Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Movie: Italy in the Spring

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. This week’s Spotlight Movie is “Enchanted April” (1992):

Remember “Gilligan’s Island”. “Enchanted April” (1992) is not a three-hour tour. It is not a shipwreck. It is not “Gilligan’s Island”. It isn’t even “Survivor”. It could pass for “Under the Tuscan Sun”. Like that movie, it is a leisurely stroll through an Italian landscape that only be described as paradise.

How did four English women find themselves in Italy? A small ad in the newspaper. The newspaper was the 1920s version of the internet. For a small price, a person could see the world laid out before them.

Adapted from Elizabeth von Armin’s novel, the movie begins with two married women, Lottie Wilkins (Josie Lawrence) and Rose Arbuthnot (Miranda Richardson). They are stuck in England with some really lousy Spring weather. They see an advertisement offer to stay in medieval castle for the month of April. Not only do they get a castle, they get Italy on the Mediterranean.

When they see the ad, they say, “What fun.” At least, Lottie does. After some persistence, Rose is persuaded. Each has their own reason to get away from her husband for a month. Alfred Molina (of “Frida” fame) and Jim Broadbent (from “Topsy Turvy”) are the husbands Lottie and Rose leave behind.

Since it’s a bit expensive, the two of them ask two more to come along. Mrs. Fisher (Joan Plowright) is an older woman with her nose stuck in the air. Then she breaths in the Italian air and she is changed along with her three companions. Lady Caroline Dester (Polly Walker) is an attractive young aristocrat who is searching for direction.

Unfortunately, the Italian weather isn’t cooperating when Lottie and Rose arrive. But the next morning everything has changed. April is April and Italy is Italy. “Were you ever so happy?” Lottie asks Rose. Then the two come across Mrs. Fisher who speaks an “an ancient Italian, the Italian of Dante” and Lady Caroline who speaks “the kind of Italian the cooks understand”. I would say that this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. But you’ll have to find out for yourself.

And what happens when the men show up.

If you are partial to “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, this one is for you.

Charlie’s Hobby

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone.

June loved Charlie, and June knew Charlie loved her. But June believed Charlie loved the beach more. Early every Sunday morning for the last ten years or so, he picked up his paints, his easel and his canvas and took off for the beach. Five days a week he traded stocks with a large brokerage. Saturday he spent with June and the boys. Sunday was his.

After doing that for almost a year, June became suspicious of her husband. His disappearance on Sunday bothered her. From time to time, she thought Charlie might be having an affair.

June hired a detective. The detective watched Charlie from sun up to sundown and more. For a month he did this.

“Nothing,” he told June. “Your Charlie is one the best husbands I’ve ever seen. He loves you as much as George loved Gracie and Rickie loved Lucy” So June went back to trusting.

For five more years, Charlie did his Sundays. The completed canvases were backing up in the garage. There were over a thousand.

Then one Sunday morning, June woke up late and there was Charlie beside her. Usually by the time she woke, he was gone. She woke him up and asked, “Are you sick?”

“No,” Charlie answered.

June worried about this all week long. She figured it was a one-time thing, so she let it alone. But he stayed at home the next Sunday, and the Sunday after that. All those years of Charlie going to the beach. She had gotten used to it. It had become such a routine. And now it was over.

This went on for two months and it was driving June crazy. Not the concern about Charlie and the beach kind of crazy. The kind of crazy from worry that something bad was getting ready to happen. That kind of crazy.

Everything was the same as it had been for years. Charlie went off to his job every Monday through Friday. Sunday nights and Wednesday nights he took out the garbage. Thursdays were poker night. Fridays were their date night, then sex afterward. All day Saturday, Charlie was helping out at the house or going with June to do this or that or the other. Nothing had changed. Except Sundays.

Finally June suggested Charlie go to see a therapist. Her friend, Ellen, suggested a Dr. Reid. Ellen knew everything about therapists. There wasn’t a mental illness she had not had over the years. Some woman on tv had depression, Ellen had depression. Some man had schizophrenia, Ellen had schizophrenia. Then she’d go to Dr. Reid, and he’d perform a miracle. They’d cure her. It was her hobby.

Charlie, being an agreeable man, acquiesced to the suggestion. If therapy would make his wife happy, he would go to therapy. She made an appointment for him the next Wednesday. It would give him a break from the tedium of his job. Besides a little therapy couldn’t hurt.

He walked into Dr. Reid’s office. The therapist pointed to the couch. “So why are you here, Charlie?” Dr. Reid asked.

Charlie explained that he came at June’s urging. Then he went on to tell the therapist about her concerns.

“So why did you make the change? Stop going to the beach and painting? Why didn’t you change to another location?”

“Doc,” Charlie called the therapist Doc, “I love my wife. She is the only woman I’ve ever loved. I am a routine kind of guy. I like my routines. After a year of marriage, I noticed June getting antsy. Bored, you know. She needed some variety in her life. And I am not Mr. Variety. After giving it some thought, I came up with a solution. I would give her something to worry about. So I went off to the beach. The painting gave me something to do.”

“So why did you quit going to the beach?”

“Same reason. To keep my wife interested. For years, she had this hobby. Why does Charlie go to the beach and paint? Now she has a new hobby. Why did Charlie quit going to the beach? Just about the time she starts getting real bored with this hobby, I’ll have a new one. Let’s just say it brings some sparkle to our marriage.”

The Mail Order Bride

The farm. Well, it’s not a farm really. It’s where we live. My five children and I. My wife died a year ago when she was having Eleazar. We buried her over by the well house behind that small smattering of trees. Esther was twenty-four. We had been married ten years. I thought about leaving and moving to town, but this here farm is our livelihood and our life.

This farm which I inherited from Papa. Papa’s brother, my Uncle Elisha, said that I needed a new bride—a wife for me and a mother for the children, a woman to keep my loins warm.

I found this here Mail Order Bride Catalog at the General Store, looked through it, found myself a good woman—someone who looked like she could hold up through the winter—and I sent for her.

Tomorrow she arrives on the train from St. Louis. Me and the children and Uncle Elisha will hitch up the buggy and go into town and meet the noon train. That will give us enough time to get home before dark.

The Preacher will come and marry us next month. Me and my new wife and the kids and the neighbors will have ourselves a picnic to celebrate.

Next month is planting. She said in one of her letters she was raised on a farm. She knows all about farms. She is sixteen and seems plenty eager for a husband and children.

Before we leave for town, I visit Ruth’s grave as I do every Sunday. I thank her for the life she gave me in this here wilderness and tell her I miss her and tell her that she will never be replaced in my affections by another. She will always be my first love. I tell her of this new woman, how it was Uncle Elisha’s idea, how she will be my bride and the children’s other mother. I tell her that the children need a mother and hope she understands.

Then we hitch up the horse to the buggy and head on in to town.

The View

Manny and Hazel are a couple who have been married for 35 years. They are touring Europe for the first time. They are in Berlin and standing at the top in the dome of a government building. Hazel loves the view.

Manny, this is some view.

It ought to be. They spent a fortune on it.

C’mon, Manny, don’t be a spoil sport.

Who? Me? A spoil sport? I’m just pointing out the facts.

Why don’t you just enjoy the view?

We liberate these people from the Nazis. Spend a fortune. It’s cost us I don’t know how many lives. And they don’t pay us back.

Now, Manny, these Germans are nice people.

Under all those nice clothes we’re seeing are people that still owe us money.

Geez. Sometimes, Manny, I don’t know why I do it.

Do what?

Drag you along on these excursions. You’re nothing but a sourpuss. You know that?

Yes, Mrs. Sunshine. You never ever rain on my parade.

When do I rain on your parade? Tell me?

When I go play golf.

You know golf is such a stupid game. Now bridge, that’s a game.

Is not. It don’t take no skills to sit on your butt and play cards. Any doofus could do it.

You try it and see if it takes no skill. You’ll see.

I am not going to play bridge. I don’t care what you say. Oh, look. I can see where the Wall used to be. I bet I can see Russia from here too.

See. I told you it was a nice view.

Manny smiles and takes his wife’s hand.

Male Psychology

This here post is addressed to my female readership. Since I am a male myself, I am an expert in male psychology. I have advanced degrees to prove it. When I say, advanced degrees I don’t mean ph.ds. And I am not talking senility either though there are those who would state otherwise. I mean I do get, “I don’t know how your mind works.” Modern science has no answer to that one. I’ve been studied by the best. To state the obvious, I am a long time card carrying member of the male persuasion. So I think that qualifies me as an expert.

If I were writing a rule book on the male persuasion, there would be some items on the list I’d like to cover.

1.Males like to fix things. The bathroom sink. The car parked in the driveway. We may not be good at it but we will always give it the old college try. We especially love to fix our lady love’s problems. The moment our beloved says she is having some challenges with work, we’ve already stopped listening. We’re taking a mental looksee at “The Art of War” to see which strategy fits the situation.

2.When it comes to sports, there isn’t a sport males don’t love. ESPN puts a tiddly-winks championship game on and we’re there in front of the tv, rooting. You ought to know how true this is by the number of us who watch golf.

3.Males will do anything to help our team win. Wear dirty undies for six months. Stand on our head. Anything.

4.Males believe we were given an internal gps when we were born. It may not be true but there is no way we males will be dissuaded from this believe. This obsession with direction  is written into our dna.

5.If your male pet says “Huh”, it is not because he isn’t listening. It’s that he is listening a little too much. We need an interpreter for female-speak. So we are praying desperately to the great god Huh to interpret for us or unconfuse us.

6.When you ask your male, “What are you thinking” and he responds, “Nothing,” believe him. He isn’t thinking about something someone said this morning. He Isn’t thinking about the thing you just said. He isn’t even thinking about Donald Trump. He is not thinking anything. Once upon a time there were questions about this comeback. Then the NIH and the CDC saw this as a challenge. To find out the truth. They got together and funded a study conducted by over a hundred academic institutions. It was such a massive study thousands of men were experimented upon. The experimentalogists  poked and cajoled and massaged, they isolated and scanned and questioned. Finally they had their answer. There was nothing there inside the male brain to make any investigator believe the male was thinking anything but nothing most of the time.

7.Modern science, after years and years of speculation, has discerned that the male brain is not evolving. Rather, it is devolving.

8.Never, ever try to persuade a man that he doesn’t know what he is talking about. Of course, he doesn’t know. And he knows that he doesn’t know. But he will never admit it. It is a point of pride.

I hope this has clarified questions some of you have been asking for years. Memorize these seven rules on male behavior and live by them and your relationship with your male pet will run smooth.

“Eight rules,” you say. “Not seven.” Now there you go, correcting a male. Don’t you know we males don’t take correcting very well? While I wait for you to apologize, I do believe I will go into my corner and do some pouting.