Rose is off on her Sunday morning run (4.2 miles) so it is left for Moppit and me to walk the cobblestones streets of San Miguel. At 7 a.m. we feel like the only two creatures in the city.
Good time to catch up on podcasts.
The NYT Daily “A Bit of Relief: Reruns and Rituals”— NYT TV critic and California Food Writer talks about how they are filling their time during the self-isolation. Spoiler alert: Watching a lot of TV.
Also from the Daily: “Sunday Read: Letters or Recommendation” — readings of several of the popular Recommendation columns from the NYT Sunday Magazine.
“This American Life” Went back to episodes from March 15 (“Low Hum of Menace”) and March 22 (“Alone Together.”) Interesting to hear the staff trying to get a grip on this still new epidemic and self-isolation. Powerful stories.
Came home to fresh coffee, hot pancakes and “CBS Sunday Morning” — they have grown at ease with isolation interviews, working from home.
As always, I seek out Heather Cox Richardson’s “Letter from an American” (on Obama’s stirring commencement addresses) and Garrison Keillor’s “Letter from Manhattan” (on books in progress, isolation, and waning ambitions). Richardson and Keillor are like my daily pen-pals, so different yet each feeds something good into my soul every morning.
GOOD READ: Still working through “The New Yorker” — today, the magazine’s film critic Anthony Lane in “Because the Night” waxes eloquently, poetically, nostalgically (and a touch verbosely) on the allure of riding over-night trains across Europe, England and points east.
GREAT MOVIE: Because Lane mentions “The Lady Vanishes,” a 1938 Alfred Hitchcock mystery-thriller that takes place aboard a train headed from Eastern Europe to Paris, I had to watch it.
A sweet old lady (Dame May Whitty) mysteriously disappears from the train. A spoiled socialite (Margaret Lockwood) and a dashing musicologist (Michael Redgrave) team up to find her. Lots of pre-war intrigue and nobody is who they seem to be — and yes, most the action takes place aboard a rolling train. This train was Hitchcock’s ticket to Hollywood.
BINGE WATCHING: TV series “One Step Beyond” (1960 debut) In this anthology-type program, host John Newland presents a story steeped in the supernatural — a dead man rescues stranded explorers, a pregnant woman foresees a plane crash, people enter a house only to disappear, a man meets the woman of his dreams on a tropical island and becomes obsessed when she vanishes.
“One Step Beyond” beat “Twilight Zone” to TV by nine months but only their structure was similar. Rod Taylor’s stories were steeped in fiction and fantasy. Newland’s stories were allegedly based on stories people claimed to be true. As on “Twilight Zone,” this series was a training ground for future stars including Joan Fontaine, Warren Beatty, Robert Blake, Louise Fletcher, William Shatner, and Elizabeth Montgomery.
DINNER & A MOVIE: Rose roasted a stuffed chicken and potatoes and veggies to go with the romance-comedy “Big Night” (1996). Stanley Tucci (with a full head of sleek black hair) and Tony Shalhoub are immigrant Italian brothers hanging onto their Jersey shore restaurant by a thread. Shalhoub (Primo) is an iconoclastic chef who refuses to give their patrons the dishes they crave. Tucci (Secondo) struggles to hold it all together. They pin their future on a promise that bandleader/entertainer Louis Prima would stop by to dine at their bistro.
Every stop is pulled out to put the most amazing feast on the table — and that feast is the real heart of the movie. Much of it is slow-going, but once the food leaves the kitchen all bets are off. Others in the cast include Marc Anthony, Minnie Driver, Isabella Rossellini, Liev Schreiber, Allison Janney, and Ian Holm.