All posts by Rondi Adamson

More on Christopher Plummer

I posted below about his death, and since then have discovered this clip of him singing Edelweiss in his own voice – i.e., prior to the dubbing of another singer’s voice (Bill Lee, I think). Honestly, I don’t know why they didn’t use his real voice. In the film, the Captain makes the comment about not having sung in years, so if he sounds a little shaky, it fits the storyline. Anyway, enjoy this version – quite good.

Painful History

[Update on post below – The verdict is not good. Though the historians do not have to pay damages, they have been ordered to apologize for writing about what they had discovered through rigorous study and research.]

This is very disturbing as to how it potentially affects the study and research of history – and for other reasons. (I have written about my own experiences in Poland as it pertains to the Holocaust.)

The case has its roots in the Nazi occupation of Poland during World War II, when terrified Jews took shelter in the forest and, according to a survivor cited in a recent Polish study of the Holocaust, were murdered there after the wartime mayor of Malinowo, a Pole, told the Nazis of their hiding place.

That horror, however, has now resurfaced, revived by a libel suit against two scholars who edited the study and who stand accused of besmirching the honor of the long-dead mayor and the Polish nation. A verdict in the case, which was brought by the elderly niece of the mayor with support from bodies funded in part by Poland’s government, is expected Tuesday.

The targets of the libel action are Jan Grabowski, a Polish-Canadian history professor at the University of Ottawa, and Barbara Engelking, a historian with the Polish Center for Holocaust Research. Together they edited “Night Without End,” a 1,700-page 2018 study on the role played by individual Poles in aiding Nazi murder.

I lived in France for five years and have spent a lot of time elsewhere in Europe, particularly Italy. No question that any discussion of the Holocaust brings up myriad emotions, sensitivities, anger and denials across the Continent and across the board. There are also, of course, those who are honest about the past, those who were heroic and paid the ultimate price for that heroism, as well. But the silencing of historians in Poland is worrying.

A propos, about five years ago, I read this book – along the same lines as the research of the two historians currently facing legal action, and about as cheerful. I seem to recall Grabowski figuring in Bikont’s book and I know Engelking has also written about Jedwabne. Highly recommend. Would be interested to know what Deborah Lipstadt thinks about this.

The Captain Has Left Us

Christopher Plummer died. Anyone who knows me knows I am an obsessive Sound of Music fan – naturally, I am in immense grief. The Captain has left us. It saddens me that he so – apparently – resented the role, when it made so many people happy and when, quite frankly, it has long helped women (perhaps some fellas, as well) get through life’s tough patches. I cannot tell you how many times, after heartaches, I would watch The Sound of Music and it would just lift me. One of my fondest memories of my oldest brother is of us watching it simultaneously and sending emails back and forth about it – this was pre-social media, otherwise that might have been where we exchanged comments. It was a fun back and forth, because he had previously been super contemptuous of the film, but that evening he came to appreciate much about it. (My love for TSOM guarantees me life-long membership in the Philistine Liberation Organization, but that is another matter. I once wrote a piece in the Ottawa Citizen about my love for TSOM, back in the early aughts – it is likely archived and you would have to pay to read it, which trust me, wouldn’t be worth it.) Of course, there are other Plummer films I love – notably The Scarlet and the Black (with bonus Gregory Peck). Significant Other and I were lucky to see him in The Tempest at Stratford a few years ago. A truly terrible film he made was Must Love Dogs (so bad I won’t link to it), but there was a lovely scene therein where he recites Yeats. Enjoy.

Beryl O’Links: First 2021 Edition

The case against the Iran Deal (to which, stupidly, the Biden administration apparently longs to return) – by Yossi Klein Halevi and Michael Oren, two gentlemen I was fortunate to lunch with on a press trip I took to Israel in the aughts.

Nervana Mahmoud’s beautiful tribute to her mother, who died of Covid. I imagine I would be touched by this eulogy at any point, but perhaps due to the death of my brother from the same virus I feel a special connection to Mahmoud’s words.

Rats are playful, feeling, living creatures – heck, they giggle! We should not be torturing them in labs (or anywhere).

A fair and thorough analysis of why Trump lost, from the Claremont Review of Books.

A vegan restaurant gets a Michelin star. Take that, snooty anti-veganites!

Silvia Foti’s grandfather was a Nazi. But in Lithuania, he has been celebrated as a war hero.

As human birth rates fall, a rewilding is unfolding. (I rather like this.)

Navalny is all-in on bringing down Putinism. I hope he succeeds. If he does it will be with the help of courageous protesters in Russia.

A wolverine caught on camera in Yellowstone for the first time. Extraordinarily cute little gaffer.

So cool: Caligula’s Garden of Delights, unearthed and restored.

And finally, Cloris Leachman died a few days ago. Enjoy what I think is one of her funniest MTM moments (from the episode where Phyllis’ husband is cheating on her with Sue Ann Nivens – yes, I have encyclopaedic knowledge of MTM):

Spies of No Country

Isaac Shoshan died last week. He was an Israeli Arab who worked as a spy and who – among others – is profiled in the very good book, Spies of No Country. I read the latter in the early part of the pandemic – fascinating. I’m good at languages, have a great memory, I love travel and I’m quite adaptable, so I often think I would have made a good spy. But then I think about the not talking during torture part, and I realize I didn’t miss my calling. Or maybe I just didn’t miss that particular calling.

Hamnet and Judith

I’m not a big fiction reader, particularly contemporary fiction, which I generally find ham-handed and tedious. But I absolutely loved Hamnet and Judith, by Maggie O’Farrell. It’s historical fiction, about Shakespeare’s two youngest children, twins Hamnet and Judith. Hamnet died at the age of 11, and the novel is about his death, about the plague (fitting for our era of pandemic), as well as the relationship between Shakespeare and his wife. The latter’s childhood and background are part of the story, and this paragraph describing her as a child and adolescent gave me a huge pang, as this was precisely what I experienced in my family.

She grows up feeling wrong, out of place, too dark, too tall, too unruly, too opinionated, too silent, too strange. She grows up with the awareness that she is merely tolerated, an irritant, useless, that she does not deserve love, that she will need to change herself substantially, crush herself down if she is to be married.

(And yes, I have crushed myself down some.) From that rather painful recollection, though, I bring you some uplift: a clip from a sitcom I just discovered – Upstart Crow. It is about Shakespeare and his family, his career, his friends and the Elizabethan era. Hysterically funny and edifying. Unfortunately, only seems to be on at random times on PBS.