December 29th, 2013

jewitch

Poem for Sunday, Trains and Stamps, The Butler

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We spent Saturday downtown with Paul's parents visiting two things his father always enjoys: trains and postage stamps. We parked at Union Station, which in addition to having passenger trains arriving all the time has its winter model train display in the atrium, though construction on the building means that the ceiling and some of the magnificent architecture are blocked in places by nets and screens. There are also several holiday displays still up, including a huge Christmas tree given annually by the Norwegian Embassy that's decorated this year not only with Norwegian and U.S. flags but with miniature reproductions of "The Scream" to celebrate Edvard Munch's 150th birthday.

Then we walked to the National Postal Museum, which is on the lower level of the old City Post Office and still has lots of mailboxes and vaults inside. There is currently an exhibit on the Hindenburg and Titanic disasters -- I had no idea that the former was primarily a flying post office providing the first regular airmail between Europe and North America, but apparently that was how it made the bulk of its money, not flying passengers. (RMS Titanic had its status as a Royal Mail Ship designated in its prefix.) Thousands of pieces of mail were lost in both catastrophes. We also visited the permanent exhibits on US mail delivery and got a few stamps in the "start a collection" area -- I found three George VIs.


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We went to eat early at BGR since I had a birthday coupon that was about to expire and BGR has burgers that fit everyone's dietary requirements. After my in-laws went home, we saw The Butler, which we loved -- the screenplay's bland and predictable in places, but the performances are excellent, more so the major characters than the cameos of presidents and first ladies which threaten to become gimmicky (Schreiber's fantastic as Johnson, Fonda's pretty good as Nancy Reagan and Rickman's not bad as Ronnie, but who thought Cusack as Nixon was a good idea?). I thought Oprah gave a great performance, not at all showy and not upstaging Whitaker, who was phenomenal as always, as were Oyelowo and Howard.