...a movie based on the true story of Antonina and Jan Żabiński, keepers of the Warsaw Zoo during the German invasion in 1939 who, after their animals were slaughtered and their zoo occupied by the Nazis for the purpose of animal research, devised a plan, brilliant in its simplicity, for smuggling Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto,
...into the hidden cages and tunnels beneath the Zoo,
....where the zookeeper and his wife hid these refugees while they concocted for them fake identities, passports and modes transport - also sometimes absurdly brilliantly concocted - to safe places.
...this movie will tear greatly at your heart. Or at least it did mine. And Tom's.
After the movie, after we'd dried ours eyes, we found much to talk about. We wondered, in amazed admiration, how it is that ordinary people such as the Zookeeper,
...and his wife,
...turn into extraordinary people who find the strength and courage to commit acts of civil disobedience against a harsh regime and risk their lives and the lives of their own children to save others.
This story also exemplifies that special danger, that terrible fear of a particular kind of violence, that can only be understood by women,
...and, even more unfortunately, girls.
But most of all "The Zookeeper's Wife" left us pondering the depths of meanness and cruelty, or indifference to meanness and cruelty, to which not only soldiers,
...but great numbers of a whole population can sink, especially when such behavior is given the blessing of a nation's leader.
Woe to the people of any country who believe, "It can't happen here."
The Panera Posse, my girl-group that meets as surely as the sun comes up every Wednesday morning of the year, seldom fails to cover a superabundance of topics during the two or three hours we convene at Panera each week.
...to the local,
...to the global,
...the pace of the conversation sometimes moves so quickly that one can scarcely trace the trajectory of how we took off from one point and landed, many words later, on totally unrelated ground.
Thus I can't quite remember how it transpired last week that we arrived at the subject of crochet.
Oh, I suppose that we could have, for example,
...which could, I guess, have led us to the subject of growing national dissatisfaction with this so-called President, which could have led to the the state of the Resistance,
...in support of which a couple of us Posse members have made kitty hats.
I myself have made half-a-dozen or so in the past few months,
...with one more on back-order; all of which, I expect, could have gotten us onto the subject of crochet.
But no, wait, wait...that wasn't at all how we got to talking about crochet; now I remember:
And so we decided last week that this week's Posse meeting would be dedicated to learning how crochet the above hat.
Three Posse members showed up at Panera yesterday - it's a rare Wednesday when all nine of the permanent members can make it, but no matter, whenever two or more of us are gathered at one of the round or square tables the Posse meeting's a go,
...crochet hooks to share,
...and our friend's instructions.
As two of the three of us were veteran crocheters - all right, I'm more of a crochet addict who's fallen off the wagon (see post from 2/7/2017).
After having gone years without touching a strand of yarn, I've now turned back to the hook,
But anyway, the two of us who already knew how to crochet taught the third in our group,
...a very good knitter who'd never tried her hand at crochet but who'd been wanting to learn.
And so we sat together for a couple of hours engrossed in our work,
...our conversation wandering never too far from either the next step in the instructions or the art of the double-crochet stitch.
It was a nice escape from the world for a few hours.
In these troubled times I suppose I'd recommend crochet to everyone. if it weren't so addictive.
This past Saturday Tom and I hopped into the car and headed north from Columbus,
,,,to the town of of Olmsted Falls, where Tom dropped me off at the Falls Pointe Clubhouse,
...for the bridal shower of Rachel, fiancée of my nephew Jason.
Mary Jane, mother of the groom, right, with Audrey, sister of the groom, and Carolyn, grandmother of the bride.
The Falls Pointe Clubhouse was a beautiful, elegant venue,
...charmingly done up to the nines by Rachel's mom, sister, aunts,
...who made and hung the paper flowers that appeared to float above the room.
The first order of events was lunch, a lovely buffet,
...of delicious, beautifully-presented dishes,
There were also tables of yummy pastries made by some of the ladies of Rachel's and Jason's families.
...lemonade and cucumber water.
...and some in the over-flow room.
...enjoyed by all.
Then Rachel opened her gifts,
Then we chatted and visited,
...at which time some of the guys showed up,
...and Mike, father of the bride.
...which they did.
Lovely a day as it was. The best is, of course, yet to come,
(With thanks to collaborators Maria, Claire, Tommy and Theresa, and apologies to Lin-Manuel Miranda)
Cast of Characters:
ACT I: HEALTH CARE, or: WINNING'S EASY, GOVERNING'S HARDER
RYAN: I am not throwing away my shot, hey yo!
OBAMA: History has its eyes on you,
CONGRESS (To RYAN): You don't have the votes, you don't have the votes,
You're gonna need congressional approval
And you don't have the votes!
OBAMA: See, that's what happens when you up against the ruffians
You in the sh*t now, someone gotta shovel it!
RYAN (To TRUMP, pleading): When you got skin in the game, you stay in the game!
You gotta wait for it, wait for it, wait for it, wait for it!
RYAN (To CONGRESS): Retreat!
OBAMA: History has its eeeeeeyes on youuuuuu,
HILLARY: Oceans rise, empires fall,
Next to Obama they all look small
And when your people say they hate you, don't come crawling back to me,
La da da da daaaa,
La da da da dieee da da da da da,
FULL COMPANY: La da da da daaaa,
La da da da dieee da da da da
Da da da dieee da daaaaa,.
OBAMA AND HILLARY: Everyone was in the room where it didn't happen,
The room where it didn't happen,
The room where it didn't happen,
Click, boom then it didn't happen!
TRUMP: Such a blunder, sometimes it makes me wonder why I even bring the thunder!
CONGRESS: Why he even brings the thunder!
FULL COMPANY (To TRUMP): Welcome to the present, we're runnin' a real nation
Would you like to join us, or stay mellow,
Doin' whatever the h*ll it is you do in Mar-a-Lago?
TRUMP: I'm sorry, folks, I've gotta go. (Waves good-bye as he boards Air Force One surrounded by a legion of Secret Service Agents to leave for a weekend of golf at Mar-a lago)
(Enter VLADIMIR PUTIN)
FULL COMPANY: It must be nice, it must be nice, to have Putin on your side,
It must be nice, it must be nice, to have Putin on your side.
I would like to say something to all those conservative Christians who are boycotting the film because they believe it promotes the Gay Agenda:
You guys are 100% spot-on about this movie. Really.
Because if, along with being a call for human rights and equality, the Gay Agenda also entails equal LGBTQ representation in film, "Beauty and the Beast" definitely represents.
So, all you Christians who don't want to see the film because you've heard there's a gay character? Don't see it, I tell you. Seriously, don't. And tell all your like-minded friends not to see it, either. Because there is a gay character in the movie. In fact I counted three gays and one transgender.
Now, one of the gays - in the notorious 2-second "dance scene" - and the transgender had only a passing moment on screen.
...then I'm Mike Pence.*
But why has this village girl no interest, not even a weence, in this handsome soldier, with whom she shares a good amount of on-screen chemistry?
After all, the live Gaston, while no paragon of chivalry or virtue, is nowhere near the reprehensible bad guy that the animated Gaston was. (At least in the first part of the film where the attempted wooing takes place).
And, while he in truth only wants Belle as a trophy wife, a necessity for any man living in the 18th Century French countryside where, prior to 1791 when homosexuality was decriminalized, the fate of a man discovered to be a "sodomite" could be quite terrible, this Gaston, unlike the original Gaston, does show some concern for Belle's welfare. And he is a spectacularly buff and good looking guy.
So why, then, will Belle not give Gaston the time of day?
Well, obviously, because she can tell he's gay. As could I. As could anybody.
Look, never mind the brief, over-bally-hooed dance scene. What about the scene in which Gaston admires himself in a mirror, followed by a suggestive quip from Le Fou? What about the scene in which Le Fou and Gaston not-quite-accidentally end up wrapped around each other and Le Fou asks "Too much?"
What about the fact that Gaston, a soldier just home from the battlefield, not only has no interest in even checking out any of the foxy village ladies dressed in their fanciest frocks who are throwing themselves at him, but arranges for his horse to splatter a group of them with mud then shoots the poor mud-covered lasses a look of scornful derision? Does that sound like the move of a guy who likes women? Or of a guy who's trying to send the ladies a not-subtle message to bug off?
As far as the trans character goes, be on the look-out for a moment in the battle-for-the-castle scene.
In any case, you won't miss it, believe me. Unless you boycott the film. Which you really should do if you're a homophobe.
But for everybody else, sure, I'd recommend seeing "Beauty and the Beast," even though I must admit that I would have enjoyed the movie much more if I hadn't already seen the original animated version, which I couldn't get out of my head as I watched the live version.
...the animated version is just so charming in a way that the realism of a live version couldn't match.
But in this live version of "Beauty and the Beast" Disney does offer a true slice of realism in its promotion of the Gay Agenda, and for that matter, the Racial Diversity Agenda as well.
And so for this reason I think this "Beauty and the Beast" is an even better film than the original.
I only hope in its next live remake of an old animated movie Disney will include some lesbian characters, too.
*The most notoriously anti-LGBTQ governor in the United States until he became Donald Trump's
...still I'd like to send that country a couple dozen more along with a nice note,
...that reads, thank you, thank you, thank you for not electing as your Prime Minister Geert Wilders, .also know as "The Dutch Donald Trump,"
...not only for similarities in their carefully styled and colorized hairdos,
...but for the ability of each to grab and dominate the public stage and for their shared credo of extreme right-wing nationalism, isolationism, racism, Islamophobia, and hate-mongering.
A few months before the Dutch general election, which took place last Wednesday, Wilders was far in the lead ahead of the other candidates for Prime Minister. People were taken by his outspokenness, his disdain for political correctness, and his promise to shake up the Dutch political system. Some latched onto his promise to reinstate the dominance of the Christian cultural heritage in The Netherlands and his emphasis on "family values." Others shared his belief that The Netherlands should not only ban all Muslim immigration but that the country should rid itself of Muslims altogether. Still others liked the idea of change that Wilders represented. And some were just angry.
When Donald Trump won the American election Geert Wilders benefited from a surge in popularity in the Dutch polls. Shortly after Trump's inauguration Wilders enjoyed another bump and appeared to be on his way to a landslide win.
But then in the weeks that followed, as the world watched the comedy of errors that the government of the United States was thrown into, and continues to be thrown into, under Donald Trump's terrible policies and choices, his dangerously impulsive, irresponsible, behavior, and his overall ineptitude, the majority of Dutch citizens decided they really didn't want a Donald Trump of their own after all.
Maybe The Netherlands should be sending us roses and a thank-you note.
"God doesn’t play favorites and he loves immigrants, giving them food and clothing. That means you must also love immigrants because you were immigrants in Egypt," says the Torah.
"Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door," says the inscription on the Statue of Liberty.
"I will build a great, great wall on our southern border and I will make Mexico pay for that wall, mark my words," says Donald Trump.
A few weeks ago there was an op-ed piece in the New York Times by Indian author Sandip Roy. Twenty years ago Roy came to the United States to study engineering, lived here, thrived here. He savored what he called "the possibility of reinvention" for a person living in this country, which is, to Sandip Roy and many millions across the globe, what they think of as The American Dream.
Or what they used to think of as The American Dream.
According to a New York Times op-ed piece by Mr. Roy, Indians no longer dream of coming to America. They see it as too dangerous. Too violent. And, since the ascendance of Donald Trump and his supporters, too unwelcoming to and suspicious of immigrants such as himself.
"Five years ago when I moved back to India," writes Roy, "nobody understood why I would do such a thing. These days they nod understandingly." He continues, "Growing up in India we didn't question the brain-drain of our best and brightest (and even our second-and third-bests) to America. It was the natural order of things. President Trump's new vision for America is forcing us to reconsider that assumption."
Subsequently the desire to even visit America is on the wane among Indians.
And not only among Indians. Since Trump's election there's been a great drop in the number of foreign tourists expected to visit the United States this year. Fred Dixon, chief executive of the travel agency NYC & Company, told the New York Times that, "Mr. Trump's statements and actions had changed the perceptions about the hospitality of of the United States just as prospective tourists are making vacation plans for 2017...the rhetoric out of Washington (is) really having an impact on travel." According to Adam Sacks, president of Tourism Economics, who also spoke to the Times, "The annual number of foreign visitors to the United States could fall by 6.3 million between 2016 and 2018 because of reactions to Mr. Trump's words and actions, such as pledges to pull out of international trade agreements." Mr. Sacks also noted that "Online searches for airline tickets and hotels began dropping after the election. They dipped again after Mr. Trump's election and fell further after he signed an executive order on the travel ban."
Mr. Sacks added that it's going to be "a very challenging year" for those Americans who make their living in the U.S. travel industry.
Does this information make you feel sad for our country?
(Sigh). Me too.
But it's not only brilliant minds and tourists who are losing their ardor for coming to The United States. Even the number of illegal border crossings from Mexico has dropped since Donald Trump was elected.
This graph was published last week in the New York Times:
...including that foul nematode Republican Congressman Steve "We Can't Restore Our Civilization With Somebody Else's Babies" King,
...must be feeling pretty exultant and self-congratulatory at this recent data.
Apparently threats and hateful attitudes can keep people out of our country just as well as a wall.
The new Republican healthcare plan has already picked up the nickname Trumpcare, but really, how much work did Trump even do on it? None, right? In fact, while his minions were huffing and puffing and sweating and pulling a weekend all-nighter trying to get the thing dashed together, with House Speaker Paul Ryan whipping them onward,
Thus, as I believe in giving credit where credit is due (and not because the word "Trumpcare" sticks in my throat, although it does), I believe we should call the G.O.P's proposed health insurance plan not Trumpcare but Republicare.*
At this point in his party's quest to jettison Obamacare - under which, by the way, over 20 million Americans have gained health insurance coverage - Republicare architect Paul Ryan seems pretty happy with yesterday's report by The Congressional Budget Office that under his plan 14 million people will lose their health insurance by next year. He considers this great drop in coverage good news because, as he said in an interview on Fox News yesterday, from now on "the government's not going to force people to buy something they don't want to buy." Ryan added that the report "actually exceeded my expectations." He never dreamed there'd be that many people who'd end up with freedom from health insurance. Break out the champagne!
But that 14 million is only the number of people who'll lose their health care coverage next year. Over time the news gets better: within 10 years that number will be up to 24 million Americans without health insurance! How happy does that make you, Congressman Ryan ?
Of course, factored into that 24 million are the many millions of people who will lose their coverage due to all the employers and companies who will drop health care coverage for their employees because, hey, under Republicare there will be no more employer mandate to provide employee health insurance. Yippee!
Says Paul Ryan about Republicare: "Our plan is about not forcing people to buy expensive, one-size-fits-all coverage. It's about giving people more choices and better access to a plan they want and can afford."
The key words here being can afford. Congressman Ryan adds: "When people have more choices the cost goes down."
Except that's not exactly what the Congressional Budget Office said. What the CBO actually said is that under the Republican plan premiums will increase by 15 to 20 percent.
Oh happy day for all the people who will now have the option - nay, the necessity - to replace their decent Obamacare with some cheap, crummy Republicare plan because that's what they now can afford.
But what about all the people who would like to choose to buy health insurance but won't be able to afford it at all under Republicare? People with families who are barely struggling above the poverty line? The working poor? A 64-year-old making $26,000 who pays a $1,700 premium under Obamacare whose premium would go up to $14,000 under Republicare? Or a 28-year-old who was laid off from her good-paying, health-care-covered job and is now making $20,000 as a barista and under Republicare will receive only $2,000 towards health insurance? Or a single mother making $47,000 with a child who has cerebral palsy and who will no longer be eligible for medicaid?
Who among those people, what person anywhere would not choose good health insurance for themselves and their children?
Or is it as Republican Congressman Roger Marshall, himself a bible-quoting doctor, said a few few days ago when he described the poor as “a group of people that just don’t want health care and aren’t going to take care of themselves.”
Could it be that Roger Marshall's attitude is in fact the driving philosophy behind Republicare?
Mayhaps, considering that Republicare will give a terrific tax break to the wealthy, who will also have the opportunity to save more money tax-free with a health savings account.
But here's the upside: Republicare will also cut $337 billion dollars from the national deficit over ten years. Doesn't that make you happy? That 10 years from now our nation will have an extra $337 billion to put towards the mind-boggling, gargantuan, over-the-moon $603 billion defense budget proposed by Donald Trump?
Who'll even need health care when we'll have all those nuclear warheads to make us feel good?
*I didn't think up the name "Republicare;" it was coined last week by a letter-writer to The New York Times.
...Continued from yesterday:
...I also started what has become my (new) tradition of taking my recital assistants out for an après-recital supper at Hunan House, a gem of a Chinese restaurant a few blocks east of Graves on
E Dublin-Granville Road.
And so after our recital last Thursday night, my helper-in-chief hubby Tom,
...my friend and fellow pianista, Marianne, who makes the programs and seating tags for the students,
...Marianne's hubby Nick, our videographer,
...headed over to Hunan House, where I never cease to be charmed by the interior,
...not to mention the yummy food, which, we all agreed, was really good.
...the Green Pepper Steak,
...and I had the Pad Thai with shrimp, hands down the most delicious Pad Thai I've ever had.
After dinner I couldn't resist wandering around the restaurant and snapping a few shots of the objets d'art found here and there,
...a piece, as was explained to me on a previous visit, designed to give warning of an earthquake when the tremors caused the hinged mouth of the dragons to fall open and drop balls into the mouths of the frogs.
When I explained to the friendly staff member of whom I'd asked permission to take the pictures that I wanted to use them in my blog she said with a smile, "Tell everybody 'Welcome to Hunan House!' "
So, everybody: "Welcome to Hunan House!"
The night before last, Thursday, March 9, my piano students performed their Spring Recital, the first of their twice-yearly performances,
...and more practicing,
And today I'm still floating on that post-recital cloud of relief mixed with elation and gratitude that all our performances went well - in fact, exceptionally well this time- thanks in no small part to one fine, friendly piano.
Now, it can perhaps be argued that pianists don't have to deal with some of the performance issues that other instrumentalists face.
...or wearing accommodating clothing, as do cellists.
We don't have to schlepp our instruments around, pull them out of their case, assemble them tune them, prep them, or hold onto them while we wait our turn to perform.
We don't face the challenge of endeavoring to land on an exact spot with a correctly-held bow, which will produce a terrible sound if it lands 1/32" off target,
...not to mention keys to deal with on the keyboard, a miniature orchestra under our hands of which we are the conductor and our fingers all the instruments.
But probably the greatest performance challenge pianists face is that we don't perform on the instrument we've been practicing on. We always have to play on a recital-venue instrument that's strange to us, one that is likely to have a different feel, different response, a tighter key and/or pedal action than what we're used to. Having to play on who-knows-what kind of a piano can be a source of performance anxiety in and of itself.
Over the course of the 20 years I've been teaching I've held piano recitals in homes, school auditoriums, and church halls, with a range in quality of performance spaces and instruments.
But our current recital venue, which my students and I have been using for the past year, Graves Recital Hall, is we all agree, the best venue ever.
...or the practice room, where everyone can warm up before their performance, this time, happily, with the availability of earphones (see post from 9/25/2016, "The Beat That My Heart Skipped"), though even if the earphones had been once again MIA we would have been all right as this time I instructed everyone to bring their own practice earphones.
But what really makes this venue is the piano, a beautiful 9-foot Wm, Knabe & Co. concert grand that is so easy to play, so responsive, so friendly to the fingers, and has a beautiful sound as well.
by Patti Liszkay
Buy it on Amazon:
by Patti Liszkay
Buy it on Amazon:
"Equal And Opposite Reactions"
by Patti Liszkay
Buy it on Amazon:
The Book Loft
of German Village,
Or check it out at the Columbus Metropolitan Library
I am a traveler just visiting this planet and reporting various and sundry observations,
hopefully of interest to my fellow travelers.