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  • mistermuse 12:06 am on March 15, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Germany, , King of Hearts, Middlemarch, , , Philippe de Broca, , That Man From Rio, , Zarah Leander   


    It’s March 15th, and with it come two ides-of-March birthdays I’d like to note — but first, a note about the post’s title, which came to me from an 1874 novel I had heard of, but never read: MIDDLEMARCH, by George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans). It turns out that MIDDLEMARCH has nothing to do with the middle of March; it’s the name of a town in the Midlands of England (the novel’s setting). But let’s forget that I told you that. What’s the harm in letting it seem as if I made an educated choice for the title of this post?

    In any case, what this is leading up to is a selection of George Eliot quotes, which I daresay you will find to be an oasis of reflective relief in America’s desert of bombastic hot air:

    What do we live for, if not to make life less difficult for each other?

    All meanings depend on interpretation.

    No story is the same to us after a lapse of time; or rather we who read it are no longer the same interpreters.

    A toddling little girl is a center of common feeling which makes the most dissimilar people understand each other.

    What loneliness is more lonely than distrust?

    Adventure is not outside man; it is within.

    Now, as to those two birthdays, I expect that neither of the persons (both deceased) I am about to introduce is known to you (for which you are forgiven, but don’t let it happen again). But all is not lost — I remember them well. Their names: Philippe de Broca and Zarah Leander.

    DE BROCA, born March 15, 1933 in Paris, was a French film director from 1959 to the year of his death in 2004. Of the 30 full-length feature films he directed in his career, I have seen only two….but those two are among my favorite movies of all time: THAT MAN FROM RIO (1964) and the cult classic KING OF HEARTS (1966). Here are three short clips from the former and one from the latter:

    LEANDER, born March 15, 1907 in Karlstad (west of Stockholm), was a Swedish singer and actress who achieved her greatest success in Germany in the 1930s-40s. The German film industry had been seeking a new Marlene Dietrich since Marlene left for the U.S. in 1930. Leander made a name for herself in the same homeland as had Swedish screen diva Greta Garbo, which (beginning in 1936) led to starring roles for Leander in German language films in the hope of filling the void. In her memoir, Leander tells of her initial difficulties dealing with the German Ministry of Propaganda, since “Goebbels was highly displeased that the leading lady should be a foreigner. The fact that the mighty Third Reich could not produce its own Greta Garbo seemed to him an admission of inadequacy.”

    For years, I exchanged correspondence with an elderly German first cousin (on my father’s side) who had remained in Germany until her death a decade or so ago. In one of my letters, I mentioned that I had a number of Zarah Leander recordings in my record collection and liked her voice. My cousin informed me that “The German soldiers were infatuated by her songs during the war.” Perhaps this clip will help you understand why:


    • ladysighs 5:48 am on March 15, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      First met George Eliot in high school “Silas Marner”. Just another boring book. 😦
      Later on she became one of my favorite authors. “The Mill on the Floss” is my favorite.
      Some books to be read and reread. 🙂 You know the ending but somehow hope another reading will produce another ending.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 6:58 am on March 15, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        I love how you end your comment; if I re-read it, I hope it doesn’t change. 🙂


        • ladysighs 8:09 am on March 15, 2016 Permalink

          I had to return and reread what I wrote about re-reading.
          Many times after posting a comment I have wished I could rewrite it ……… or just delete it. lol

          Liked by 1 person

      • Mél@nie 3:31 am on March 18, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        @”First met George Eliot in high school…” – same here, lady dear… 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    • linnetmoss 6:23 am on March 15, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Is that Zarah’s voice? Very reminiscent of Dietrich! I found another by her on Youtube (Bei mir bist du schön) and the voice was not quite so low and androgynous.
      I loved “King of Hearts” but have not seen “Rio.”–Thanks for the recommendation!

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 7:35 am on March 15, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        Zarah was 70 years old when she sang the song in that clip, and her voice was indeed lower and huskier than in the 1930s & 40s. I have in my collection many old records of Zarah, and there are other clips of her in later years, so I can confirm the difference you well noticed.
        As for “King of Hearts,” ditto. I think you would also love “Rio” — not to mention its good-looking star, the insouciant Jean-Paul Belmondo!

        Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 8:59 am on March 15, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I know the feeling, ladysighs. I can’t tell you how many times that something I wrote didn’t come across the way I intended, and I could kick myself for not catching it before I posted it. But at least I’m still limber enough to be able to kick myself, even at my age. 🙂


    • Cynthia Jobin 9:25 am on March 15, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Please don’t kick yourself….I always also confuse George Eliot with George Sand. After all, what business have those ladies calling themselves George? Mary Ann Evans was George ELIOT and Aurore Dupin —pal of Frederic Chopin—-was George SAND. Tough for a lady author in those days.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 10:30 am on March 15, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        Thank you for noticing….after my confusion of the two, I join you in asking what business those ladies have calling themselves George! 🙂 Nonetheless, I will correct the error in my post forthwith!

        Liked by 1 person

    • arekhill1 10:11 am on March 15, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Sr. Muse, I always mean to thank you for posting on subjects I am too young to comment on, because it doesn’t happen much anymore. I did see “King of Hearts” once in my extreme youth, however.


    • mistermuse 10:44 am on March 15, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I appreciate that, Ricardo, but I think that only makes us even, because there are times I feel too old to comment on some of the subjects you post on your blog. But at least your posts are often accompanied by pix of scantily clad young women, which I hope never to be too old to appreciate.


    • BroadBlogs 9:07 pm on March 15, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Love those quotes from George Eliot! Hard to say which is my favorite.

      The Ides of March meets Super Tuesday. What’s up with that?

      The assassination of Julius Caesar. The suicide of the GOP — at least at the Presidential level?

      It’s weird year.

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 10:40 pm on March 15, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I agree about the George Eliot quotes. Can you imagine Donald Trump saying, “What do we live for, if not to make life less difficult for each other?” Me neither.
      Speaking of Trump, it appears that Kasich winning Ohio will leave The Donald short of the number of delegates he’ll need to win the Republican nomination going into the GOP convention four months from now. Look for a lot of fireworks in Cleveland in July.

      Liked by 1 person

    • inesephoto 7:13 am on March 16, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you so much for this post! I remember these movies very well! France and Italy have a whole constellation of brilliant movie directors.

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 8:48 am on March 16, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      You’re most welcome! Some movies are so “right” and have a certain magic about them which makes them so unique, you never forget them. RIO, and especially KING OF HEARTS, are two such films.


    • Don Frankel 1:14 pm on March 16, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      “A toddling little girl…” Great quote. I never heard it before. I did have to read Silas Marner in high school. Maybe this makes up for it. Funny though we both used the Ides of March this week which could mean great minds think alike or well it was the Ides of March were in the offing.


    • mistermuse 3:36 pm on March 16, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      “A toddling little girl” can melt the heart of any man (whose heart is capable of being melted). Come to think of it, a big girl can do pretty much the same. 🙂

      Usually at this time of year I do a St. Patrick’s Day post, but this year a little green man by the name of Leprechaun told me my Irish Stout jokes were getting stale, hence the ides of March instead. Nonetheless, I wish you a very happy (& not too tipsy) St. Patrick’s Day tomorrow, Don.


    • Mél@nie 3:33 am on March 18, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      wow, “l’homme de Rio”…”o tempora, o mores!” btw, Jean-Paul Belmondo is 83!!!

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 5:44 am on March 18, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Glad to hear Belmondo is still with us. I notice that Philippe de Broca would also be 83 if he were still alive.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Don Frankel 7:00 am on March 18, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Happy St Patrick’s to you too Muse. I didn’t have a drink but I certainly enjoyed the day. It’s a very special day here in New York.

      Liked by 1 person

    • restlessjo 2:54 am on March 23, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for reminding me that I haven’t read it either. I really should. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Sharron 10:58 pm on April 11, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Your posts are so “different”. I’m learning a lot. Loved the photos and song from Zarah. I had never heard of her. Thank you for the introduction.

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 6:53 am on April 12, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I appreciate that, Sharron. You are kind and gracious….which is wonderfully different than “kind OF gracious” by a (s)mile! 🙂


  • mistermuse 3:06 pm on October 5, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: borders, , Germany, Greece, Hungary, illegals, migrants, refugee crisis, Strictly from hunger, , ,   


    You must remember this — the opening scene (after opening credits) in CASABLANCA:

    I am reminded of that scene’s “tortuous, roundabout refugee trail” when seeing reports  of tens of thousands fleeing from war-torn Syria, west across the Mediterranean in small boats to Greece, and thence overland hundreds of miles through passageway countries to Germany and other destinations. Some die in the attempt (recall the picture-worth-a-thousand-words of the lifeless body of a 3 year old boy washed up on a Turkish beach in early September). Many “wait….and wait….and wait….and wait” in refugee camps. Many more have been kept from continuing on, stopped on their way by the far right government of Hungary, which has been particularly strict in this regard. If you thought “exit visas/letters of transit” were hard to come by in CASABLANCA….

    Perhaps you’ve read some of the recent series of articles in USA TODAY called TREK WITH MIGRANTS in which journalist Kim Hjelmgaard follows “migrants on their arduous 1,500 mile journey from Greece to Berlin” to witness their challenges. Particularly illuminating was Day 7 (CHECKING OUT WALL CURLING ACROSS HUNGARY) of that series, from which I quote:

    I sat next to Robert [Kim’s guide] for most of Thursday as his car zigzagged around small-town Hungary in search of new additions to Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s controversial barrier. The Hungarian leader has already erected a 15-foot-high rampart along the entire 110-mile border with Serbia. Now, he was starting work on a fence to close the 25-mile [border] with Croatia.
    On my way up here this week from Greece, I had been told by several people not to mess with Hungarian police. They are prone to violence, they said. Last week, several journalists said they were beaten and detained for speaking to refugees. So it was Robert (and Naomi), or go straight to the Austrian border, and I didn’t want to do that. Naomi, his girlfriend, wasn’t in the car in the usual sense, but they were in frequent contact by phone, Facebook and text message.
    He told me that the “very beautiful” Naomi — she is 19; he is 23 — was studying to be a physical therapist, and she wanted to one day own a “big, big” house in Sweden and possess extremely expensive things.
    This wall in Hungary had been a flashpoint in the migrant crisis;
    I asked if he thought it was good for Hungary to be trying to seal its borders when so many people were intent on getting through anyway.
    Robert said he didn’t have an opinion either way. And so I asked about Naomi, what does she think, this policeman’s daughter? And of course Naomi had an opinion. I could hear that by the way her voice was spilling out over the edges of Robert’s cellphone. “She said she thinks the wall is a good idea, and that she also understands why the people are leaving their countries,” Robert said.
    “And Sweden?” I asked. “Was there any contradiction in her wanting to go there for the ‘big, big’ house, and people wanting to come to Europe for a house?”
    He didn’t know. I didn’t either.

    There is, of course, more to the refugee crisis than the one scene here. Still, one wonders, why can’t Hungary abide terrorized people passing through? Is Hungary worried that they’ll see how wonderful Hungary is and change their minds about continuing on? Is Hungary concerned that they’ll devour all available food and leave the country so Hungary that it will starve? Is Hungary afraid they’ll leave a trail of drugs, crime, and raped women in their wake? If so, why doesn’t Hungary say so? When it comes to demonizing illegals crossing borders, Hungary’s right wing counterparts in America have no such qualms (and, unlike America, Hungary’s “illegals” don’t come to stay).

    This is a post without a happy ending….but before I close, you younger-than-I trivia buffs may be interested in the origin/meaning of the idiom on which the post’s title is based:

    Strictly From Hunger: Explanations, investigations

    • arekhill1 12:25 am on October 6, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Lucky we live here, Sr. Muse, and have birth certificates that mean we can’t get kicked out. If I were a refugee, though, I’d dream about a big house in a warmer climate than Sweden’s.


      • mistermuse 7:43 am on October 6, 2015 Permalink | Reply

        Well, if I were a refugee running for my (and my family’s) life, any war-ravaged country is too “hot” to either stay in or go to. But, given the luxury of a choice, I’m with you – I too would prefer the climate of, let’s say, Hawaii (not that Sweden wouldn’t be a nice place to visit but not live, as they say).


    • Don Frankel 6:17 am on October 6, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I find this incredibly ironic because my family fled Hungary in 1919. Actually that part had become Czechoslovakia. Then I remember back in the 1950’s after the Hungarian uprising against the U.S.S.R. some distant relative made her way to the U.S. We all went out to the airport to pick her up. I remember it so vividly, as my father spoke to her in Hungarian which seemed so strange. Hearing my Father speak a foreign language.

      I guess it’s.


    • Mél@nie 8:13 am on October 6, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I must have watched “Casablanca”… 10 times, and I’ve never been tired of it!!! 🙂

      • * *

      a human tragedy has been going on in “old Europe” these past months… and no country(government) has any steady or solid solutions!!! I was born in Romania and Hungary’s attitude hasn’t surprised me… history often repeats itself… btw, Hungarians have NO European origin, they’ve been the descendants of the Asian Huns(migratory people!), just like the Finnish people: their native languages sound almost alike, being reckoned as Finno-Ugric language family…


    • mistermuse 8:30 am on October 6, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Don, the story of your family fleeing Hungary in 1919 is very interesting. WWI was over by then, so I assume the country was so devastated that living conditions were terrible. An excellent movie could probably be made of every refugee’s story.

      There’s another scene in CASABLANCA which reminds me of the “price” refugees pay to escape, such as what Syrian refugees pay smugglers to take them to Greece in overcrowded small boats which may capsize in rough Mediterranean waters:



    • mistermuse 8:38 am on October 6, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you, Mel@nie, for the info about the Hungarian people – I didn’t know they aren’t of European origin. History often repeats itself, indeed.
      I too have watched Casablanca many times – in my opinion (and that of many others), it’s the greatest movie ever made.

      Liked by 1 person

    • michele39 10:26 am on October 6, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      History repeats itself.


    • mistermuse 6:23 pm on October 6, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it, as George Santayana said (or words to that effect)…and, unfortunately, sometimes it seems even those who do learn from history repeat it.


  • mistermuse 11:56 pm on February 17, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Germany, Holy Roman Empire, Lutheran, Martin Luther, Worms   


    The above title, for those who aren’t historians or Lutherans, refers (if memory serves me correctly after having just looked it up) to a meeting in 1521 of the Diet (assembly) of the Holy Roman Empire in Worms, Germany. This creepy-sounding town is where Martin Luther ran – hence the name “Lutheran” – to respond to charges of heresy by the Pope and his popets, who were trying to make an ex-monk out of him. Luther (1483-1546) died this very month (February 18th, to be exact), but this post can’t wait until tomorrow to commemorate the day because, as you know, tomorrow never comes….besides which, the rest of this post has nothing to do with Martin Luther. Still, I wish to thank him for the part he played in providing me with a juicy title for my poem:


    Chancing to glance out my kitchen
    window one early spring morning, I
    notice two robins in the yard battling
    furiously over the prize one of them
    has extracted from the ground.
    Fascinated, I watch as the feathered
    fiends fight to claim (you would think)
    the last earthworm on earth. Finally,
    one of the orange-breasted warriors
    prevails, and the unlucky night crawler
    is dead meat. I don’t know if the winner
    was the one who found the worm first.
    All I know is the worm was the one
    who didn’t have much to say about it.

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