Last year, I posted the Declaration of Independence in its entirety.  This year, I give you “The Signing” from one of my favorite movies of all time, 1776.  No, the Founding Fathers did not sing and dance their way through the Revolution, but there are still enough facts in this play/movie that it cannot be called “mindless entertainment.”

This scene gives me chills each and every time I see it.  If you ever get a chance to watch this movie, I cannot recommend it highly enough.  It’s on TCM this evening at 5 Eastern time.  Enjoy!

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Thanks to Tropical Storm Debby, I was able to finish 2 books this weekend.

First was That Woman, a new biography of Wallis Simpson by Anne Sebba.  My knowledge of the story of Edward VIII and Mrs. Simpson was gleaned from books, movies and newspaper articles in which the couple were mentioned, but I had never read any biographies about either of them.  One of the things that appealed to me about this book is that Ms. Sebba read letters, journals and contemporary accounts of the events that led up to Edward’s abdication and then his marriage to Wallis.

I had never had much sympathy for either of them, to be honest, and this book made me have even less.  They both come across as being selfish, self-absorbed hedonists.  The big difference between the two of them is that Edward was weak and desperate to be led, and Wallis was manipulative and more than happy to “wear the pants” in the family.  They both complained a lot and blamed others for all of their problems.  Edward doesn’t seem to have cared much about his duty to his country.  His attitude is so different from that of his niece, Elizabeth II, who has devoted her life to her country during her 60 years on the throne.  We are told several times during the course of the book that, in the grand scheme of things, it’s a good thing that Edward did not continue on as King and that George VI was there to lead his country through the horrors of WWII.

The other book I read this weekend was Murder on Fifth Avenue, the 14th entry in Victoria Thompson’s “Gaslight” series (as an aside, this synopsis was obviously written well before the book was published because there is no Algernon Abernathy in the book; the character referred to in this synopsis is named Chilton Devries in the book).  I mentioned in my review of Threadbare, Monica Ferris’ 15th Needlework Mystery, that I thought the series was getting old and that I didn’t know how many more of the books I would bother to read.  I had the same worries about Murder on Fifth Avenue when I learned it was about to come out.  But, in this case, my worries were for naught.  I really enjoyed this book.  There were 2 murders in this story and, while I did not figure out who killed these people, I did manage to figure out some of the other plot twists before Sarah and Frank did.  So #14 gets 2 thumbs up from me.

It’s now after 7:30 and the weather in Florida is still awful (and looks to be awful for the foreseeable future), but I likely won’t get any more reading done tonight; RA and CC are facing each other in Queens starting in about 1/2 hour and it should be a good game. LGM!

I just finished the most recent entry in Rhys Bowen’s Royal Spyness series.  This one is called Naughty in Nice and is book 5 in the series.  This entry is just as much fun as the previous four.

In this book Georgie finds herself on the French Riviera and, of course, mayhem ensues.  As usual, we spend time with Queen Mary, the Prince of Wales and Mrs. Simpson, along with Binky, Fig, Belinda, Darcy and Georgie’s Mum and Granddad.  Queenie is her usual klutzy self, and Georgie still can’t bring herself to fire this incompetent lady’s maid.  We also get to meet Coco Chanel, who asks Georgie to model for her.

It’s a very quick read, but it’s a lot of fun, and I honestly did not figure out who the murderer was until just about the same time Georgie does.  The characters are interesting, the dialogue is fun and the stories keep me coming back.  I highly recommend this series, and am looking forward to reading book #6, whatever it may be.

I just finished Monica Ferris’ latest Needlecraft Mystery, Threadbare.  As my regular readers know, I have been a fan of this series since the beginning, but Threadbare just didn’t do it for me.  I figured out pretty quickly “whodunnit” and wasn’t really impressed at how Betsy figured it out.  There are times when I’ve figured out who the murderer is and the fun is seeing how the author wraps everything up.  But in this book, I actually got bored.

Ferris does something different in this book than she has in her other books.  Here, we get inside the head of several characters and all of them could have reasons to commit murder.  I don’t remember her using this technique in any of her other books, and it seemed to me throughout that she was getting desperate in trying to prevent us from figuring out who the murderer was too early in the story.  But I figured it out almost immediately upon meeting the character, and nothing changed my mind.

In the final analysis, I’ll give this series another go, but I haven’t enjoyed the last few books.  I liked the earlier books enough that I will definitely be sorry to say good-bye but, if the future books in the series are as obvious as the last few have been, I won’t have trouble moving on.

That’s a direct quote from Gary Cohen, the TV voice of my beloved New York Mets.

The reason? After 8,019 games, a New York Met has pitched a no-hitter.  OK, it wasn’t a perfect game (5 Cardinals reached base via walks and there was a very, very bad call during a Carlos Beltran at bat), but it was still a no-hitter and Mets fans all over the world will still take it.  Johan Santana, who is already one of the great pitchers of his era, is now part of Mets history.  I am still in shock.

The Mets have had some incredible pitchers on their pitching staff: Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Nolan Ryan, etc., etc., etc., and none of them pitched a no-hitter as a Met.  But Johan Santana, who Terry Collins wanted to keep on a pitch count, threw more pitches than he ever had and ended the game on a strikeout.

It was beautiful.  I have been at hundreds of Mets games over the past 50 years, and have watched and/or listened to thousands more, and this ranks up towards the top. Gary Cohen is on the radio post-game with Howie Rose, and they both sound all choked up.  We all know they are life long Mets fans, and they are just as happy as we are.  Thank goodness tomorrow is Saturday, so I can stay up late and watch/listen to the coverage.

The Mets have posted highlights at their website.  At some point, I’m thinking the game itself will be available for sale at iTunes.  I will most assuredly be buying it.

Thank you, Johan.  Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

I first saw this movie via DVD a couple of years ago and I loved it.  Being that this is Memorial Day weekend here in the US, it’s been on the various HBO channels and I made time to watch it again.  I freely admit that I sobbed off and on during the entire film.

Taking Chance is the true story of Lt. Colonel Mike Strobl, a Marine who worked at the Pentagon (he has since retired), and who wrote the screenplay for Taking Chance.  One day, he was reading the casualty list and saw the name of Pfc Chance Phelps, a 19-year-old Marine who died in Anbar Province.  Phelps died protecting his colleagues and was posthumously promoted to lance corporal.  Strobl asked his superiors if he could escort Phelps’ remains to his hometown in Wyoming, and permission was granted, even though men in Strobl’s position did not usually perform this task.

The movie is the story of Strobl’s trip from Virginia to Wyoming to take Chance Phelps home to his parents.  It is gut-wrenching, it is powerful and it is beautiful.  I cannot recommend it highly enough, on Memorial Day, Veterans’ Day or any other day.  It’s an outstanding movie, and all Americans should see it.

Here are a couple of links that will add to one’s knowledge of the real events that inspired the movie:

And, last but certainly not least, to all of the men and women who have put their lives on the line to protect and defend the rest of us, I say “thank you.”

I spent part of last weekend with the local JASNA chapter in Clearwater, where we watched a Latina version of Sense & Sensibility called From Prada to Nada.  It stars nobody I’ve ever heard of and I went into it with no preconceived notions whatsoever.  The group I was with had a lovely time, and we thoroughly enjoyed the movie.

With very few exceptions, the skeleton of S&S is still intact.  Nora and Mary Dominguez are the daughters of a rich man in LA.  One day, he suffers a massive heart attack and dies.  At the reading of the will, they learn 2 very surprising things.  First, that they are destitute, since their father was in bankruptcy and second, that he’d had an affair years earlier and they had a half brother named Gabe.  Gabe (= John Dashwood) and his wife, Olivia ( = Fanny Dashwood) buy and sell houses for a living, so they buy the Dominguez home and Olivia kicks out Nora and Mary.  The girls end up moving in with a maternal aunt (= Mrs. Jennings?) in East LA, where they experience massive culture shock.  They are Mexicans who don’t speak Spanish, so they are like the proverbial fish out of water in that part of town.

Mary is a college student, and she falls head over heels for a rich Mexican TA named Rodrigo ( = Willoughby).  He turns out to be married and buys Mary and Nora’s childhood home for his wife.  Nora falls for Olivia’s brother, an attorney named Edward Ferris (close, but no cigar to “Ferrars”), and ends up working for him at his law firm (she quit law school when she learned she was poor).  The Colonel Brandon character is a local gardener named Pablo; we do not get to know him well enough to learn if there is any young Eliza in his life. Mary almost dies in a car accident when she learns of Rodrigo’s behavior, but we never see him again, and he certainly never “apologizes” for what he did.  Nora drives Edward away because he does not fit into her “10-year plan,” but she realizes how much she loves him when he gets engaged to Olivia’s friend Lucy (who is not a villain here).  Of course, she gets him in the end, but the way this happens was a little awkward.

There is a subplot about Nora and Edward providing pro bono legal assistance to some Mexican janitors, but that neither adds nor detracts from the story being told.  One twist that is not from the original story is that Gabe realizes just how awful his wife is, so he dumps her and ends up becoming friends with his sisters.

So, yes it’s a modernized version of the story, and yes, the fact that it is less than 2 hours long means that much of the story is gone, but this is still a very entertaining movie and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I’m looking forward to seeing it again, and this time I’ll watch the various making-of features that are on the disc.