Friday, September 8, 2017

Evacuation Route

I am heading out for my safe haven.  I’ll check in when I get there, and hope that all stays put here at Chez Mustang.

Thanks for all your good wishes, and I hope that Irma decides to head out for a long sea cruise to the middle of nowhere.

Update: I’m ensconced with my friends on relatively higher ground and in a safe place.  We’re as ready for the storm as we can be.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Short Takes

Italy may stop ship unloading migrants.

Forty arrested for protesting healthcare bill on Capitol Hill.

U.S. to hold off on further airline laptop bans.

Miami-Dade public schools achieve no “F” schools status.

Arkansas Ten Commandments monument run over.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Short Takes

Trump’s tax plan is great for business.  Deficit?  What?

National parks endangered by Trump’s plan to reverse course on preservation.

“Freedom Caucus” approves warmed-over healthcare bill.

Which are the highest — and lowest — rated U.S. airlines?

Talk about your native Americans…

R.I.P. Jonathan Demme, 73, director of “Silence of the Lambs” and “Philadelphia.”

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

On The Road

I’m heading off to Independence, Kansas, for the 36th William Inge Theatre Festival.  I’ll be having a short play read in the New Play Lab, then presenting a paper at the scholars conference, and doing a workshop on dramatic criticism.  It will be a full week, and as I have in the past, I’ll post some stories and pictures.

Independence Historical Museum

So this is it until I get settled in to my hotel room.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Want To Get Away From It All?

The Sunday before last November’s election, I ran a story about a joke website set up in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, to attract Americans who wanted to move there in case Trump won.

Well, they’re doing a land-office business.

The first sign of what Rob Calabrese would come to think of as America’s unmooring began last year, just after Donald Trump won his first presidential primary and Calabrese published a $28 website that he’d designed in 30 minutes. “Hi Americans!” it began, and what followed was a sales pitch for an island where Muslims could “roam freely,” and where the only walls were those “holding up the roofs” of “extremely affordable houses.”

“Let’s get the word out!” Calabrese wrote, adding a photo of an empty coastline along the Atlantic Ocean. “Move to Cape Breton if Donald Trump Wins!”

It was meant as a joke — but seven hours after Calabrese linked the site to the Facebook page of the pop radio station where he works as a DJ, in came an email from America. “Not sure if this is real but I’ll bite.” And then another: “It pains me to think of leaving, but this country is beyond repair.”

And then more. Within 24 hours, there were 80 messages. Within a week, there were 2,000, and many used the same words: “nervous” and “terrified” and “help.”

“The United States is losing its mind,” one person wrote.

“So ashamed of half of my country I could curl up and cry,” wrote another.

The emails kept coming, so many that soon the island’s tourism association brought on four seasonal workers to help respond to the inquiries, which were arriving from every state and hundreds of towns, until it seemed to Calabrese that America was filled with people who wanted to get away.

“Look at this one,” he said one day recently, scrolling through a spreadsheet where the inquiries were organized and stopping on No. 2,121. “I am a former U.S. Marine who did two tours to Iraq. And I want out of here.”

“Beyond astonished,” Calabrese said, scrolling through more.

There were emails from a molecular biologist, a University of Oregon professor, a granite construction worker, a contractor for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a woman who said her home town was “Unfortunately, Alabama.” There were declarations and confessions about incomes, sexual orientations, goals for their children. Several included résumés. “I am so sick of what has happened to my beautiful country,” one letter began.

“I desperately want to move my daughters to the safety and sanity of Canada,” email No. 3,248 read. “It doesn’t even really matter if Donald Trump wins. He has exposed the awful attitude that plagues the US.”

“This is no longer the America I have loved for all my life,” email No. 3,310 read. “I am a hardworking man and could contribute much to any country that gives me a chance.”

It was somewhere around email 4,230 that Trump was elected president of the United States, and just before his inauguration came email No. 4,635.

“Looking to immigrate to Cape Breton area from Colorado,” it began. “I am a skilled paralegal and my wife is an attorney.”

Calabrese read it, wondered briefly about the people who sent it, and waited for the next one to come in.

“What do people see on the horizon to be this afraid?” he said.

Maybe they don’t want to find out after it’s too late.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Friday, February 24, 2017

Short Takes

Kim Jong-nam killed by VX nerve agent.

Arms Race: Trump calls for U.S. nuclear supremacy.

Hang in there, RBG — Ruth Bader Ginsburg says she’ll stay on SCOTUS as long as she can.

Miami-Dade and Broward schools to keep protections for transgender students.

Cheap Seats — Airlines’ no-frills flying taking off.

Friday, December 23, 2016

It’s Cold Outside

Yeah, I remember what being in a “temperate” climate is like and why I moved to Florida.

The trip was uneventful.  I had a little fun with the guy at the rental place; when we were doing the pre-departure check-out of the car, I said, “Oh, the steering wheel is on the left?”  That got a nervous chuckle.

Anyway, I’m here and already basking in the glow of family dinners and Christmas cocktail party cheer.  It’s taken the edge off the smack in the face when I walk outside, but I’m glad I brought a couple of sweaters and a jacket.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Sunday Reading

How To Try A New Country — If you don’t like the results of the election and vow to leave the country, Julie Lasky at the New York Times recommends you do some homework.

cape-breton-11-06-16Rob Calabrese, a Canadian radio disc jockey, launched a website earlier this year inviting Americans to take refuge on a Nova Scotia island. The site, Cape Breton if Donald Trump Wins, has received two million visits and so many inquiries about emigrating that it now offers a link to the Canadian government’s application. (President Obama even mentioned it during a state dinner with Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister.) The site was, of course, a response to a familiar refrain, the threat to move abroad if politics doesn’t go your way. During this presidential campaign, people took to Twitter to vow to move to Canada, and the use of the search phrase “move to Canada” surged on Google.

The Association of Americans Resident Overseas estimates that eight million nonmilitary Americans currently live abroad, in more than 160 countries. While there are no reliable statistics about motives, few of the expatriates are believed to have left out of disgust with their politicians. Much more likely, they made a job-related move. Or retired to a warmer climate and friendlier economy. Or simply took a vacation and never came home.

Nan McElroy, for instance, had been working as a film and video editor in Atlanta when she visited Italy for the first time at the age of 40. She fell in love with the country, and ultimately moved to Venice 11 years ago. Now 60, she works as a sommelier and oarswoman, teaching people to row boats standing up in the Venetian style. “Even when it’s simple, it’s really complicated,” she said about emigrating. “You have to really want to do it.”

I asked Ms. McElroy and others familiar with expat life about the things Americans traveling abroad should do if they’re visiting a place with an eye to settling down. Here are several suggestions.

Book your accommodations through Airbnb and be sure to take out the garbage.

If you really want to get a feeling for a city, my experts agreed, do not stay in a hotel. Hotels cater to what they think are your tastes and go out of their way to make you comfortable. Instead, find an actual home that allows you to experience genuine life. Stumble around during a power failure. Take a shower without hot water. Sort the trash; did the neighbors give you the stink eye? Recycling regulations vary from country to country but can be astoundingly complex. Japan has eight categories of trash, including combustibles, noncombustibles, plastics and plastic bottles. If you don’t put the right detritus in the right bag, your garbage may be publicly branded with what one expatriate blogger in Nagoya described as “the red sticker of shame.”

Stop by a local grocery store. Did you find peanut butter and Pop-Tarts?

Of course not, but even if it’s hard to imagine life without typical American foodstuffs, don’t despair. George Eves, the British-raised, Amsterdam-based founder of Expat Info Desk, a website that produces guides for expatriates, said that a growing number of non-American businesses cater to American tastes. Mr. Eves singled out My American Market, a French website that sells Dr Pepper, jelly beans and Aunt Jemima syrup among its 900 products. Despite such bounty, there will be difficult-to-sate-cravings that a brief vacation may not reveal, so think hard about what you may miss. A Quora survey answered by 26 American expats pinpointed Mexican food as the No. 1 yearning. For those serious about Cape Breton, Mr. Calabrese warned that the nearest Ikea is a 20-hour drive. (Though another is opening in Halifax, only five hours away.)

Rent a car and tool around.

It’s the best way to get a sense of the local topography and find out where everyone goes on weekends. Keep in mind that gas prices are all over the map. The highest price is in Hong Kong ($7.19 per gallon), the lowest in Venezuela (4 cents per gallon). A study by the traffic app Waze, based on data from 50 million drivers, rated the Netherlands the best country overall for driving, El Salvador the worst.

Take off your jacket and imagine the sun beating down on you in midsummer — 20 years from now.

What may seem like a pleasant climate in spring may be a sopping inferno in summer or cryogenic tank in winter. “If you’ve never lived by the Equator, you may find you hate being in air-conditioning all the time,” said Mr. Eves, who has lived in India, Poland, South Africa, Russia and Ukraine, among other places. There’s also global warming to consider. Prognosticators say the countries that will endure it best have both fortunate geographic locations and strategies for mitigating the impact. A University of Notre Dame index put Germany and Iceland at the top of the list, Chad at the bottom.

Tour the local institutions: real estate offices, international schools, houses of worship — but not the hospital, if you can help it.

Much can be learned about medical services in other countries through websites like and Just Landed. No need to court disease or injury on the road. Asked whether giving birth in a foreign country was the best way to test the healthcare system while securing citizenship for a child, my experts demurred. “That doesn’t always work these days,” Mr. Eves said. “I was born in Switzerland, and I didn’t get Swiss citizenship.”

Comparison shop.

If your company is giving you two days to make up your mind about resettling in a new land, head instantly for the nearest expat bar — you can find it through the local English-language newspaper or digital equivalent — and interrogate the people sitting there. If you have more time to decide, feel free to move on. Betsy Burlingame and Joshua Wood, who run Expat Exchange, an online resource site based in New Jersey, said that many users make the prospect of retiring on the beach a theme of their travels. “Some of those people start planning ahead of time and take vacations for years,” Ms. Burlingame said. They report being in Ecuador, then Costa Rica, then the Philippines. “They find their place that way.”

The 10 Best Affordable Caribbean Destinations — US News & World Report ranks places to get away on the cheap.

To help you find the right island for the right price, U.S. News ranked the best affordable Caribbean vacations based on top recommendations from industry experts and everyday travelers. Many of these hot spots can be experienced on a budget thanks to perks like free beach access and frequent deals on airfare and hotels. Vote for your ideal bargain Caribbean getaway below, and consult these rankings to guide you to your next sandy retreat. Use the money you saved to treat yourself to some umbrella drinks.

8 Beach

Guide to British TV Period Dramas — Devon Ivie at New York magazine covers them in chronological order.

There’s something inherently pleasing about tuning into a good British period drama. The accents, the costumes, the landscapes, and even the colloquialisms are an aesthetic treat for the eyes and ears. As another such drama lands on streaming today — Netflix’s most expensive production to-date, The Crown — we’ve rounded up all the British-produced period dramas currently on the air, and sorted them in chronological order for your convenience. More a fan of the Victorian-era monarchy than 1960s detective capers? Fear not, we have all of your interests covered below.


The Last Kingdom

Short pitch: Set in the late 9th century, the series primarily revolves around the fictional Uhtred of Bebbanburg, who must choose between his birth country, Wessex, and the people who raised him after he was orphaned, the Danish, when a war between the two kingdoms rages on.
The costume scale: The Saxons and Danes have distinctive visual identities, but the costumes themselves aren’t inherently special. (Lots of armor and assorted battle gear.)
Where can I watch it? Netflix



Short pitch: There’s a whole lot of sex and nudity on this steamy drama, which chronicles the life of Louis XIV in the mid-17th century when the Sun King decides to move his court from Paris to Versailles.
The costume scale: The French courts know a thing or two about grandeur, to say the least.
Where can I watch it? No legal streaming services yet, but it’s currently airing in the U.S. on Ovation.



Short pitch: A debonair and stubborn captain returns to his home in Cornwall following the end of the American Revolutionary War, where he attempts to rebuild his life and faces many difficulties in the process.
The costume scale: Frocks and tricorn hats and breeches galore, but it’s generic for the setting.
Where can I watch it? PBS, Amazon



Short pitch: Beginning when Queen Victoria ascended the throne in 1837 at the age of 18, the first season of the show recounts everything from her early years: the romances, the politics, and the birth of her first child.
The costume scale: All of the most opulent wardrobes you can possibly imagine for the mid-19th-century monarchy. (The royal jewels are pretty grand, too.)
Where can I watch it? Coming to PBS early next year, or available on the ITV Hub if outside the U.S.

Ripper Street

Short pitch: A competent group of detective inspectors and captains patrol the particularly violent area of London’s East End in the late 19th century and do their best to solve any and all crimes that occur … which is usually a lot.
The costume scale: Lots of great looks for both the men (three-piece suits, bowler hats!) and the women (bell-like silhouettes, corsets!), which provide a nice juxtaposition to the gritty cityscape.
Where can I watch it? Netflix


Peaky Blinders

Short pitch: A cunning gangster family — also known as the real-life Peaky Blinders gang — is the epicenter of a post–World War I Birmingham. Their fearless leader has a penchant for violence, cunning mind tricks, and avoiding the police.
The costume scale: You won’t find a lot of colorful dressers in gloomy central England — there are a lot of muted, dark hues that are often paired with herringbone tweed.
Where can I watch it? Netflix

The Durrells (also referred to as The Durrells in Corfu)

Short pitch: Due to some pesky financial problems, a mother, Louisa Durrell, and her four children move from the south of England to the idyllic island of Corfu in the 1930s. It takes them a bit of time to adjust to the new locale.
The costume scale: Light and airy ensembles that are perfect for spur-of-the-moment seaside strolls.
Where can I watch it? PBS



Short pitch: This incredibly sexy, bonkers time-travel drama follows a former World War II nurse who gets transported back to mid-18th-century Scotland while on a trip with her husband in Inverness. Plenty of brutal historical happenings and timey-wimey romantic entanglements ensue.
The costume scale: Three words: Swan. Nipple. Dress. (The costumes are incredible.)
Where can I watch it? STARZ on Demand, Amazon


Father Brown

Short pitch: An astute Roman Catholic priest in a small Cotswold village helps assist the local police force with solving an array of crimes.
The costume scale: Conservative clergy chic for the 1950s. Unremarkable, really.
Where can I watch it? PBS

The Crown

Short pitch: Netflix has huge plans for this very expensive period drama, with the first season beginning with Queen Elizabeth II’s wedding to Prince Philip and the tumultuous early years of her reign.
The costume scale: Nothing less than stunning and ornate, literally fit for a queen. You will ooh and you will ah.
Where can I watch it? Netflix, beginning November 4


Short pitch: An Anglican priest in the 1950s turns out to have quite the natural sleuthing chops in his cozy Cambridgeshire village, which earns him the trust and mentorship of a local detective inspector. They’re good at solving cases together!
The costume scale: Once again, clergy chic, but far more progressive than Father Brown, especially for the women.
Where can I watch it? Amazon, PBS

Call the Midwife

Short pitch: A group of hardworking nurse midwives in the late 1950s juggle their difficult medical duties — in a particularly poor part of London, no less — while living in an Anglican nursing convent.
The costume scale: Often drab to accompany the very drab East End, but those blue medical dresses and red cardigans are iconic.
Where can I watch it? Netflix, PBS

Inspector George Gently (also referred to as George Gently)

Short pitch: This 1960s-set drama in northern England follows an old-fashioned, methodological inspector who pursues justice with the help of his faithful sidekick sergeant.
The costume scale: Pretty normal dressing for a professional, police workplace setting.
Where can I watch it? Hulu, Netflix


Short pitch: A diligent police constable and his equally able-bodied team solve various crimes in 1960s Oxford.
The costume scale: A plethora of well-tailored, nondescript suits.
Where can I watch it? PBS

Love, Nina

Short pitch: A 20-something girl moves to the buzzing metropolis of London to take a job as a live-in nanny for a single mother with two rambunctious boys.
The costume scale: Exactly what you imagine people in the mid-’80s to have worn. Things are starting to get a bit grungy!
Where can I watch it? No legal streaming services yet, but the episodes can be purchased on Amazon.

Doonesbury — The board game.

Friday, October 14, 2016

On The Road Again

The switch has been flipped; the dry season is here in South Florida, and soon the snowbirds from up north will start flocking south to the sun and fun of the subtropics.  In fact, you’ll start seeing them and their cars on the road any day now…

014-1Actually, that’s me in the Pontiac down in the Keys last year on a day trip with some friends from the local British car club.  And that will be me this weekend on my annual journey to Lakeland, Florida, for the Lake Mirror Classic Auto Festival.

That means that this weekend I’ll be posting pictures and stories about the show and the cars.  I think we all need a break from the madness, at least for a little while.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Short Takes

Next: Taliban appoints new leader.

Eleven states make a federal case out of peeing in private.

The T.S.A. says long lines at airports are here for a while.

The housing market recorded their best gains in 24 years in April.

The Tigers lost 8-5 to the Phillies.

Tropical Update: Invest 91L gets an early start on the season.