One emperor down, one monarch still goin' strong

On July 29, 1981, I arose well before dawn. I was ten years old and bleary-eyed I climbed on the couch next to my mother and my sister to watch the wedding of Lady Diana Spencer to the Prince of Wales. As British subjects, living at the time in Louisville, there was no way I'd miss out on seeing the fantasy come true, a real life princess and a fairy tale wedding. I remember the morning vividly. Sixteen years later, I stayed up late on the evening of August 31, 1997 when the news of her car accident broke on late night television. My sister awoke me with a phone call early the next morning. "Diana's dead," she said.

It probably seems strange and maybe even a bit like hokum to people in the States, to know how moved I was by both Diana's marriage and, in turn, her death. When you grow up with the monarchy, especially, I think, as a little girl, there's something magical and resplendant about the whole thing.

Thus, I was really moved by parts of the film The Queen, which I saw this afternoon at the Michigan Theater. It details the life of Queen Elizabeth II and brand new Prime Minister Tony Blair in the week following the death of Diana. It's a good movie, with Helen Mirren doing a spot-on job of playing the monarch and a handful of other fine performances by a whole host of vaguely-familiar-looking Brit thespians.

Yesterday, we saw another performance by Brit thespians, although our nosebleed section seats made it difficult to say if they were vaguely-familiar-looking. We had next-to-last-row balcony seats for the Saturday matinee of Julius Caesar, as performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Power Center.

Now, I can't say for sure how things seemed down in the fancy people seats, but from where we were sitting, the performance was absolutely...mediocre. Which isn't what I was expecting at all. Granted, perhaps it was altitude sickness or my own idiocy, but I just wasn't blown away. Decent Cassius and Brutus, which helps, and the Caesar was good. But the Mark Antony was very yell-y. And I don't think Shakespeare would have appreciated that very much. No writer would. In fact, since I like to draw comparisons between me and The Bard, please don't yell this blog posting out loud.

So there you have it. Julius Caesar, thumbs down. The Queen, thumbs up. And bear in mind that you can see The Queen ten times for the price of a ticket to Julius Caesar. Although that would just be silly.

Anyhoo, these performances were both in honor of my father and my step-Marvin (his wife, Marilyn...long story), who are in town for a couple of days. Friday night we dined at home and it turns out our stove does work! Who knew? Then we headed up to Zingerman's for dessert and Dad got to spend a birthday gift certificate at the cheese counter, stocking up on roquefort, stilton and a giant lovely wedge of parmesan cheese.

Saturday was perfectly horrible, weather wise - cold, rainy and with a biting wind. Any hopes I'd had of wandering around town and showing things off were dashed. We did duck into Cafe Zola for brunch, where I had the most glorious little concoction called a cafe borgia - an espresso with a dollop of whipped cream and a grate of orange zest. Our breakfast was, of course, fantastic - their omelettes and crepes are to die for. But the place is ridiculously loud when busy and it really takes the charm out of a meal to have to holler across the table. Hey, a thought just occurred to me: maybe Mark Antony ate breakfast there!

Dad and Marvin were knackered Saturday evening and stayed home while we headed out for dinner with some of our '06 fellows who were in town. We had a bang-up Indian meal (which my father refers to as a "bum burner") at Shalimar on Main Street with Rainey, Graham, Drew, Sally, Birgit and, at the end, Bacon. I had such a terrific time catching up with everyone but it wasn't, of course, enough time and it does tend to highlight how much I miss everyone and wish we'd gotten that whole Fellowship commune going instead of splitting and going our separate ways.

This morning, we went to a brunch at Wallace House hosted by the class of '07 to celebrate our Thomas Kamilindi's political asylum. It was a really nice affair, although it's strange to be back in the house and be an outsider, sort of. Plus, there were enough '06-ers to really confuse matters!

It was beautiful this afternoon, so we did a little popping in and out of Main Street shops and then, before the movie, hit the fish counter at Kerrytown and picked up some things for dinner. We then met Rainey and Graham at Z's for some coffee and too many slices of cake and then it was off to the theater.

Now, we've got a fire in the fireplace. Marvin's zonked out on the couch and, as a portrait of the close modern family, Chris, my dad and I are each sitting silently and wirelessly interneting. It feels like a Sunday night. There's a bath in my not too distant future and maybe hope of an early night's sleep. It has, all things considered, been a good weekend.