Chapter 116: COVID Chronicles

August 6, 2020

By Karen

Day 148

Tony Becomes Couch-Curious & Dreaming of a Trump–Lisbeth Salander Matchup

Tony’s over the moon that his post has raised $250 (Thank you!) in the Richmond Animal League’s 2021 Calendar Contest to help once-homeless dogs and kitties like Max, Roc and Tony get medical care and a second chance at life.

Tony hopes to be a top-12 fundraiser and get his name and face on a calendar page as a tribute to Anthony Bourdain. If you can help him by August 22 with a donation of any size, please do.

In the meantime, I think I need a bigger couch. Lately, Tony’s been angling for a spot, but Roc and Max aren’t giving an inch. This morning, Max wasn’t even in “the” coveted purple spot when Tony tested the water…

Now, to literature: When my friend Shelley told me about the Swedish crime novel, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, it didn’t sound like my kind of thing. But I read it and Lisbeth Salander, the “Girl,” has earned her place beside Jane Eyre, Jo March, Scarlett O’Hara and any other steely heroine you can name.

Larsson intended a 10-book “Millennium series,” but had only finished three, not yet published, when he died unexpectedly in 2004.

Films were made in Sweden of all three books, starring Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth…

What happened with the series after Larsson’s death between his long-time partner Eva Gabrielsson and his executors is an unfinished story in itself, which you can read about in the link above.

I thought no actress could compete with Noomi Rapace until an American Dragon Tattoo came out starring Rooney Mara…

Several years later, Americans filmed the third book, The Girl in the Spider’s Web, with Claire Foy, the softest incarnation of Lisbeth…

But back to the books. After Larsson’s nearly complete fourth novel and notes for others got tied up in squabbling, his publisher hired Swedish author and crime journalist David Lagercrantz to continue the series. He wrote three more and now says he’s finished. I’m reading his last book, The Girl Who Lived Twice, and it’s a shame because he has stayed true to the characters and added some great twists.

In the past week, I’ve also rewatched movies starring all three actresses. I’ve chosen Noomi Rapace’s Lisbeth as best to deal with Trump.

A bit of backstory: Larsson’s original title, which was oddly translated to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, was Män som Hatar Kvinnor (Men Who Hate Women). Being abused and tortured by misogynists all her life is what turns Lisbeth Salander into literature’s ultimate avenging badass.

My Salander-Trump match-up fantasy is a situation from the first book. Picture this:

Trump has been put in charge of Salander’s personal finances (that’s all you need to know). Before she can get an advance on her “allowance,” he forces her to give him a blowjob in his office. The next time she needs money, he invites her to his apartment. She expects more oral stuff, but he ties her up and violently rapes her.

Can you picture Trump doing that to a woman? Sure you can.

When she comes back AGAIN, he thinks she’s into him. Instead, she tasers him, strips him, trusses him up like a steer, and forces him to watch a secret video she filmed from her purse while he was attacking her. She threatens to use it to ruin him if he ever crosses her path again.

As a final touch, she tattoos, “I’M A SADIST PIG AND A RAPIST” in big, bloody, sloppy letters all over his chest.

Now that I think of it, this is probably something like Trump fears Putin will do to him if he ever makes a peep against Russia.

Lisbeth Salander, I wish you were real.

BONUS: When Trump called Yosemite National Park “Yo-Semite” and “Yo-Semin-ite”…

My sister Keri and her actor friend Dan Ruth made this parody, which Keri hopes will go viral…

DOUBLE BONUS: I just loved this scene of Hitler bemoaning Trump’s miserable crowd failure in Tulsa…


Chapter 113: COVID Chronicles

July 27, 2020

By Karen

Day 138

Cats are BAACCKK! & More TV Time

The humidity is still terrible in Richmond. I’ve lost count of how many weeks straight it’s been feeling over 100o with only occasional violent thunderstorms. No end in sight.

Confederate statues continue to disappear. One night last week they spirited away a bunch of busts and figures from the state Capitol (including a Robert E. Lee), while a court battle still rages over the the huge Lee statue on horseback standing on Monument Avenue.

Virginia has yet another Lee statue at the Washington, D.C., Capitol and wants to remove it but hasn’t decided what to replace it with.

In the meantime, our only daily newspaper, the Richmond Times-Dispatch, must delight in having Civil War “news” for the front page every day.

Tony Rubberband Update: It’s been 10 days since I think Tony swallowed the rubberband and so far we have had no “outcome.” I wonder if having that much indigestible elastic in his tummy will work like stomach stapling to lower his capacity and he’ll lose some weight. So far he seems fine. He got right up in my face to say “Hi”…


Max and Roc have finally reached an amicable sharing arrangement on the couch, and mostly take orderly turns. Max even returned to the rocker for a spell…

And Roc, lying in the path of a fan as always, says “Howdy!”…

Movie Recommendation: I don’t know what made me DVR it, but I caught this absolute confection of a movie last week from 2008 called Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, a light, lavish 1930s-style Art Deco screwball comedy, complete with Cole Porter music.

To top it off, the cast included a few actors I love, like Stephanie Cole (Waiting for God, Doc Martin) and Tom Payne of Prodigal Son on Fox.

Prodigal Son is in the second half of its first season, and I’d liken it to a less gory Dexter. Payne plays Malcolm Bright, the son of a serial killer known as “The Surgeon,” a real-life surgeon with a family who committed at least 23 murders on the side. Payne grew up unwittingly learning the ropes from his father and now works as a profiler with the NYPD.

The show would be your typical murder of the week police procedural except that Malcolm has mysteries from his past to unravel. While trying to do that and solve crimes, Malcolm often has to consult with his father, who’s now in prison, crazy-brilliant and still homicidal.

Michael Sheen (Masters of Sex) plays The Surgeon. In the few scenes he gets, he always steals the show and keeps drawing the other characters to him like an evil magnetic force. Anyway, I love it.

BONUS: Randy Rainbow raided West Side Story to compose “Gee, Anthony Fauci!”…

DOUBLE BONUS: Trump’s in his last 99 days of playing a tyrant, and comedian Sarah Cooper shows how he mastered “person, woman, man, camera TV”…

PS: As Mary Trump’s been making the talk show rounds to promote her book, Too Much and Never Enough, I’d like just one journalist to ask her why she thinks Trump became a Republican to run for president. I feel sure the answer would be a real sock in the jaw to his supporters.

PPS: I’m now on a twice-weekly schedule, planning posts for Mondays and Thursdays.


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 106: COVID Chronicles

July 12, 2020

By Karen

Day 123

Trump Finally Masks Up & Natalie Wood Still Haunts Us

Today marks exactly four months I’ve been cooped up. Last night I got another haul of Chinese takeout to put off going to the grocery store a few more days. I feel safer spending a few minutes at China Taste’s plexiglass window than wandering through a whole Aldi or Food Lion, possibly among mask-free Trumpers.

Virginia just hit 70,000 cases, with daily figures increasing from roughly 600 to 900. The foolhardy reopening, against Governor Northam’s medical training and common sense, seems to be catching up with us.

Meanwhile, Trump returned to Walter Reed to visit wounded troops — the ones who cheated Trump’s buddy Putin of the opportunity to pay a bounty on their corpses — and Trump wore a mask…

During his chopper talk before leaving the White House, Trump said he thinks it’s customary to wear masks in hospitals (DUH, ya THINK?) and that he’s “never” been against wearing masks.

His lies just keep spewing like a firehose.

Meanwhile, his little buddy Roger Stone minces off with a nice commutation from 40 months in the slammer for seven felonies, just in time for Stone to commit more helping Trump cheat to a second term.

On the home front, this morning I washed a big load of cat blankies, including the purple one at the center of Roc and Max’s struggle over the couch. I’m wondering if it’s the location or the blankie that’s drawing Max, and plan an experiment tonight if he comes downstairs.

Right after I used a pet glove to clean fur off the couch cover, Roc had to claim the sunny spot. Tony prefers to bask upright. He looks so big!…

But as soon as Tony noticed me taking his picture, he came at me like a celebrity flushing paparazzi out of the bushes…

I have almost enough to build a kitten from what came off the blankies in the dryer, but at least it’s not fur stuck all over the house…

Speaking of celebrities, last night I watched the new HBO documentary, Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind. Her daughter, Natasha Gregson Wagner, who was 11 when Natalie died, provides much of the commentary. In one creepy scene, she sits opposite Robert Wagner, now 90, as he retells what happened that night on the boat.

Natasha believes he’s blameless, but he didn’t look at all like he was telling the whole truth.

According to him, it was just another night at anchor near Catalina. Natalie was down in their cabin getting ready for bed, and when he went down later, she’d left the boat for no reason whatsoever.

Actor Christopher Walken was also on board. He’d done Brainstorm with Natalie, and its director declared they couldn’t have been having an affair because they had zero chemistry during filming. I have no opinion on that.

I’m also not saying that I think either man pushed Natalie overboard. But I do believe things turned nasty, most likely a fight between Natalie and Wagner over something. Both men know exactly why Natalie left the boat. They were probably relieved to have her go sit in the dinghy to cool down and never dreamed she’d do anything life-threatening.

If Wagner dies first, I hope Walken finally comes clean. For now, they’re sticking to their pact of mutual silence to protect somebody.


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 101: COVID Chronicles

July 7, 2020

By Karen

Day 118

A Fun Escape to Song and Dance

Over the weekend I got lost in three musicals to forget for a few hours COVID and Trump’s exhausting hate and ignorance. No matter what the reviews say, every time I see these movies, I find something new about them and love them even more.

Mel Brooks’ masterpiece The Producers starred Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, with Uma Thurman for sex. I noticed a bit player named “Kiss Mee-Feel Me,” one of the little old ladies who finance Max Bialystock’s flops, was Andrea Martin, aka Aunt Voula in My Big Fat Greek Wedding (a comedy I love).

This number, “Betrayed,” performed by Lane near the end of the movie, gives a synopsis of the whole show and is as close to a tour-de-force as it gets…

Next I visited Chicago with Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renée Zellweger, Richard Gere and Queen Latifah. I’d forgotten how good this was. And this time I was surprised to see in the small role of Fred, Roxie Hart’s lover whose murder in the beginning gets the whole story rolling, Dominic West, who later went on to greater things in the series, The Affair, which I highly recommend. Here’s the Chicago finale…

And finally, I went back to 1776. It was released in 1972, the year came to Virginia. I must have seen it after I got here, because a line that’s always stuck with me came in a scene between John and Abigail Adams, discussing how John brought Thomas Jefferson’s wife Martha to Philadelphia to help Thomas get his rocks off so he could focus on writing the Declaration of Independence.

Abigail: How do you suppose she managed to get away?

John: Well, the winters are softer in Virginia.

Abigail: And their women, John?

John: Fit for Virginians, but pale, puny things beside New England girls.

Yes!!

Anyway, TCM ran the restored full version and it includes “Cool, Cool, Considerate Men,” a number that was cut at Richard Nixon’s insistence.

If you view no other clip in this post, WATCH THIS. Imagine the performers are Trump’s Senate enablers in wigs and tights, led by Mitch McConnell…


Chapter 99: COVID Chronicles

July 5, 2020

By Karen

Day 116

Kitties Hate Fireworks & Catching Up on Movies

Last night, Roc and Tony were jumpy during the barrage of July 4 fireworks, celebratory 2nd Amendment gunfire and explosives that went off mainly between 9:00 and 10:00 p.m. We felt some big booms quite close to the house, but I couldn’t see who was behind them. Through the trees, I did catch a bit of the fireworks, but I have no idea who put on that show.

This was really Tony’s first Independence Day. Last year, he was a tiny four-week-old kitten fighting to survive.

I was just refreshing on Tony’s roots in his paperwork, and discovered a freaky coincidence. It appears Tony and Roc are both alumni of the Happy Tails rescue in Abingdon, which is in the western corner of Virginia. The Richmond Animal League takes in animals from shelters that euthanize or do fewer adoptions so the little guys have a better shot at finding a forever home. So, Tony and Roc took exactly the same path to find me.

When movies are released and I don’t get to the cinema, I put them on a watch list and check periodically to see if they’ve made it to TV. I just caught two.

The first was A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, with Ton Hanks wonderfully channeling the gentle spirit of Mr. Rogers…

His co-star is Matthew Rhys (The Americans), who starts out as a cynical investigative journalist who initially resents being assigned a 400-word magazine fluff piece on Rogers. He morphs it into a 10,000-word cover story, and the friendship with Mr. Rogers that develops changes his outlook.

As a kid, I preferred Captain Kangaroo and Romper Room to Mr. Rogers. But after seeing this movie, I regret it. After you watch, you’ll feel better about the world — until the next time Trump opens his mouth.

Aside: I’m watching Matthew Rhys in an HBO prequel/remake of Perry Mason. Here, Perry is a seedy private investigator working a baby kidnapping and murder case. I find Rys convincing, but after two episodes, I don’t see how or why anyone felt compelled to call him Perry Mason, nor how he’ll make the leap from grubby PI to slick  attorney. He gets his clean ties off stiffs in the city morgue.

The other movie that blew me away was The Good Liar, with Helen Mirren and Ian McKellen. They “randomly” meet through online dating and it’s immediately revealed that McKellen is a swindler who’ll con anyone for a buck. His partner in crime is, of all people, Mr. Carson from Downton Abbey (Jim Carter).

When McKellen determines that Mirren is a well-off widow, he plays on her sympathy until she invites him to stay in her house as her companion.

As his and Carson’s scheme to clean her out gains momentum, you’re rooting for Mirren, hoping she’s really the better liar and figures out a way to save herself. But the ending has a twist I didn’t see coming. It was mind-blowing, yet satisfying. No spoilers here.


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 95: COVID Chronicles

July 1, 2020

By Karen

Day 112

Roc May Feel Guilty & EU Shunning Gets to Me

I call this Roc’s “Hall of Good Intentions.” For the past week, he’s been bringing presents to my bedroom that never quite make it all the way (of course, Tony was on hand to photo-bomb)…

Maybe Roc’s trying to make it up to me for his sleeping in the living room with Max as their contest to determine King of the Couch continues. Meanwhile, Tony has been coming to bed with me and seems to enjoy having me all to himself (I’ve been taking lots of pics of him because he’s currently helping a good cause and hopes to become a star, details coming soon)…

Last night for the first time, Tony cuddled in the crook of my arm, which meant I spent that time lying on my back, a position I can’t fall asleep in. But it seemed like an affection breakthrough, so I stayed put as long as Tony did.

In yesterday’s comments, talking about the EU ban on Americans, I mentioned to our Danish reader the song about Copenhagen that Danny Kaye sang in the movie Hans Christian Andersen

I got teary-eyed watching it. Americans becoming unwelcome pariahs in much of the world, thanks to Trump fostering spread of COVID-19 here with unbridled glee and doing NOTHING to help the states contain it, makes me feel hopeless and almost worse than this fucking lockdown.

If you’ve never traveled outside the country, you don’t miss it. But after once having strolled around some of the most beautiful cities of Europe, finding yourself cut off from them because your country’s leader is a demented, murderous monster is crushing.

It brought to mind this song from the show, Do I Hear a Waltz?, which I believe to be an underrated musical. Richard Rodgers composed the music and produced it in 1965. It was originally intended to be a Rodgers and Hammerstein show, but Oscar Hammerstein died of cancer. One of his final wishes was to have a young composer he’d mentored, Stephen Sondheim, write the lyrics.

Neither Rodgers nor Sondheim thought the book, The Time of the Cuckoo by Arthur Laurents, made good material for a musical, and it ultimately ran for only 220 performances on Broadway.

You know the story if you ever saw the 1955 movie Summertime with Katharine Hepburn and Rossanno Brazzi. Hepburn plays a spinster secretary who, while on a once-in-a-lifetime vacation in Venice, meets and falls in love with a semi-married shopkeeper. Elizabeth Allen and Sergio Franchi had those roles on Broadway.

This song you’ve probably never heard, This Week Americans, is sung by the proprietress of the Venetian pensione where the spinster stays. Sondheim managed to work in just about every cultural stereotype you can think of, but it reflects how, once we dump Trump, I hope the world can think of Americans again…


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”…


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