thing I’m going to do, after holing up in the house for nearly four months, is throw it all away by exposing myself now for a fucking hot dog.

To end the week on a more cheery note, Max was very happy to have the sunny spot on the couch this morning…

He looks a bit grouchy when he first wakes up…

And Tony is practicing to be a portrait model, posing for these two great pics atop the blue kitty perch…


Chapter 79: COVID Chronicles

June 15, 2020

By Karen

Day 96

Meatloaf Results & Trump’s Dirt About to Become an Avalanche

It’s a gloomy, drizzly Monday. After owning the couch again last night, Max is spending today upstairs. The temperature is in the low 60os, so I opened windows to air the place out, which immediately had my office crawling with cats…

Last night I made the meatloaf from yesterday’s video recipe. I used the same amounts of everything despite being four ounces short on ground turkey. I was afraid that was a mistake when the raw loaf looked more like mushroom laced with meat than meatloaf. But I forged ahead. Here it is before I baked it (left) and after 50 minutes in a 400o oven, which was long enough to cook it thoroughly…

You can see how it expanded and cracked, but there wasn’t any grease. Two thin slices I cut off broke in half, but it didn’t totally crumble. And it was the moistest meatloaf I’ve ever eaten. Although it didn’t taste like mushrooms, it was a little bland. Prepping is a lot more work with cooking onions, garlic and mushrooms, but I’d definitely make it this way again. Can anyone suggest an herb or spice that might jazz up the flavor while keeping it meatloafy?

It was too loose to move, so I lifted it foil and all from the baking tray into my storage container…

The upside: no cleanup!

Maybe you’ve heard that Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton’s tell-all book about Trump comes out on June 23 despite Trump’s threats to sue. The Room Where it Happened is full of misdeeds Bolton should have told Congress during the impeachment when he could have helped get Trump removed.

Since COVID-19 blasted Bolton right out of the news, I hope his belated bombshells result in poor sales and be greeted with, “You call this news? Trump’s killed 117,000 people (and counting) since he pulled this stupid shit. Get a life.”

Bolton flogging dead horses for fame and profit feels like the MAGA crowd still going on and on about Hillary’s emails. It’s pointless and meaningless.

But ANOTHER book called Too Much and Never Enough comes out August 11. The author is Trump’s 55-year-old niece who has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, Mary Trump.

Mary is the daughter of Trump’s older brother Fred Jr., who died prematurely in 1981, when Mary was about 16. Fred Jr. was an alcoholic whom Trump claims turned him off booze forever (so instead Donny snorts drugs, whose dust is sometimes sprinkled on his lapel).

Mary is purportedly the family insider who helped The New York Times on their Pulitzer Prize-winning exposé of Trump’s finances.

Her main beef with Trump probably began in 2000. Details about that are in this Business Insider article. But it boils down to Trump and his siblings’ indulging their greed by cruelly trying to block health care for their late brother’s children, Mary and Fred III, when Fred III had an infant son with cerebral palsy. They were all fighting over Fred Sr.’s will, which omitted Fred Jr.’s portion of the inheritance.

If any book might bury Trump under more damning personal dirt than even he can lie his way out of before November, this knife in the guts from a member of his own family has a shot.

BONUS: Brilliant Sarah Cooper, using Trump’s own words, shows us “How to Lincoln”…


Chapter 74: COVID Chronicles

June 10, 2020

By Karen

Day 91

Protesters Try to Drown Columbus & Tony’s New Hangout

Protesters in Richmond branched out from the Confederacy last night, leaving Monument Avenue for Byrd Park, where they took down an 8-foot statue of Christopher Columbus. When they couldn’t burn it, they threw it into nearby Fountain Lake…

Photo James H. Wallace, Richmond Times-Dispatch

Italian-Americans gave the statue to the city in 1927, where it has apparently been standing on Powhatan ground. It became a target because indigenous peoples are joining African Americans in solidarity against white supremacy and oppression.

In early 2002, I used to drive from my last office cubicle past that statue to Fountain Lake every lunchtime to eat my sandwich alone and plot my freelance escape from corporate America.

Columbus has been fished out of the water and is stored in a secret location.

HBO Max has pulled Gone with the Wind from its library. This might just finish off 103-year-old Olivia de Havilland, the only living cast member. It certainly must have Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh — not to forget Margaret Mitchell, who created it — spinning in their graves.

I got the book in paperback for Christmas when I was 10 (the same year I got Little Women) and I remember reading it straight through TWICE. In 1965, Scarlett O’Hara and Jo March were my paradoxical role models. This still hangs upstairs…

And this is on the landing…

This in no way means I endorse Gone with the Wind. I’ve actually been wanting to replace them both with relaxing seascapes. I’ve had them for at least 40 years and need a change; Gable is custom-framed.

Speaking of movies, last night I needed comedy, so I watched The Onion Movie from 2008. It was stupid, gross, lewd and sometimes funny. Really a series of skits hanging around a loose fantasy about The Onion being a respected news network. Its lead anchorman revolts at the network’s acquisition and commercialization by a huge corporation that’s using his news broadcast to promote a movie franchise called Cockpuncher.

This tells you all you need to know about that.

So next I watched What We Do In the Shadows, the movie from New Zealand that morphed into the FX TV series I love. In the movie, four male vampires share a house who range in age from 183 to 8,000. Their familiar is a housewife with a husband and kids who comes by to clean up their victims’ blood and run errands in hopes of being given immortal life.

It had many good moments, especially when the vampires faced off against a gang of werewolves. But the TV show is 100% funnier.

They share the same theme music, and the houses are baroque and creepy. But the show added a female vampire and a human-looking energy vampire. Their familiar is an overweight nerd with no life beyond serving them. These changes open up so many more plot possibilities, I better appreciate how brilliant the TV adaptation is.

Tony has a new hidy hole. Well, he’s been hanging out here for a few weeks, but with his camera savvy, it’s been hard to capture.

I often don’t realize he spends hours in the corner under my desk until I quit at dinnertime and he comes out. He’s there right now and has been all afternoon. But I did manage to catch a few shots…

BONUS: Here’s Sarah Cooper channeling Trump on “How to Bunker”…


Chapter 64: COVID Chronicles

May 31, 2020

By Karen

Day 81

While Richmond Roils, a Lazy Sunday in the ‘Burbs

Richmond had riots again last night. They tried to burn the stone headquarters of the Daughters of the Confederacy. That building is next to the Virginia Museum of Fine Art, which has many large sculptures on the grounds, including this one of red glass by Dale Chihuly that could have been turned into dandy weapons…

Fortunately, I think the protesters spared the outdoor art, but blocks away they sprayed graffiti all over the Confederate statues — Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, Jefferson Davis — on Monument Avenue…

Monument Avenue is a broad and stately residential street lined with pricey old homes, and these statues sit in the intersections. I can only imagine how terrified the people living there must have been with hordes rampaging through their neighborhood.

There was more looting and burning, and the police sprayed tear gas.

Large protests are underway in the city today as I write this, but what I’ve seen so far has been peaceful. Tonight there’s an 8 p.m. curfew, so we’ll see how that goes.

Today the weather is perfect: mid-70s, sunny, breezy, not humid. All the windows are open and the cats have been scampering around trying to see everything.

But Roc stomped on my last nerve first thing this morning, as he usually does when I’m doing a chore I hate, changing the sheets. Actually, I hate folding sheets even more. He thinks it’s a game…

Last night I ordered some books from Amazon and they’re here already! Max immediately picked out his favorite…

My house is so full of books, I had to stop buying and start downloading instead. However, some books require touching, and these three are like that.

I became aware of cartoonist and cat poet Francesco Marciuliano with his first volume, I Could Pee on This. I also have I Knead My Mommy, which is poems by kittens. He’s written several others.

Today I got his two latest, from 2018 and 2019, respectively: Claw the System: Poems from the Cat Uprising and All Cats Are Introverts (Max’s pick).

Formatted like my book, How to Work Like a CAT (which I kick myself for not milking more, like Marciuliano has done with his idea), these books are quick reads, but full of cat wisdom. I’ll share one example from Claw the System:

Through My Eyes

I want you to think
How it would be
To be as small as I am
To be as frightened as I am
To never understand what one is saying
Yet always being told what I can’t be doing
To have to gaze up
At those who look down
Hence why I tripped you in the hall
So that maybe while you’re on the
floor looking for your tooth
You can final see the world
from my point of view

Max has spent the past few days holed up in the Man Cave. He came downstairs unexpectedly this afternoon and sat in the rocker that no one has gone near in months. I changed his bed blanket in the Man Cave this morning to one that looks like what’s on the rocker, so maybe that attracted him.

The rocker immediately became the hottest ticket in the house. Naturally, Roc the bully couldn’t let Max keep the best seat, and you know what happened…

So Max rejoined me on the couch. I think his look says, “Are you going to start reading me these books or do I have to show you some claw?…

While Roc was sitting at the open window earlier, he saw his friend from the deck. Squirrely is well-camouflaged, so I point out where he was…

I tried many times today to catch Tony looking cute, but he’d see me and keep running toward me. A second ago, he humored me long enough to catch this…

The third book I ordered was Silence in the Age of Noise by Erling Kagge, a Norwegian author (but I got the English translation). The little stories are meant to be savored slowly, so I’ll let you know about that one later.

I like silence. Even though I work at home, during the day I never have on the TV or music because background babbling drives me nuts. But sometimes at night when I can’t sleep, I play the ocean on my iPad as white noise, and then drift off imagining I’m on a ship in the middle of nowhere.

These days, the middle of nowhere seems the safest place to be.


Chapter 58: COVID Chronicles

May 25, 2020

By Karen

Day 75

Two Duds & A Gem

I love musicals, so last night I finally got around to the 2012 movie of Les Misérables with Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway…

To its credit, I’ll say it’s aptly named.

I knew it would be heavy, but… Oh. My. God. The filth, the poverty, the cruelty, the singing. It didn’t let up for ONE SECOND. To steal a line from Anthony Lane’s review at The New Yorker, “I screamed a scream as time went by.”

The acting was excellent; even the nonmusical actors managed to sing the tuneless dialogue. Now I know why so little of that score became popular — it’s specific to a very dragged out, convoluted story. “24601” would be mistaken for a zip code today.

Hoping to cut to the chase, I looked up Victor Hugo’s book. Did you know it was 655,478 words in the original French divided into 48 books, 365 chapters spanning 2,783 pages, with 955 pages Hugo’s philosophical digressions? That explained a lot.

When Cosette grew into Amanda Seyfried and started making goo-goo eyes at Eddie Redmayne, I’d seen enough. Life’s too short.

But staying in 19th century France, up next was Madame Bovary starring Mia Wasikowska…

Bizarrely, the throwaway part of Emma’s maid was played by Laura Carmichael who, in 2014 when this was made, was famous as Lady Edith on Downton Abbey Season 5. What the hell were they thinking with that casting? Carmichael did her screen test on DA playing bored and love-starved, then desperate to hide her deceit and bad judgment — yet she was the MAID who barely had two lines? WTF?

Wasikowska was a shallow and childish Emma, and she had ZERO chemistry with her lovers, even when she flashed boob.

I read Flaubert’s book in my teens and saw the 1949 version with Jennifer Jones and Louis Jourdan. Who wouldn’t fall madly for Louis Jourdan? But by the end of this remake, my sympathy was with Emma’s cheated-on, bankrupted husband (who was too young and good-looking for the part) and it was a relief when she drank poison.

My last show was the Irving Berlin musical Holiday Inn on PBS’ Great Performances…

There’s no dirt at Holiday Inn, no misery or oppression, no abused prostitutes or orphans. Just happy people in beautiful costumes tap-dancing and singing one glorious Irving Berlin showstopper after another. I think this one kept me from having nightmares last night.

And now on the cat beat, I finally caught Max on film taking the scenic route from the Man Cave to the living room. It usually happens in seconds — three leaps — boom, boom, boom. But when he saw my phone, he got four cold feet. (The magazine hanging from the bookcase is a claw protector)…

BONUS: “Simon’s Cat” has been around for years, but I just found this compilation of “Daily Routines” in his “Stay Home Collection.” I swear my cats have pulled 95% of these stunts on me. Every time I see these bits, I laugh. Just picture Roc as Simon and Tony as his kitten partner in crime…


Chapter 17: COVID Chronicles

April 14, 2020

By Karen

Day 34

Beards & “Belgravia”

The wind and rain stopped and the temperature dropped about 20 degrees, which I appreciate. The longer we can put off hot, sticky summer, the better. Especially if we’re still wearing masks. I tried on the mask my sister made (good thing, it was loose). Once I positioned it so I don’t steam up my glasses, it’s really hot.

Which brings me to a philosophical question: WHY do men use this lockdown is an excuse to let their scraggly, scratchy, hideous mustaches and beards grow wild? Don’t they realize whiskers around the nose and mouth are virus-catchers? Do they expect their partners to risk their own lives kissing bristles? Do they have shit for brains?

The CDC actually weighed in on facial hair as it applies to men wearing respirator masks.

Today is drama-free. Roc supervised me for a while from his usual spot on top of the printer…

Enabling Max to repo his favorite bed in the Man Cave. Max is happy about that…

Promptly at noon, Tony herded me downstairs for lunch. I had my weekly ramen noodles, but I’d saved a bit of Swiss cheese for Tony, which he snarfed down (I got out my fake peonies for spring)…

Then Tony adjourned to his kitty perch to digest…

Because Roc was hogging the best sunny spot in the living room…

Last night I watched Episode 1 of Belgravia, the six-part Julian Fellowes series on Epix adapted from his novel by the same name. It’s set 100 years before Downton Abbey. This first hour spanned Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo in 1815 to the invention of afternoon tea in 1841, which was portrayed as an alcohol-free, ladies-only cocktail party, with everyone remarking on how weird it was to eat little cakes in the afternoon.

Caroline, Countess of Brockenhurst is a pivotal character played by Harriet Walter, who seems to snag (well, she or Anne Reid) every distinguished old English lady role that pops up. Walter was Lady Shackleton in Downton Abbey, the widow that Dowager Countess Violet unsuccessfully enlisted to lure Lord Merton away from Cousin Isabel. I’ve also recently seen her in The Spanish Princess and Succession.

Now I’m more interested in her character than the star, Tamsin Grieg, who plays the other matriarch, Anne Trenchard. Grieg seems miscast, too young for the part. In 1815, she has a daughter at least 18 years old who falls in love with Countess Caroline’s son. Twenty-six years later, the Countess is geriatric but Anne looks pretty much the same.

One note: I thought Anne called her daughter “Sapphire.” But when the father said it at some point, I realized it was “Sophia” and everyone was saying “Sa-FY-a.”

The servants had one scene below stairs, sitting around their table, Downton-style, gossiping about their betters. I let it go right by because it doesn’t seem there’s enough time for them to gain any traction.

The clothes and sets are sumptuous, but so far it’s leaving me meh. I’m disappointed. Maybe it will grow on me. Here’s a review of Belgravia.

BONUS: Here’s the Belgravia review I should have linked to. Just found it. It’s hilarious.


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