I watched Jacques Demy’s “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” for the first time the other night. What an original and beautiful film. The colors were so vibrant and the music playful at times, haunting at others, stayed in my mind. The two main characters – Guy (Nino Castelnuovo) and Geneviève (Catherine Deneuve) – I felt were entirely believable as the young lovers at the center of the story. Only the most cynical could resist being infected by their romantic enthusiasm, and ease in each other’s company. I wouldn’t want to give too much away for those who have never seen the film, but suffice to say it’s wonderful. It’s not so much a musical as it is an opera in that all of the dialogue is sung. But it works on screen.
I’ll be discussing, and signing copies, of my book, “Rendezvous with Death”, on Thursday (December 22nd) at Short Stories Bookshop in Madison, NJ. The shop moved across the street into a historic building on the corner of Main & Green Village. The event begins at 7 p.m. Hope you can make it if you’re in the area.
Since BBC America aired its 50th Anniversary Star Trek marathon back in August, I’ve been tuning in religiously to its Friday evening broadcasts. MeTV also airs one episode each Saturday evening. One of the things that I’ve found stands out is how far ahead of its time it was regarding issues of racial toleration and cultural understanding. Spock in particular, though he is supposed to be a computer-like Vulcan, displays so much humanity and moral fiber. The interplay between Spock, Kirk, and Dr. McCoy is some of the best acting and writing ever seen on television, in my opinion. Last June, I was fortunate enough to be in attendance at a commencement address given by George Takei, who played Sulu. His experience working on the show and getting to know its creator, Gene Rodenberry, clearly had made a significant impact on his life. He discussed technology and modernity in the address, but his main point of emphasis was on toleration and understanding – the idea that there was room in the galaxy for all of us, regardless of the shape of our eyes, ears, noses or the color of our skin, and so on. For instance, in one episode one of the main characters is blind and another is so revolting in appearance they drive anyone who looks upon them without protective eye gear, mad. Yet without them Spock’s life, and the Enterprise, would be lost.
I think we should all be watching Star Trek these days. It’s science fiction escapism, but it’s also us, as humans, at our best. An example of what we can be.
I agree 100% with the remarks made by historians David McCullough, Vicki Lynn Ruiz, and Ron Chernow in the video posted by the New York Times:
This is a photograph of the Nieuport no. 11 aircraft in the collection of the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome in Red Hook, New York. This was the model initially used by the first pilots of the squadron that would later become known as the Lafayette Escadrille. Among those pilots were William Thaw, Victor Chapman, Kiffin Rockwell, and Bert Hall: all of them volunteers of 1914. I will be speaking at the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome on Sunday, August 21st @ 1:00 p.m., and signing copies of my book. It is located near the Hyde Park/Rhinebeck home of FDR in the picturesque Hudson Valley approximately one hour north of New York City. Here is a link to the aerodrome’s web site: http://oldrhinebeck.org/ORA/?page_id=334
Driving down Washington Street in Gloucester, Massachusetts I’ve often wondered why a large statue of Joan of Arc was placed so prominently in one of the city squares there. I could see no historical connection between the city, founded in 1623 by English settlers, and the French maiden who inspired her countrymen to drive out the English in the 15th century. But in today’s edition of the Gloucester Daily Times in the “Then and Now” section the story of the statue was explained.
Joan of Arc is mounted on horseback with her a sword raised in her right arm facing the Legion Memorial Building. This building was dedicated to those Gloucester residents that served in World War I. The French saint is meant to evoke the bond between the Americans and their French comrades-in-arms during the war. The statue is a copy of one that was sculpted by a Gloucester summer resident, Anna Vaughn Hyatt Huntington. It was placed on its pedestal in the square in 1921, three years after the end of World War I.