If it’s possible to fall in love with a country, I have. It’s a small, bisected Pacific island country with a whole lot of sheep (more per capita than anywhere else in the world), a nuclear-free policy and Zero Waste goals. The country is New Zealand, with a population of just less than 4 million people, swollen by immigration from Asia and other Pacific islands.
I loved the hospitable people of New Zealand, their humor and warmth, and the fascinating environmental variations in this California-sized (and shaped) place, from the temperate North Island with its green coastal plain reminiscent of England to its partly alpine South Island, with lush native forests and so-called Southern Alps.READ MORE
Of the nine musicals Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote together, The Sound of Music was the last and one of the most financially suc-cessful. On Broadway, it ran for 1,443 performances, while in London it racked up 2,385 shows, a record that remains unbroken for an American musical.
Its chief drawback is its sentimentality or schmaltz, if you will. But its many virtues outweigh its weaknesses in the solidly acted, beautifully sung Walnut Street Theatre production. The show is freshly cast, elegantly designed and utterly unpatronizing.READ MORE
I’m not sure how they got a 2003 Maserati Spyder inside Manhattan’s Four Seasons, since the doors didn’t seem nearly wide enough. But it was, in fact, there in the lobby, oozing style and if-you-can’t-afford-me-don’t-even-ask panache.
It’s been a while for Maserati. The company stumbled badly with its gorgeous but underdeveloped Biturbo models of the 1980s (Forbes says they “practically fell apart on delivery”) and it left the U.S. market in 1990. Three years later, Fiat took over the ailing Modena, Italy-based company and put Maserati under the wing of its other supercar acquisition, Ferrari. So the two historic rivals are stablemates.READ MORE
Last week a tiny winter wren was hopping about in the part of the backyard I can see from the kitchen. I didn’t remember seeing one before, but when I checked the bird-spotting list I keep in my beat-up copy of Peterson’s Field Guide to Eastern Birds, it was already checked off.
I’ve marked 47 species, all seen in the backyard, or flying over it. If I see a bird somewhere else, like the snowy owl that was hanging out at St. Stan’s one winter, I don’t mark it. It’s a backyard record.READ MORE
The Phantom of the Opera at the Forrest Theater is a work of bold and stunning onstage effectiveness. Those who have experienced the show come away with a rapturous lyrical sensation.
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s portrayal of the hideously disfigured composer who lives in the caverns of the Paris Opera House has a magical twist that holds audiences spellbound. Infatuated with talented chorine Christine Daae, the Phantom masterminds the proceedings, advancing her career in the opera company by winning her devotion and threatening the opera-company management.READ MORE
In 1969 I had my first job delivering Toyota Corollas for a Dodge dealership that had taken on this novel Japanese compact. The owner, who drove a souped-up orange Charger with a vinyl roof, used the scrappy little cars as novelty items to get his “real” Chrysler customers in the door. Who’d have thought that, in 30 years, Toyota would be the prestige marque?
The upscaling of the Japanese auto market, via the Infiniti, Acura and Lexus, is a relatively recent phenomenon. Nissan, for instance, didn’t study the luxury niche until 1985, when it formed a task force. The Infiniti division was green-lighted the next year, and the first car, the Q45, started development. Remember the Q’s launch, which featured TV commercials that talked about rocks, trees and water — but said nothing about the car? Scratch one advertising agency.READ MORE
Although we tend to think of the German auto industry as one continuous success story, it actually parallels the U.S. in terms of the carmaker corpses littering the landscape. Though there are plenty of mourners on this side of the Atlantic for the DeSoto, Packard and Studebaker, not to mention the Franklin, Locomobile and Pierce Arrow, the German failures are less well known.READ MORE
If you’ve ever had a bad experience in a chichi restaurant, or worked in one or simply had a strong taste of New York status-mongering, Becky Mode’s Fully Committed at the Philadelphia Theatre Company’s Plays and Players Theater will ring some bells. And if you haven’t, it will confirm all your preconceptions about bad behavior, upscale Manhattan-style.READ MORE