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Showing posts from August, 2018

Crazy Rich Asians and the Regency

Over the weekend I saw a delightful movie titled Crazy Rich Asians. It’s based on a best-selling book of the same name, by Kevin Kwan.
The story is set in Singapore, and it highlights the culture clash that results when the son of one of the wealthiest Chinese families on the island brings his Chinese-American girlfriend, an independent New Yorker, home to meet his family. 
Naturally, the family member the girlfriend most wants to impress is her boyfriend’s protective, traditionally-minded mother, and the chances of that happening go from low to almost nil.
It’s a fun movie, with terrific acting from the leads, especially the mother, played by Michelle Yeoh. But I think the main star of the show is the island republic that lies just off the tip of the Malay Peninsula in Southeast Asia - Singapore.
And, wouldn’t you know it, Singapore has some significant ties to Regency England.
That’s because the man credited with founding Singapore in 1819, mainly for use as a trading post for the Brit…

The end of the Holy Roman Empire, or what happens when the Empire doesn't strike back

This is the way the world ends Not with a bang but a whimper
T.S. Eliot wasn't actually describing the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire when he wrote those words in his poem, “The Hollow Men.” Nonetheless, his words are an extremely apt way to describe the end of the Holy Roman Empire, which ended quietly with a stroke of a pen exactly 212 years ago in August of 1806. That’s when the last emperor decided it was his duty to abdicate, letting the ancient dominion under his protection dissolve rather than allow Napoleon to usurp the role of Holy Roman Emperor and everything that came with it. By that August the end of the empire had become inevitable. Napoleon’s victory over Russia and Austria at the Battle of Austerlitz in December of 1805 and his formation of the Confederation of the Rhine the following July (after he convinced 16 German princes to renounce their allegiance to the Holy Roman Empire and join him) were fatal blows. Throughout its thousand-year history, the Empire e…

At the drop of a hat: a history of headgear

“Cock your hat – angles are attitudes,” said Frank Sinatra. While I would never disagree with Ol’ Blue Eyes, because I believe that a hat set at a rakish angle makes a statement in any era, I’d take it a step further. Sometimes the hat itself speaks volumes, all by itself, no matter how it sits on someone's head.
Cast your mind back to the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., in January of 2017. The hundreds of thousands of pink knitted or crocheted hats atop the heads of a sea of protestors made an unforgettable sight and sent a clear visual message concerning the marchers' support of human rights, along with their criticism of the newly inaugurated President Trump.
Likewise, a red mesh trucker hat emblazoned with the slogan “Make America Great Again” has become an unmistakable badge of a Trump supporter.
And hats were especially important during the French Revolution, just prior to our Regency era. During that turbulent time a poor unfortunate who wasn’t wearing a hat associated …