Downton Abbey ~ The Film

Yes, I’ve done it.  I’ve seen the Downton Abbey film — not once, but twice*

And I have to tell you I thought it just wonderful.

It was just grand to see it on a big film screen.

A close-up view of the dresses (sigh),

the interiors (whoa),

and the table settings (gasp).


And, while there are several story lines to keep the viewer intrigued, Julian Fellows has made Downton Abbey, in all its splendor, the star of the film.

And what was most encouraging was that the film leaves room for another potential series (oh please, please).  

But, if not, the film has tied things up beautifully.

I’m okay either way.

If you’re a fan of the Downton Abbey series, please go see this film – on the big screen.

* I was fortunate to be invited by two different groups of friends.

It really should be called the Enormous Book Sale

It’s that time of year again.

The Big – that’s 1/2 million Books – Sale



September 18-22, 2019 10 AM – 6 PM
Friends Member Preview: Tuesday, September 17, 4-8 PM

The Friends of the San Francisco Public Library invite you to the 55th annual big book sale!  Every year the Fort Mason Festival Pavilion overflows with book shoppers at the Big Book Sale, an iconic San Francisco tradition.

The sale opens to the public on Wednesday morning through Sunday. On Sunday, all books will be sold for just $1. All sections will be restocked daily with new and exciting finds; there will be no shortage of great titles.

This sale features over 1/2 a million books priced between$2-$4 and attracts over 10,000 book lovers from the Bay Area and beyond.

Every year, there are amazing stories of people finding exciting books during the sale. One year someone found a hardcover first edition of To Kill a Mockingbird and bought it for just two dollars. You’ll never know what you’ll find!

No question, I’ll be there volunteering and, much to Husband’s dismay, book shopping too!

On vacation ~~

Book Barmy is on vacation.  Back soon.



But first, I must finish packing….


Rosamunde Pilcher

Rosamunde Pilcher, one of my favorite authors has died at 94.  Ms. Pilcher had been writing short stories and novels for years, first under a pen name and then under her own, when The Shell Seekers, published in 1987, elevated her to a new level of sales and fame.

Her books are a solace — especially made for those bruised and weary days.  Very British, her character driven stories of gentle love, flawed families and steadfast friends have pitch-perfect dialogue and beautifully rendered settings.

She worked for the foreign service during the war, married an officer, and wrote while raising her young children in Scotland.  In one interview Ms. Pilcher related an anecdote from her days as a fledgling novelist with young children.

“I always practice my dialogue out loud,” she said. “Once, when Fiona was small, she had a friend over, and I was hanging up the washing and running through my dialogue. Her friend said, ‘Look, your mummy’s lips are moving.’ And Fiona said: ‘Don’t be stupid. She’s writing.’ ”

More than 60 million copies of her books have been sold around the world and there are special tours run in Cornwall, taking busloads of tourists to the locations in her books.

Ms. Pilcher’s books live on a high shelf in my bedroom with my other favorite comfort reads.  She retired from writing with her final book, Winter’s Solstice.  It’s a cold, rainy and blustery day – I think I’ll go find my copy and snuggle in.

HERE’S  the list of all her books, readily available in any library.

Flower Drum Song

Tuesday was Chinese New Year and while it may not be a major holiday where you are — it’s a full multi-week celebration here in San Francisco.  Our Chinese-American friends are feasting, enjoying family reunions, exchanging lucky money in traditional red envelopes, and oranges festoon every table.

Because of the holiday, our local television station aired Flower Drum Song late the other night, and I donned my PJ’s to stay up to watch the film.  This musical has a special place in my heart.  I was seven years old and it was one of the first films I saw in a real movie theater with my family.  I was totally smitten by its dancing, music, its depiction of Chinese-Americans and the scenes of San Francisco made a big impression upon me. It seemed a magical city and it’s no coincidence it became my home.

And while the current film Crazy Rich Asians is getting kudos for its Asian casting — 60 years ago, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Flower Drum Song broke this ground by being one of the first films to ever feature a largely Asian cast.

Now that I’ve lived here in San Fransisco for more than 35 years, the grown up part of me cringed at the stereotypical portrayal of Chinese-Americans and the simplistic view of the immigrant experience. But, for many in 1961, this film was their first exposure to the Chinese-American culture.

But I soon let go of my adult hang-ups and by the second musical number I was once again delighted.  Flower Drum Song is not considered to be one of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s best, it actually lost money at the box office, but it’s one of my favorite musicals.  Dated yes  — but the colors, the dancing, the costumes, the scenery, and music still transport me back to my seven year old delight.

For its time, it had some breakthrough special effects — the I enjoy being a girl segment has a three way mirror segment that is pure fancy. Here’s where the 60’s ideals of femininity really shine with the beautiful Nancy Kwan in her absolute prime.

The musical dabbles in the avaunt guard dance techniques of the time, with some especially energetic dance segments by a very young Patrick Adiarte who you may recognize from MASH episodes.

The interior sets are pure 60’s fun and there are some pretty realistic (yet Hollywood-recreated) scenes of Chinatown and San Francisco.  Jack Soo is so endearing in his Don’t Marry Me segment.   Just look at that face and try not to laugh when he begs — if you want to have attractive children — don’t marry me!  It was great to see the interspersed film clips of our Chinese New Year’s parade —  largely unchanged to this day and still part of our city’s celebrations.

Flower Drum Song is a light and lively musical, with all the classic elements: an enchanting plot, a wonderful sound track, exotic sets, and a nostalgic glimpse into 1960’s San Francisco. A fun choice for an evening’s entertainment.

If you have Amazon prime, you can stream/watch it anytime – until then

Gong Hei Fat Choy

Let the games begin

Enjoy the commercials game, everyone