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Debutante: The Story of Brenda Frazier
Debutante: The Story of Brenda Frazier
by Gioia Diliberto
Edition: Hardcover
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5.0 out of 5 stars Much Ado About Nothing, October 1, 2015
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I first learned about Brenda Frazier from the article she did for the 1963 issue of "Life" magazine (which had covered her debut in 1938) that covered President Kennedy's funeral, titled "My Debut: A Horror", of which fragments are featured throughout Gioia Diliberto's 1987 biography.
One must note the irony of such an article appearing in a magazine depicting the sudden widowhood of the woman named 1947's "Debutante of the Year", Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, another petite brunette who cherished her privacy as much as Brenda Frazier did.
Born in 1921, to a wealthy but dysfunctional family with roots in Britain, New York, and Canada, Brenda Diana Duff Frazier would soon find herself as the most talked about debutante of the 20th century through no fault of her own, and through no real wish of her own.
The 1963 article omits details of the sordidness and immorality of the upper class that is detailed in this book.
In its five five sections, "Child", "Debutante" "Symbol", "Wife" and "Shadow", the life of the petite, dark-eyed brunette is partitioned into a cautionary tale about the evils of a poor, valueless and loveless upbringing, and an excessive lifestyle.
We see how young Brenda is both neglected and later manipulated by her iron-willed and amoral maternal grandmother, Jane Williams-Taylor, and her still childlike mother, Big Brenda, who was considered and ugly duckling and tried to live vicariously through the celebrated 1938 debut of her then 17- year-old daughter who would later acknowledge being ill and physically uneasy on the night in question, December 27, 1938, in the ballroom of the Ritz Hotel. She had endured the bitter divorce of her parents by this time, and was the subject of a bitter custody battle. She never felt that either parent had wanted her except as a prize to hurt the other parent. There were emotional and psychological manipulations of the young girl, known as "Brenda" in her mother's house, and "Diana" in her father's. She did feel some genuine affection from her alcoholic father, however. But he passed away some years before her debut. Seeking affection from her foreign-born caretakers provided unhappy scenarios as well.
The book goes into detail about cafe society, the charity committees that irritated Brenda, who felt disgusted that people who had at least $1 million could spend a lengthy amount of time discussing a charity ball that with any luck would only raise $1,500.
Stork Club founder Sherman Billingsley is noted for his exclusive establishment where the debutante with the snow white complexion held court, as well of the celebrities of the day who wished to be photographed with her.
But there is a very telling moment when at one event, the host revealed the notables in the audience, including comedian Ben Blue, and Olympic gold medal winning figure skater Sonja Henie, credited with many innovations in her sport, and then Brenda's name was announced.
"When I stood up, there were as many boos as there were cheers." she reflected.
She secretly agreed with her critics because she knew that compared to other celebrities, she hadn't really accomplished anything. Why did she deserve applause for the accident of being born into a wealthy family, especially in the middle of the Great Depression? She knew her fame was a fluke.
She did advertisements for various products, including automobiles although she couldn't drive and was chaufferred everywhere. But the attention compensated for many feelings of not really being loved that she had had while growing up.
Despite her unhappiness in not really being able to establish her own identity, she married the rather ill-bred John"Shipwreck " Kelly, producing a daughter named Brenda Victoria before the marriage ended.
She, like many of her friends descended into alcoholism, drug abuse, promiscuity, and suicide attempts as well as a second marriage to Robert Chatfield-Taylor, which, to no one's surprise, also ended in divorce.
Brenda also suffered from eating disorders at a time when such disorders were not widely discussed or dealt with via medical treatment as they would be today.
Despite such claims her mother being a very democratic woman, willing to accept people of all backgrounds who had earned the right to be liked, and also Brenda's claim of being a more attentive mother than her own, the book reveals a different story on both accounts.We also learn the real reason why Victoria did not continue the tradition of having a debut.
For all the sanitized "Life " magazine article's inaccuracies, it may well be the most relevant thing this woman ever gave the world, along with her public lectures renouncing the life she lived before cancer led to her untimely end at age 60 in 1982.
75 years ago, the public may have been tired of hearing about Brenda Frazier, but now many would wonder who she was or why she was even famous if her name were mentioned today.
This may give the current crop of those who are famous just for being famous a little food for thought.

Night at the Museum
Night at the Museum
Price: $9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Adventures in Relic-Sitting, September 16, 2015
Shawn Levy directed this delightful 2006 comedy/fantasy based on the book by Milan Trenc.
Ben Stiller is comically charismatic as Larry Daley, a divorced Brooklynite who has been through several jobs, lived and been evicted from more than one apartment in the process of trying to many his many inventions/business ventures lucrative, but falling short.
His ex-wife, Erica (Kim Raver) notes the toll that Larry's instability is taking on their son, Nick(Jake Cherry).
Larry is a caring parent and an overzealous supporter of his son at his hockey games.But he sees his son growing closer to the new man in his mother's life, Don (Paul Rudd), a bond trader with a steadier life situation.Don is a more likely candidate for Nick's presentation on his school's pending Career Day.
Via a little help from an employment office worker named Debbie( Stiller's real-life mother, the late great Anne Meara), he is offered a position at New York's American Museum of Natural History where he is initiated into his new post as the night watchman by veteran night watchman, Cecil Fredericks ( Dick Van Dyke), and his colleagues, Reginald(Bill Cobbs), and the grouchy, ill-bred, Gus(the late and incomparable Mickey Rooney).
A curiously spry Cecil gives Larry a tour of his new nocturnal domain, and this new job, which will enable Larry to keep his apartment and spend more time with Nick seems simple enough.
But soon, the exhibits in the museum come to life as the massive skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus Rex pursues Larry, who must hide from him as he destroys the reception desk and other property. Larry calls Cecil, who is at a retirement party, for advice and is told to read the night watchman's manual.
He encounters the Easter Island Moai (Brad Garrett), who warns him that Attila the Hun( Patrick Gallager) is chasing him. He barely manages to make it into an elevator to the tranquil sound of Barry Manilow's "Mandy". Larry also encounters fighting and faceless Civil War mannequins, and attacks from the miniatures in the diorama of the Mayan exhibit, is tied up and held hostage and rammed by a miniature train under the auspices of a cowboy named Jedediah( Owen Wilson), who has a rivalry with the General in the Ancient Roman exhibit named Octavius (Steve Coogan). He encounters hostile wildlife, including lions, tigers, a python, and a Capuchin monkey named Dexter(Crystal the Monkey) who steals his keys. Instead of having a tranquil job, he appears to be running an indoor zoo.
Initially, Larry's only ally is Theodore Roosevelt( the late Robin Williams with an eerie resemblance to his character), who agrees to help him keep order for one night only, but will subsequently leave the maintenance of order strictly to him afterwards. It is Teddy Roosevelt, in whose honor the museum was founded, who explains to him that it is an ancient Egyptian tablet, on display in the Egyptology department that is responsible for the animation of the exhibits. Noteworthy is Teddy Roosevelt's admiration of young Sacajawea( Mizuo Peck, bearing a strong resemblance to Williams' then-wife, Marsha Garces) from afar.
Larry contemplates leaving his hazardous new job more than once. But a chance encounter with his son and the boy's prospective new stepdad makes him rethink it on one occasion, and the loss of one piece of the exhibit makes him rethink it on another occasion.
The attempt by the three retiring guards to steal the tablet and frame Larry for it creates a pivotal moment in the story. Young Nick, who had recently seen the museum director, Dr. McPhee( Ricky Gervais) fire his dad before Larry successfully fought to keep his job, accompanies his father at work on that critical night when the fate of the exhibits hangs in the balance.
Larry opens the Egyptian sarcophagus to get help from the Pharaoh Akmenrah (Rami Malek), quells the chaos in the museum by getting everyone to stop fighting and commanding a now- placated Attila (whose hostility he assuaged by following Cecil's advice to study the history of each historical figure on display), Columbus( Pierfrancesco Favin), the Civil War combatants, et. al to rally together for the common goal of retrieving the tablet. The tracking skills of Sacajawea will be employed in this effort as well.
In addition to that of his son, Larry will also earn the respect of museum docent Rebecca Hutman(Carla Gugino) who has been struggling to write a biography on Sacajawea.
It appears that a certain bond trader may have some competition as a candidate for attending Nick's school on Career Day after all. Watch for an entertaining moment of a wiry-legged Dick Van Dyke dancing!
All in all, this is a lively and fun piece which can easily whet the desire for knowledge of historical subjects. A good time may be had by all!

India Tree Candied Violet Petals, 0.5 Ounce
India Tree Candied Violet Petals, 0.5 Ounce
Price: $6.85
2 used & new from $6.85

5.0 out of 5 stars A Novel and Exotic Item..., September 7, 2015
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When preparing a dish of dual-colored white chocolate bark for Mother's Day, I used these on the lavender side. While many were thinner than I expected and some were broken, they served their purpose quite well, and provided just the right amount of purple for that side of the delicacy.

India Tree Candied Rose Petals 0.5 Oz
India Tree Candied Rose Petals 0.5 Oz
Offered by ToysNGamesEtc
Price: $8.49
3 used & new from $8.49

5.0 out of 5 stars A Splendid Little Item!, August 15, 2015
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Along with candied violets, I used these in making colored white chocolate bark for Mother's Day. They came in just the right amount , and were enhanced with a sprinkle or two of the rose water I used on the delicacy. The treat was highly enjoyed, and I recommend these for anyone who only requires a small amount of them for a recipe.

DVD ~ Robert De Niro
Price: $4.99
31 used & new from $4.71

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Temporary Miracle, August 11, 2015
This review is from: Awakenings (DVD)
This is the third consecutive year in which I've typed a review for Amazon on August 11th.
But on the first anniversary of the death of Robin Williams, here in a charming understated performance as neurologist, Dr. Malcolm Sayer, administering a drug Williams himself would be prescribed in real life--in a Bronx psychiatric clinic in the summer of 1969, I felt compelled to inscribe my thoughts about his portrayal of a doctor( based on the real-life and sadly now terminally ill Oliver Sacks) with the genuine warmth and kindness for which this late childhood/early adolescent favorite of mine was renowned.
I had only a limited viewing of this 1990 feature until the month after his passing.When it was first released, I contemplated that it was nice to see Williams and Robert De Niro doing something more constructive than what they had been up to during a fateful encounter with John Belushi in 1982.
Guiding this constructive effort is Director, Penny Marshall, under whose auspices we first see De Niro's character, Leonard Lowe as a young boy (Anthony L. Nici) carving his name in a bench while out with friends one minute, and the next minute, after a teacher discovers tapering lines on his school papers where sentences should be, confined to his room, a victim of an encephalitis outbreak.
By the time Dr. Sayer first arrives at the Bainbridge clinic, Leonard has been a patient there for 30 years, frequently visited by his mother(Ruth Nelson) who tends to him, dressing and undressing him, and combing his hair.
The shy amiable Dr. Sayer does not leave a very favorable first impression on his new colleagues when demonstrating that a catatonic patient named Lucy (Alice Drummond) has a reflex when a ball is thrown to her. But the nurse Eleanor Costello(Julie Kavner) is supportive of him.
We view the quietly contemplative doctor's off-duty routine, including his impressive skill on a baby grand piano in his house. I have wondered what tune he was playing.
With the camera focusing on his very gentle looking eyes, he awakens from a nap with a breakthrough in regards to the care of his patients, initially sharing his findings with the janitor(,Tiger Haynes, who previously appeared with Williams in "Moscow on the Hudson") during a late-night research session before sharing them with his colleagues and earning their respect.Even Nurse Costello will buttress Sayer's findings in due time.
There is a moment of intense profundity when Sayer, sitting in an arbotorioum before a caged panther, reads German poet Rainier Maria Rilke's poem, "The Panther" as he contemplates freeing his patients from the physiological cage they have been in for decades.
At one point, Sayer consults Dr. Peter Ingham(Max Von Sydow, who later appeared with Williams in "What Dreams May Come") before pleading for the use of the drug, L-Dopa on the 15 patients left in a catatonic state by encephalitis or Parkinsons' Disease. These patients include Lucy, Rose( Judith Malina, who died this past April), Miriam( Anne Meara, who appeared with Williams in "Night at the Museum" and who died this past May)Bert(Barton Heyman), Franck(George Martin), Lolly(Laura Eastman), Frances( Jayne Haynes), Magda(LeChance du Rand), Rolando (Dexter Gordon) and a few others.
But the drug is most successful on Leonard, whose mother sees him as a healthy, normal person for the first time in over 30 years. Dr. Sayer frequently consults with her about her son's history.
Doctors Sullivan(John Christopher Jones), and Tyler(Bradley Whitford), and nurses Margaret (Mary Alice) and Beth( Mary Catherine Wright) preside over this miraculous awakening. Some of the newly vitalized patients, especially Miriam display an outright joie de vivre that challenges the caretakers to keep up with them, but all are stunned and some embittered at having lost so many decades of their lives.
They go on a few group outings, and Leonard, who develops a friendship with Dr. Sayer, is allowed on supervised trips with Dr. Sayer as a chaperone. He is amazed at how his world has changed, but takes some pleasure in seeing how some things like the park bench on which he carved his name as a child have remained.
In this brief interval of normalcy, Leonard strikes up a relationship with a young woman named Paula( Penelope Ann Miller) who visits her father, incapacitated by a stroke, and whose stylishness adds much brightness and color to the drab hospital environment.
The orderly, Anthony(Keith Diamond) helps Dr. Sayer refine his treatment of the patients by recommending that instead of playing his own preferred classical arias to stimulate them, and temporarily relieve the catatonia before the drug was administered, that he find music suitable to each individual patient, and that when on outings, the newly awakened patients visit entertainment venues of their own choosing.As many patients recall the Jazz Age of the 1920s best, jazz and swing music are very popular with the group.
Leonard petitions the staff to release him from the clinic, but is refused. His rebellion will be a brief one before he relapses, setting off a kind of domino effect among all of the L-Dopa recipients.
Richard Libertini, who appeared with Williams in "Popeye" plays Sidney, a hospital visitor, and Jan Saint, whose real life tragic end in response to terminal illness parallels Williams' own, plays a patient accidentally hit by a ball in a game testing patients' reflexes.
In a real-life scenario, reminiscent of the story, "Flowers for Algeron", the brief shining moment comes to an unfortunate but hopeful end.
As he reflects on this learning experience, Sayer begins a promising relationship of his own.
In the 25 years since "Awakenings" release, the tragedy of the star's life frames it in a different perspective from the one a viewer may initially have had of it, especially given the vast likelihood of Williams himself being a patient in such a facility given his ailments had he not taken such a drastic course of action a year ago today.
But out of the shadows cast by tragic events, over time viewers may again learn to enjoy a piece that is still gently brimming with hope.

DVD ~ Robin Williams
Price: $4.99
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5.0 out of 5 stars For Sentimental Reasons..., July 21, 2015
This review is from: Popeye (DVD)
In honor of what would have been Robin Williams' 64th birthday, I render this review of the only film of his that I ever saw in a theater.
The date was New Year's Day, 1981, when after several weeks of prodding, my Mom took my sisters and me to see it.Mom noted how after my initial participation in small talk,once Jack Mercer kicked things off with the titular character's voice in the animated prologue, I fell silent and gave the images on screen my undivided attention for most of the next hour-and-a-half.
In this campy live-action rendering of the Fleischer comic strip, we initially view our hero clad in a raincoat, rowing ashore in a dinghy during a rainstorm.His destination is the run-down seaside hamlet of Sweethaven, which, as one of my sisters observed, looked as though it could all collapse if someone sneezed.
In view as he docks are a few townspeople, including Cindy the Drudge(Williams' then-wife, Valerie Velardi, a dance teacher who choreographed the film's dance routines).
But almost immediately, the Taxman( Donald Moffat) appears to collect funds from the newcomer, and Popeye manages to oblige him. I took note of 'discovery of his old pipe on the ground, and felt dismayed by his unsanitary habit of putting it in his mouth.
He becomes a boarder of the Oyl Family, including Patriarch Cole( McIntyre Dixon), his wife, Nana( Roberta Maxwell), son, Castor(Donovan Scott), and daughter, Olive(accurately portrayed by Shelly Duvall), who is hustling about in preparation for her engagement party.
Popeye later sits in a bar and relates his desire to find his long-lost father as toughs laugh at him, led by Rough House( Allan Nicholas), leading to a brawl, involving detractors and innocent alike, which Popeye wins.
He dines with his hosts, but is tacitly turned away from Olive's engagement party.
The Stinettes--Mina, Mona, Mena, and Blossom(Patty Katz, Diane Shaffer, Julie Janney, and Natalie Blossom), complete the sewing of Olive's trousseau as for some mysterious reason, Olive packs her bag and slips out through her bedroom window.
She meets Popeye outside as he is wandering around town.He wonders why she has fled her engagement party --a motive which will come to light when Bluto's( Paul L. Smith) violent streak is revealed as he smashes both guests and furniture.
As Olive and Popeye talk, Olive's basket is mysteriously switched and a baby whose mother is unable to take care of him is revealed to be inside.Via a note, the mother designates Popeye as the child's guardian, and when the two head back to Olive's house with the child in tow, the stood-up Bluto literally sees red, and trounces this new rival for Olive's affections, making it ironic that Popeye could significantly take on a gang of detractors a day earlier.
As Bluto works for the mysterious Commodore, the Oyl Family's taxes are hiked up in retaliation for Olive's having spurned Bluto, and as they are unable to pay, they face eviction.Castor offers to fight the boxing champion, Oxblood Oxheart( Peter Bray) to win prize money to save their home.. But as his proud mother(Linda Hunt, in what was also her first movie) watches, Oxheart crushes his opponent far too easily--A situation redeemed when Popeye replaces Castor in the ring.
The new couple settle down and put Swea' Pea( Director Robert Altman's grandson, Wesley Ivan Hurt) to bed, and Olive reveals the infant's gift of clairvoyancy. They sing a gentle song expressing their desired maternal and paternal relationships with the infant--a corny but heartwarming scene that reveals the genuine love of children shared by both the future"Faerie Tale Theatre" creator and collaborator.
Uncle Wimpy( Paul Dooley) finagles the infant away from Popeye to use him to predict the outcome of electronic horseraces. An angry Popeye snatches him away from the decadent scene although the money-hungry Oyls join Wimpy in betting.
Back out on the street, Popeye has another confrontation with the Taxman, and becomes the town hero when he punches him and sends him into the water.
Crunched in the cheering crowd, Popeye loses sight of his charge, who is kidnapped and taken to the Commodore's mysterious dwelling.
There are a few syrupy moments that showcase both the appropriateness of casting Duvall as Olive, and Robin's genuine warmth and sweetness on issues pertaining to children.
The drama climaxes when Popeye meets Poopdeck Pappy(Ray Walston), whose physical appearance, mumbling, and meandering, are quite similar to our hero's, and there is a final triumphant confrontation on Scab Island.
Other characters include Bill Irwin's (who cavorted with Williams and Bobby McFerrin in the video for "Don't Worry. Be Happy!" a few years later) Ham Gravy, Richard Libertini's Geezil, Dennis Franz' Spike, and a few other Fleischer favorites.
Especially in the wake of a childhood favorite's passing, I recount fond memories of how goofy and endearing Robin was in his first starring big-screen appearance, although I debated with myself about whether the athletic star did his own back flips.
With memories of how this film delighted me as an eleven-year-old, I hope that the image of the perfect live-action Popeye will delight children for many generations yet!

Tudor Roses
Tudor Roses
by Alice Starmore
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $26.95
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Marvelous Showcase for Intricate Designs, July 13, 2015
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This review is from: Tudor Roses (Hardcover)
I first discovered this book ( first edition) via a "Patternworks" knitting supplies catalog several years ago.While I have yet to really purl my first skein of yarn, I've considered the challenge of recreating Alice Starmore's elaborate designs honoring the Tudor Dynasty would be my ultimate objective.
I appreciate that there are differences between the 1998 edition and its 2013 counterpart( The originals may be viewed on the knitting site, But the narrative for each character, and the sweater dedicated to them is an intriguing presentation. The Margaret Tudor and Anne of Cleves sweaters have a casual modernity to them. Whereas the original Anne Boleyn sweater was a rather appropriate V-neck( given that she was beheaded), we now see a high-collared, verdant, vertical-striped creation serving as a background for bright autumn colors. The Anne of Cleves sweater was originally done in goldenrod, but it now shown in a solemn silvery grey.The Catherine Parr sweater has remained the same-a two-colored, richly textured piece.
The Henry VII and Henry VIII sweaters are excluded altogether. But we do enjoy a view of a new Elizabeth of York sweater vest, with more colors and a richer design than the original, a mere ( but complexly knitted) shawl for the future Mary I, the simplistic design for the button down honoring Elizabeth Woodville, the dour piece created to honor Margaret of Beaufort( portrayed by Starmore's daughter and collaborator, Jade) , the businesslike elegance of the sweater dedicated to Katherine of Aragon, a slightly darker version of the knit created to honor Mary Tudor(Henry VIII's sister), the bright, and elaborate concoction honoring Jane Seymour(which differs from its original), the now darkly elaborate work of the Katherine Howard design, the monochromatic elegance of the Elizabeth I sweater, and finally, the green buttoned-down scoop-neck, trimmed with blue honoring Elizabeth's rival, Mary, Queen of Scots.It has occurred to me that both of the decapitated queens whose children inherited the throne have green sweaters in their honor....Interesting...
This is a fascinating dramatically presented table book, in which a great knitting doyenne, and her daughter Jade use their gift to honor one of the most memorable dynasties in history. --A highly recommended read for any ambitious knitter!

My Boy Jack (2007)
My Boy Jack (2007)
DVD ~ David Haig
Offered by Mediaflix
Price: $8.78
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5.0 out of 5 stars Not This Tide, Nor Any Tide..., June 28, 2015
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This review is from: My Boy Jack (2007) (DVD)
On the 101st anniversary of the incident that sparked Mankind's second deadliest conflict, I present my editorial homage to this onscreen gem about the impact of World War I on the family of a British literary giant of the time--Rudyard Kipling, admirably portrayed by David Haig, who adapted his stage play of the same name for television.
Kim Cattrall, of "Sex in the City" fame plays Kipling's American-born wife, Caroline. A pretty, sparkling-eyed Carey Mulligan portrays one of the couple's two surviving children(a daughter named Josie died of illness at age 6) Elsie, known as "Bird", and their son, the titular Jack is portrayed with grace and dignity by Daniel Radcliffe without a trace of Harry Potter to be found.
When Britain declares war on Germany in 1914, Kipling helps stem the tide of patriotism, insisting that all eligible young men who do not enlist be shunned.
The very nearsighted Jack struggles to live up to his father's patriotic ideals and is initially rejected by the British Navy, his desired branch of service. But to the dismay of his mother and sister, Kipling finagles his son into the position of Second Lieutenant in the Irish Guards. The young Kipling, 18-years old( Radcliffe's own age at the time of filming) proves to be an exemplary officer during the brief interval between basic training and his unit's being shipped to France where we observe him caring for his men in the trenches.
In the meantime, the Senior Kipling returns to his life of lectures and entertaining local children with his now-classic stories.
Things come to a head at the fateful battle of Loos.
When his parents learn young Jack is missing , Kipling uses the same influence he employed to get his son into the service to learn his fate, and the heartbreak of the family is palpable.We are reminded of how a poem of fatherly anguish and pride, gave this piece its title.
Julian Waldham plays King George V, Martin McCann plays Bowe, Richard Dormer plays Corporal John O'Leary, Ruraidhri Conroy plays McHugh, Lawrence Kinlan plays Doyle, Ciaran Nolan, plays Daly, Nick Dunning plays Colonel Ferguson, and Michael McElhutton, Leo Amery, MP.
Filmed in authentic locales, including Kipling's actual home, under Brian Kirk's direction of this reverent piece, reenacting the saga of a youth being reduced from a person to a poem,we are reminded of how the world will indeed be better when old men cease dreaming of wars in which young men die.

Mrs. Doubtfire (Behind-the-Seams Edition)
Mrs. Doubtfire (Behind-the-Seams Edition)
DVD ~ Robin Williams
Offered by Clyde Parks
Price: $13.46
59 used & new from $1.79

5.0 out of 5 stars Papa's Got a Brand New Bag!, June 21, 2015
As I embark on my first review of Robin Williams' work since his untimely passing, just in time for the first Father's Day his children will spend without him, I contemplate how much of himself he brought to his role as Daniel Hillard.
Daniel Hillard is a voice actor with an unstable employment history. After we are introduced to Daniel as he is dismissed from a job voicing cartoon characters, we view him in the scenario that fuels the story--the loving relationship he has with his three children--the often subtly petulant Lydia( Lisa Jakub), his soccer-loving son, Chris( Matthew Lawrence), and the wide-eyed, slightly lisping, storybook-loving five-year-old, Natalie(Mara Wilson), despite his many shortcomings.
On Chris' 12th birthday, his wife, Miranda( Sally Field), an interior designer, is called away from her San Francisco office by her neighbor, Gloria( Polly Holliday), to deal with the party, which especially with the presence of certain petting zoo animals in violation of city ordinances, has really gotten out of hand. I would have to agree with a recent reviewer's criticisms of Daniel's reckless and sometimes ill-bred character.
After finding Daniel, the big kid she married in the center of the chaos, an angry Miranda pulls the plug not only on the party, but after what is presumably the last in a long line of many heated arguments, also on the couple's 14-year marriage as the children watch from the staircase.
Soon, under the watchful eyes of Miranda's mother(Jessica Myerson), Daniel leaves the family home on Steiner Street, reassuring his children, and being a bit snide towards his ex-mother-in-law-to-be.
After spending some time with his make-up artist brother, Jack( Harvey Fierstein) and his partner, Jack(Scott Caparro), Daniel takes up residence in a run-down apartment over a store, and spends a marginalized amount of time with the children, barely masking his despondency over the break-up of his marriage by thinly veiled remarks about his ex- that upset and bewilder his 5-year-old as she and her siblings dine with him. But he uses a little humor to placate her.
When Miranda's honking car horn is heard outside and the kids get up to leave, Daniel's hostility becomes full-blown as he demands they stay put and finish their Chinese take-out, reminding him amid the use of an expletive that they're his children, too.
Miranda has an angry confrontation with Daniel, and Natalie's repetition of her father's choice phrase does not encourage Miranda to give him more time with the children.
He learns she is placing an ad for a housekeeper to tend to the children when they come home from school, and fudges the details of the ad submission form when she is not looking.
Once the ad appears in the paper, Daniel disguises his voice while making anonymous phone calls in response to the ad, horrifying Miranda before creating the persona that she will want to meet, selecting the name, "Mrs. Doubtfire" from a randomly viewed phrase in a newspaper headline.
Daniel heads to Frank and Jack's place before his scheduled Monday meeting, and as the two labor to make him look like a woman who can pass for a suitable nanny , we are led through Williams' trademark comic schtick as we view him as a long-nailed Latina, a Jewish Bubbie, and Barbra Striesand (complete with the blue eyes enabling him to pull off an impressive imitation of his real-life friend) before Frank adds some latex, a grey wig with a winged section and a bun, a body suit, stockings, glasses, and a sweet, preppie ensemble before Luck proves to be a lady.
The following Monday evening, Miranda and her reluctant young trio are introduced to a sweet 60-year-old woman with a slight Scottish brogue, who immediately touches on the interests of the younger two, but will have to work hard to break the ice with Lydia.
Amid many an ironic quip, Daniel must be careful not to give himself away, keeping a few interesting secrets in a closely held camel-flague bag of considerable size. But Miranda is so impressed and delighted that she unwittingly hires her ex-husband.
Daddy's home!
As Daniel takes on household responsibilities, slowly and finally becoming the husband and father he might have been during the previous 14 years, Miranda's old boyfriend, Stu( Pierce Brosnan) re-enters her life, initially as a client, much to her delight.
In the meantime, Daniel's female alter-ego endures a flirtation from a kindly bus driver( Sydney Walker), and the scrutiny of his court
liason,Mrs. Sellner(Anne Haney). In a riotous scene of immense physical comedy and one-liners, he manages to avoid blowing his cover in Mrs. Sellner's presence, although his latex face mask is destroyed and he will have to replace it. Two laughing young brothers(Kenneth and Jeff Loo) watching from their apartment window observe the hilarity.
In daylight hours as himself, Daniel takes a job as a shipping clerk at a local TV station, but always manages to become Mrs. Doubtfire in time to be with his children, who become more disciplined .
Eventually Chris and Lydia stumble upon the secret, and after the startling discovery, are sworn to secrecy, happy to know their Dad is with them.
But Miranda's new relationship with the man she regrets not having married progresses. At one point while having tea at the kitchen table with Miranda, Daniel learns some hard truths about himself and the reasons why his marriage failed.
By this time, his envy of his estranged wife's new beau has surfaced, reaching a high point when he joins the family at Stu's country club where they cavort in the pool with the athletic suitor. However, Daniel is not above flirting with a bikini clad blonde stunner(Betsy Monroe) as he sits at the poolside bar. A remark Stu makes about his sweetheart's ex sends him over the edge for a moment , but as the sweet elderly Mrs. Doubtfire, Daniel easily staves off Stu from finding out who threw produce at his head from behind. Williams' real-life half-brother Todd, presides over the scene as the bartender.
As Daniel's double life continues, he improves his situation at the TV studio, attracting the attention of the executive and station owner, Mr. Lundy( Robert Prosky) while doing an improv bit with dinosaur figurines on the vacant set of a soon-to-be-cancelled children's show.
Daniel's ability to continue the ruse reaches a crisis point when both Miranda and Mr. Lundy want both him and Mrs. Doubtfire to dine with them at Bridges Restaurant on the same evening at the same time. He will now have to placate Mr. Lundy while finding a way to sabotage the rival for his estranged wife's affections.
Ultimately, the mask is stripped away, and despite emotional and poignant pleas of fatherly love in court, it appears Daniel is likely to have only supervised weekend visits with his children unless Miranda can be moved by the wittiness that once attracted her to her ex-husband to find humor in the situation.
Under Chris Columbus' direction, the all-too-frequent social misfortune of the break-up of a family, based on Anne Fine's book, "Alias Madame Doubtfire", is given comical treatment, and the children affected are given gentle reassurance by a very special elderly lady.

Martha Stewart Crafts Deep Edge Punch, Scroll Heart
Martha Stewart Crafts Deep Edge Punch, Scroll Heart
Price: $11.99
29 used & new from $11.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Elegantly Opulent!, May 8, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
My scroll heart edge punch arrived today. It's a bit bigger than the doily lace punch I received last week, and its design is very elegant indeed.
I have wondered though, if future edge punches might feature flippable guards that can catch the bits of confetti that fall during the punching process. But one can easily make do by clamping the paper over a waste paper basket. Still these enable users to create beautiful artistic work with minimal effort.

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