Tag Archives: France

Happy birthday Paris!

An engaged but mismatched couple (played by Rachel McAdams and Owen Wilson) stroll a street in Paris soon after arriving there with her parents

Paris celebrated its 2,000th birthday on July 8, 1951 — making Friday birthday number 2,060 for the city Woody Allen first fell in love with during filming of “What’s New Pusssycat?” Allen was screenwriter and actor for the 1965 film.

He’s written and directed a new film titled “Midnight in Paris,” an opening night selection for this year’s Cannes Film Festival that was released May 20 in L.A. and New York. It’s playing now in movie theaters throughout the Valley.

Owen Wilson is one of many stellar actors in the latest film written and directed by Woody Allen

I saw the film this week at Harkins Camelview 5 Theatre in Scottsdale. I’ve never been a Woody Allen fan, but wanted to see the film described as his “valentine to the City of Light.” Seems Allen considers Paris “equal to New York as the great city of the world.”

On that we agree. I traveled many times to Paris as a college senior studying in Germany, and loved every minute spent at eclectic sidewalk cafes and majestic art museums.

I’m eager to read David McCullough’s latest work, “The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris.” Author Stacy Schiff, who reviewed the work for The New York Times, says it “explores the intellectual legacy that France settled on its 19th-century visitors” — long before the era when “freedom fries” replaced French fries on some American menus.

Reading Madeline books in a fun way to enjoy imaginary trips to Paris with your children

My children were first introduced to Paris via the books of Ludwig Bemelmans, author and illustrator of several “Madeline” titles, which follow the adventures of 12 French school girls. Bemelmans was born in 1898 in the Austrian Triol, but came to America in 1914. He lived in New York until his death in 1963. The “Madeline” movie released in 1998 could have been titled “Mischief in Paris.”

“Midnight in Paris” stars Kathy Bates, Adrien Brody, Carla Bruni (first lady of France), Marion Cotillard, Rachel McAdams, Michael Sheen  and Owen Wilson.

It’s a romantic comedy tackling “the illusion people have that a life different from theirs would be much better.”

As a Denver native and Arizona transplant who sometimes longs to live in New York or San Francisco, I need reminding more than most that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. There’s just more of it.

The film opens as a young couple arrives in Paris. The woman has marriage and moving to Malibu on her mind. The man, a successful Hollywood screenwriter, is working on a novel and dreams of living in Paris — where he loves to walk in the rain.

Midnight in Paris considers whether the grass really is greener on the other side

For several nights, the writer strolls alone to a special spot where he’s transported at the stroke of midnight to 1920s Paris, encountering all sorts of writers and artists, including Gertrude Stein, Salvador Dali, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway.

Period music, much of it by Cole Porter, plays throughout most of the film — which also features plenty of famous sites, from the Eiffel Tower to Moulin Rouge. It’s a movie best appreciated by those who love the literary — though artists, history buffs and philosophical souls will also “get it” more than most.

Now I have a real dilemma on my hands. New York or Paris?

— Lynn

Coming up: Tips for introducing children to opera, Valley arts organizations find new homes, Musings on “The Tree of Life,” Ode to hairspray

Update: Click here to learn about the PBS American Masters presentation of “Woody Allen: A Documentary” written and directed by Robert Weide. 11/21/11


The many adventures of “Curious George”

“Curious George” with his 2010 Daytime Emmy Award (Photo: PBS)

When publisher and editor Karen Barr learned that PBS KIDS was readying to open the fifth anniversary season of “Curious George,” the 2010 Daytime Emmy winner for outstanding children’s animated program, she asked whether it was something I might like to cover.

I was intrigued, remembering that I’d seen quite a few “Curious George” items last time I strolled through a museum gift shop in Washington, D.C.

Uncertain of where I’d seen them, I jumped online to do a bit of exploring.

Why, I wondered, would stories for children be the stuff of museums?

I discovered that a “Curious George” exhibit at The Jewish Museum in Manhattan recently closed–but still has info online. Turns out there’s a powerful back story to the tale of this adventuresome young monkey.

Lizabeth’s tattered but cherished “Curious George” book

Curious George” left Paris in 1940 as a mere manuscript in the hands of creators Margret and H.A. Rey, both German Jews seeking to avoid Nazi-occupation.

In 1941, the first “Curious George” book was published in the United States by Houghton Mifflin. Lizabeth pulled a later edition off one of her bookshelves when I mentioned I’d be writing about the monkey and his creators.

Knowing the real-life travels of “Curious George,” it’s no surprise that the upcoming season for the televison series will feature “exciting new adventures that encourage preschoolers to explore and engage with the world around them.”

Lizabeth’s prized “Curious George” monkey

“Curious George” will make new friends, including a character named “Marco” who introduces him to “unique elements of Hispanic culture like food, music and celebration.”

The series will “introduce viewers to different cultures and social activities” while continuing its “underlying misson to foster understanding of science, math and engineering.”

To learn more about the recent “Curious George” exhibit, visit The Jewish Museum online–where you’ll also find supporting materials from a 2005 exhibit titled “Wild Things: The Art of Maurice Sendak.”

Another Trimble storytime favorite

The museum notes that Sendak was “born in Brooklyn in 1928 to Eastern European Jewish immigrants” and “grew up in the shadow of the Holocaust, during which many members of his family were lost.”

The Rosenbach Museum and Library in Philadelphia features a Maurice Sendak Collection of more than 10,000 objects–which is well worth a visit in person or online.

“Curious George” poster encourages reading

As Americans continue to wrestle with issues of immigration and identity, perhaps these authors and illustrators can help us better understand our past–and forge promising paths to a future we’ll all share.


Note: Thanks to my daughter Jennifer for sharing an article on “Curious George” appearing in a public service announcement about literacy

Coming up: The peril and promise of blogging–as RAK’s “Stage Mom” celebrates 300 consecutive daily posts

Update: I’m now blogging as “Stage Mom Musings” at www.stagemommusings.com. Please find and follow me there to continue receiving posts about arts and culture in Arizona and beyond. Thanks for your patience as the tech fairies work to move all 1,250+ posts to the new site. For the latest news follow me on Twitter @stagemommusings. 6/13/12