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.

What’s the world coming to?

Man, Uncle Bardie must be getting past his prime. Hate to complain but first Rand McNally, you know the Atlas people, they changed an easily identifiable Siam to Thailand and Rhodesia to Zimbabwe. But they didn’t stop there. Suddenly Ceylon was Sri Lanka Dutch Guiana was Suriname. Then Burma became Myamar, Nanking was Nanjing and Peking was Beijing. Pretty soon there will be no more Peking Duck. It will be Beijing Duck. Kind of takes the romance out of the dish, don’t you think? Talk about taking the romance out of a name. Now Ireland’s King’s County is County Offaly. Hope that isn’t pronounced awfully.

And those are the easily pronounceable ones. In the olden days, it was so much easier to lump all those countries into one big Soviet Union than to have to call them by their real names, names like Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and all the other stanleys. Makes me wonder where Oliver Hardy is these days. Some of those stanleys are three miles long. And what about Canton becoming Guangzhou, Sian now Xi’an and just plain Bolivia changing to the Plurinational State of Bolivia. It’s enough to make a map dizzy.

Next thing you know they’ll be changing Bombay to Mumbai. Oh, they did that. Thank God, they didn’t change Constantinople to Istanbul. Wouldn’t that be something.

Used to, we dealt with leaders who had sensible names like Stalin, Gandhi, Churchill, DeGaule, Wilson, Meir, Nehru, Castro, U Thant. We even figured out how to pronounce Adenauer and Pompidou. What a haircut. Oh, that was a pompadour. Kinda like matador, only with hair. Everybody ignored Mussolini cause they knew the man with the more easily pronounceable Hitler was in charge.

And the fellow in Canada, Trudeau, ran things so long we finally got his name down right. It helped that he had a great looking wife. Even Maotse tung was Chairman Mao. Nobody ever said his buddy’s name, you know Chou Enlai. The last sensible name in recent memory was a President of Mexico named Fox. Who can even remember the new guy down there now?

Sometime in the seventies, leaders started cropping up that required a translator to get the name straight. Names like Gaddafi. We ignored Osama bin Loden for a long time just because Peter Jennings, Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather couldn’t figure out how to pronounce his name. Nobody was sure how his name went. It took 9/11 to get the newscaster to say his name.

Now look what we have to deal with François Hollande, a guy named after a country; Kim Jong-un, just one of a long line of Jongs; that guy in Iraq, Nouri al-Maliki and Israel’s Netanyahu. Now that is some name. At least, the new sheriff in Pakistan Nawaz Sharif isn’t the previous guy, Mir Hazar Khan Khoso. And I do like the name of the new guy from Iran, Hassan Rouhani. Easier to pronounce than the previous guy’s name, Mahmoud Abba-dabba-who. Then there was that Russian president who replaced a perfectly good name like Putin. Well, the new guy’s gone now anyway. Only a prime minister and he’s not really of any consequence anyhow. What’s his name? Oh, yeah. Medvedev, and only God knows the name of those fellows in Georgia and Ukraine. The country, not the state. At least the guy from Japan has a good old fashioned American name, Abe. Isn’t that nice?

I mean, just what is the world coming to?

By the way, have you noticed that every time the anchor of NBC News, Brian Williams, leaves the country there is a disaster like a earthquake or a war? He should be banned from travelling, sealed into an NBC studio in Washington, DC and not let out.

New State Nicknames

Been thinking the States all need new nicknames. The old ones have become a bit worn out. So here’s a list I am proposing:

Alabama, the “between Mississippi and Georgia” state.

Alaska, the “I can see Russia from my house” state.

Arizona, the “wanna see our sinkhole…it’s a biggun” state.

Arkansas, the “Bill Clinton, need I say more” state.

California, the “who’s afraid of the big bad earthquake, ahnold” state.

Colorado, the “our pot is better than your pot” state.

Connecticut, the “who can spell me” state.

Delaware, the “we’re bigger than Rhode Island” state.

Florida, the “we don’t know the difference between a dimple and a chad” state

Georgia, the “we have real pits in our peaches” state.

Hawaii, the “we’ve got Don Ho and surfing, what have you got” state.

Idaho, the “can you take some of these potatoes off our hands” state

Illinois, the “not all of our politicians are crooks…after all we did give you lincoln” state

Indiana, the “you spell it backwards and you’ve got anaidnI” state.

Iowa, the “we start the whole mess every four years, would you please forgive us” state.

Kansas, the “when you’re in Kansas, you know you’re in Kansas” state

Kentucky, the “wanna race” state.

Louisiana, the “oh, no, not another hurricane” state.

Maine, the “stephen king scares us too” state.

Maryland, the “we’re in the Navy” state.

Massachusetts, the “home of the Boston cream pie, don’t you wish you had a pie as good” state.

Michigan, the “can somebody, anybody please take detroit off our hands” state.

Minnesota, the”oh geez bet it’s gonna be cold tomorrow” state

Mississippi, the “we’re right next to Alabama” state.

Missouri, the “we can show you the way to Kansas” state

Montana: the “we warned Custer and he just wouldn’t listen” state.

Nebraska, the “Warren Buffet lives in our state” state.

Nevada, the “get married and divorced in 24 hours” state.

New Hampshire, the “can’t get more Yankee than us” state.

New Jersey, the “we’re really not that bad, we just play it that way on TV” state.

New Mexico, the “hey, come see our balloons” state.

New York: the “youse guys” state

North Carolina, the “we got nice mountains” state.

North Dakota, the “wish I was South Dakota” state.

Ohio, the “we’re named after a river, what are you named after” state.

Oklahoma, the “I’m just passing through” state.

Oregon, the “we’re just below Washington and famous for nothing” state.

Pennsylvania, . the “nobody steals our stealers and we have the authentic cheese steak” state.

Rhode Island, the “yes we’re here.. just look really hard” state.

South Carolina, the “if you wanna be a Republican president, you better win our state” state.

South Dakota, the “I wish I was North Dakota” state.

Tennessee, the “state where al gore invented the internet and discovered global warming” state

Texas, the “when the hell are we gonna get through this state” state or the “wanna start a war, just elect one of our guys president” state.

Utah, the “we have more wives than we can handle” state.

Vermont, the “state where two hippies could make ice cream and name it after other hippies” state.

Virginia, the “if it was good enough for Pocahontas, it’s good enough for me” state.

Washington, the “rain and more rain” state.

West Virginia, the “we’re the only state that’s got west in its name, Kanye” state.

Wisconsin, the “our cheese really is cheese” state.

Wyoming, the “cow tipping” state.

A Yodelling Fool

I’ve thought that I’d like to traipse off to Liechtenstein and learn how to yodel when I retire. Sounds kind of impractical, doesn’t it?

But then it worked for Slim Whitman whose yodel can be heard in Tim Burton’s “Mars Attacks”. It’s what destroys the aliens. So I guess there is a use for yodeling after all. Not that I would ever have that opportunity. I’m a real chicken when it comes to invasions.

Besides I hear Liechtenstein is a very nice place. Run by a prince. At one time it was a part of the Roman province of Raetia. But now it’s a principality. Seems like it would be a good place to retire to. Not out to go to war or anything like that. Because it’s so small it has to go the extra mile and get along with its neighbors. It’s the big ones you have to watch out for these days. Like China, Russia and the United States. The bigger the country the bigger the army. Unless you’re Canada.

A very civilized country, Canada. Lovely people, the Canucks. Didn’t get mad at all at the movie “South Park” and the song in the movie “Blame Canada”. One of the great exports from Canada, The Mackenzie Brothers. Love their “Twelve days of Christmas”. They had a really fun movie “Strange Brew”. Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell and Gordon Lightfoot all from Canada. So is Alex Trebeck. Also Peter Jennings who is a was and not an is now that he is dead and gone to the anchorman’s chair in the sky.

But all that’s another story. Back to Liechtenstein. The prince’s family goes all the way back to the twelfth century. To have lasted that long and ruled a country you must have something going for you. Think the country is where Leonard Wibberly based his novel “The Mouse That Roared”. As usual, Peter Sellars was very good in the movie, invaded the United States and all.

Liechtenstein it seems used to be called Vaduz and Schellenberg. Till the family bought them from the Holy Roman Emperor. Seems he was in need of some cash as emperors  usually are. Once they had some land, the family could be taken seriously. These days the country has a low corporate tax so it is overrun by successful businesses and it should be easy to get a job if I need some extra retirement cash. ‘Course a yodeling gig might just be the thing for a retired Uncle Bardie.