Beauty and the Beast: Bringing a Tale as Old as Time to Life

“Winter turns to Spring, famine turns to feast, nature points the way, nothing left to say, Beauty and the Beast.” – Mrs. Potts

Disney could have hardly chosen a better time to make and release a live-action adaption of the beloved Beauty and the Beast 1991 animated classic.*

Winter’s cold, snowy and lethargic presence has been exacerbated by a long, polarizing and turbulent political season, leaving many of us desperately longing for a ray of spring sunshine and a rebirth of our depleted spirit.

While I suspect the film would have been a record-breaker** regardless of its release date, Bill Condon’s Beauty and the Beast was all the more enjoyable and uplifting for the contrast it provides to the current mood and political climate permeating our country.

Whisking us away to a magical world of rolling green hills, a picturesque French village, and a hidden castle in a menacing forest, Beauty and the Beast not only masterfully captured the animated classic’s storyline and spirit in live-action – largely due to exquisite performances by the whole cast of characters – but was a true joy to watch, lifting our spirits and reminding us of the timeless wisdom to find beauty and goodness amidst darkness.

Honoring the lyrical songs written by Howard Ashman and the beloved, whimsical characters, who are just as vibrant and endearing as they were in the original, the film’s greatest strength is imparting subtle changes, with an air of freshness, into the original’s costumes, songs, characters and plot.

Tackling one of the most celebrated Disney classics – without overdoing it or taking too many liberties – is no easy feat, not to mention a bold undertaking. But, striking the perfect balance, Disney has shown it possible to truly bring a tale as old as time to life in a beautiful, enriching and imaginative way.

Watch the trailer and check out some ‘of interest reading’ below:

Of interest reading:

  • The New York Times review of this year’s Beauty and the Beast, which writes: “Its classicism feels unforced and fresh. Its romance neither winks nor panders. It looks good, moves gracefully and leaves a clean and invigorating aftertaste. I almost didn’t recognize the flavor: I think the name for it is joy.”
  • The New York Times review of the 1991 Beauty and the Beast 
  • Emma Watson’s (Belle) feature in this month’s Vanity Fair
  • Dan Stevens (Beast) interview in The Australian

*The 1991 Beauty and the Beast was the first animated feature to receive an Academy Award nomination for best picture (it won two Oscars, for original song and original score).

**This year’s Beauty and the Beast has broken the record for the biggest opening weekend ever for March with an estimated $170 million, had the biggest opening ever for a PG-rated movie, and is now in 7th place in all-time opening weekend grosses, surpassing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (part 2).

Singing in the New Year 2017: Hallelujah!

“There’s a blaze of light in every word;
it doesn’t matter which you heard,
the holy, or the broken Hallelujah!

I did my best; it wasn’t much.
I couldn’t feel, so I learned to touch.
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you.
And even though it all went wrong,
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
with nothing on my lips but Hallelujah!”

– Lines taken from the legendary song “Hallelujah” by the legendary Canadian poet and songwriter Leonard Cohen (1934-November 7, 2016)

Edinburgh sunset
Edinburgh, Scotland; December 2016

Sailing “Close-hauled” Into Summer

sailing quotes Ahh, summer…there is nothing more inspiring than the majestic beauty of a sailboat sailing offshore, making its way into a welcoming harbor filled with beautiful white boats on a sunset-splashed summer evening.

It brings forth dreams of heroic adventures on the high seas and imaginings of far-away paradisiacal places with “palm-green shores” and ancient ports with cargo ships unloading their treasures of “emeralds, amethysts, topazes, cinnamon, and gold moidores” (as John Masefield describes in his poem “Cargoes”), all bathed in the magical golden hues of summer.

The idea of sailing is the ultimate romantic longing – glistening waters, brilliant sunsets, and a solitude that drenches the soul in the wonder, mystery and power of the natural world.

But, as I learned in a recent sailing adventure – with a departure date that was pushed back by the winds and rain of a tropical storm, adding an unexpected dramatic element – sailing is a lot of work. Both physically and mentally demanding, it takes a steady, patient and experienced captain to trim the sails, chart the course and navigate the changing winds and swelling waters.

The quotes below speak to man’s instinctive longing for All Things Nautical and to his adventurous spirit, as Herman Melville once wrote, to “sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts.” They also celebrate the skill of sailors who bravely captain their boats safely through the storm and calm of unpredictable seas.

As Nicholas Monsarrat* once wrote: “Sailors with their built in sense of order, service and discipline, should really be running the world.”

Sailing Quotes:

1. “Never in my life before have I experienced such beauty, and fear at the same time.” –Llen MacArthur, Sailor

2. “The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”  –William Arthur Ward

3. “O Captain! My Captain! Our fearful trip is done, the ship has weathered every rock, the prize we sought is won, the port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting.”  –Walt Whitman

4. “To insure safety at sea, the best that science can devise and that naval organization can provide must be regarded only as an aid, and never as a substitute for good seamanship, self-reliance, and sense of ultimate responsibility which are the first requisites in a seaman and naval officer.” –Admiral Chester W. Nimitz

5. “That’s what a ship is, you know – it’s not just a keel and a hull and a deck and sails, that’s what a ship needs. But what a ship is…really is, is freedom.” –Captain Jack Sparrow

The next three quotes are taken from The Sea and the Wind that Blows, Essays of E.B. White, 1934:

6. “Waking or sleeping, I dream of boats – usually of rather small boats under a slight press of sail.”

7. “Men who ache all over for tidiness and compactness in their lives often find relief for their pain in the cabin of a thirty-foot sailboat at anchor in a sheltered cove. Here the sprawling panoply of the home is compressed in orderly miniature and liquid delirium, suspended between the bottom of the sea and the top of the sky, ready to move on in the morning by the miracle of canvas and the witchcraft of rope. It is small wonder that men hold boats in the secret place of their mind, almost from the cradle to the grave.”

8. “If a man be obsessed by something, I suppose a boat is as good as anything, perhaps a bit better than most. A small sailing craft is not only beautiful, it is seductive and full of strange promise and the hint of trouble.  If it happens to be an auxiliary cruising boat, it is without question the most compact and ingenious arrangement for living ever devised by the restless mind of man – a home that is stable without being stationary, shaped less like a box than like a fish or a bird or a girl, and in which the homeowner can remove his daily affairs as far from shore as he has the nerve to take them close-hauled or running free – parlor, bedroom, and bath, suspended and alive.”

inspirational sailing quotes

9. “Sometimes we are lucky enough to know our lives have been changed, to discard the old and embrace the new and run headlong down an immutable course. It happened to me…on that summer’s day when my eyes were opened to the sea.” –Jacques Yves-Cousteau

10. “All of us have in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea whether it is to sail or to watch it we are going back from whence we came.” –John F. Kennedy, Newport dinner speech before America’s Cup Races, Sept. 1962 

11. “Confronting a storm is like fighting God. All the powers in the universe seem to be against you and, in an extraordinary way, your irrelevance is at the same time both humbling and exalting.” –Francois LeGrande

12. “I kept moving along the deck, backward and forward,
until the waves ripped the sides from her keel and left it
bare, and they snapped the mast from its socket; it shattered
against the keel, but there was a leather backstay
still hanging upon it.  I took it and used it to lash
the keel and the mast together, and sitting astride them
I was carried along on the waves by the furious winds.” –Homer, The Odyssey

13. “The planning stage of a cruise is often just as enjoyable as the voyage itself, letting one’s imagination loose on all kinds of possibilities.  Yet translating dreams into reality means a lot of practical questions have to be answered.”  –Jimmy Cornell, World Cruising Handbook

14. “There is, one knows not what sweet mystery about this sea, whose gently awful stirrings seems to speak of some hidden soul beneath…” –Herman Melville

15. “Any fool can carry on, but a wise man knows how to shorten sail in time.” –Joseph Conrad

famous nautical quotes

16. “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.” –Old Norwegian Adage

17. “My soul is full of longing, for the secret of the Sea, and the heart of the great ocean, sends a thrilling pulse through me.”  –Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

18. “There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm.” –Willa Cather

19. “Some years ago – never mind how long precisely – having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world.” –Herman Melville, Moby Dick

20. “There are three sorts of people; those who are alive, those who are dead, and those who are at sea.” –Old Capstan Chantey attributed to Anacharsis, 6th Century BC

21. “You can sit here in my cockpit and argue philosophy, politics or religion all week long and in the end it doesn’t matter. None of it matters a whit. What matters, what really matters, is that we sailed today and now we sit here with a full belly, a drink in our hands and friends to share it with. And Life is good, this I know.” –Tim Fuhrmann, Sailor

sailing sayingsAlso enjoy these five songs to set sail with:

  1. This is the Sea” by the Waterboys from the 1985 album
  2. I am Sailing” by Rod Stewart from his album Atlantic Crossing 1975
  3. Catch the Wind” by Donovan from the album What’s Bin Did and What’s Bin Hid, 1965
  4. Into the Mystic” by Van Morrison from his album Moondance, 1970
  5. Southern Cross” by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young from the album Daylight Again, 1982

*Nicholas Monsarrat (1910-1979) was a British novelist known for his sea-faring stories, especially his novel The Cruel Sea, which, as Goodreads describes, tells “the story of the British ships Compass Rose and Saltash and of their desperate cat-and-mouse game with Nazi U-boats in the North Atlantic during World War II. First published to great acclaim in 1951, The Cruel Sea remains a classic novel of endurance.”

The “Sunshine of the Lowcountry”

“I was born and raised on a Carolina sea island and I carried the sunshine of the low-country, inked in dark gold, on my back and shoulders.” –Pat Conroy, The Prince of Tides  

Pat Conroy quotes
South Carolina Lowcountry, May 2016

“Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.” –Pat Conroy, The Prince of Tides

“Why do they not teach you that time is a finger snap and an eye blink, and that you should not allow a moment to pass you by without taking joyous, ecstatic note of it, not wasting a single moment of its swift, breakneck circuit?” – Pat Conroy, My Losing Season

Setting Sail Into New Realms

adventure quotes

beautiful ocean sunrise
Photo courtesy of Madeline Huemme

From the East to West Coast and the North to South, set sail this summer – on ocean or lake – to bask in the sun’s golden hues and wander the waters of new realms.

See the “Best Boating Destinations for Summer“, courtesy of Travel Channel :

1. Marina del Ray, California

2. Newport, Rhode Island

3. Key West, Florida

4. Lake Havasu, Arizona

5. Fort Lauderdale, Florida

6. Seattle, Washington

top sailing destinations

See also the “Top 10 Sailing and Yachting Vacations in North America“, courtesy of iExplore :

1. Florida Keys

2. New England: Newport, RI; Boston, MA; Coast of Maine

3. California: San Francisco, San Diego

4. Outer Banks, North Carolina

5. Hawaii

top sailing destinations U.S.

A Perfect Spring Read for a “Break” from the World

The transition from winter to spring is never an easy overnight happening. It can be a time of slow adjustments – a waking up of the senses to the soft light and intoxicating freshness of the spring air. It is the only seasonal transition where the body and soul yearn for a restorative break from the previous season’s grip.

Shepherd's Life James RebanksWith a feeling as if the world is in upheaval, spinning away from the light and into the darkness of chaos, confusion and conflict where incompetent leaders have “lay waste [their] powers”, the need for a spring “break” this year of 2016 seems all the more necessary.

“The world is too much with us”, William Wordsworth once wrote in a poem that speaks to the importance of the restorative powers of nature for the body and soul:

“The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers…
…the winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,
For this, for everything, we are out of tune…”*

An antidote for a time when “we are out of tune”, when all in the world seems to be “howling at all hours” and when our bodies and soul groan their way through the seasonal transitioning, is James Rebanks’ book The Shepherd’s Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Land (2015), referred to as a “James Herriot for modern times.”

A modern-day shepherd raising a family of shepherds, Rebanks is “the first son of a shepherd, who was the first son of a shepherd himself.” The ancient land that he lives and writes in is the pastoral land of William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter in England’s northern Lake District, where he takes the reader through “a shepherd’s year, offering a unique account of rural life and a fundamental connection with the land that most of us have lost.”

It is a place where “life is ordered by the seasons and the work they demand”, which hasn’t changed for hundreds of years. And it is a story, Rebanks writes, “of a family and a farm, but it also tells a wider story about the people who get forgotten in the modern world. It is about how we need to open our eyes and see the forgotten people who live in our midst, whose lives are often deeply traditional and rooted in the distant past.”

Helen MacDonald, prize-winning author of H is for Hawk, another book about retreating from the world after the death of her father, refers to it as a “bloody marvelous” book.

Marvelous it is for the rare opportunity it provides the reader to experience the soul soothing tranquility of living and working “in tune” with the natural rhythms of nature’s seasons in a landscape that was, as James Rebanks writes, created by “nobodies”:

“My grandfather was, quite simply, one of the great forgotten silent majority of people who live, work, love, and die without leaving much written trace that they were ever here. He was, and we his descendants remain, essentially nobodies as far as anyone else is concerned. But that’s the point. Landscapes like ours were created by and survive through the efforts of nobodies.”

He continues: “This is a landscape of modest hardworking people. The real history of our landscape should be the history of the nobodies.”

Below are a few more treasures from the book:

“There is no beginning, and there is no end. The sun rises, and falls, each day, and the seasons come and go. The days, months, and years alternate through sunshine, rain, hail, wind, snow, and frost. The leaves fall each autumn and burst forth again each spring. The earth spins through the vastness of space. The grass comes and goes with the warmth of the sun. The farms and the flocks endure, bigger than the life of a single person. We are born, live our working lives, and die, passing like the oak leaves that blow across our land in the winter. We are each tiny parts of something enduring, something that feels solid, real, and true. Our farming way of life has roots deeper than five thousand years into the soil of this landscape.”  (p.15)

A list of things Rebanks’ shepherd grandfather taught him while growing up, learning, and working by his side:

“We don’t give up, even when things are bad.
We pay our debts.
We work hard.
We act decently.
We help our neighbors if they need it.
We do what we say we will do.
We don’t want much attention.
We look after our own.
We are proud of what we do.
We try to be quietly smart.
We take chances sometimes to get on.
We will fail sometimes.
We will be affected by the wider world…
But we hold on to who we are.”

*Full poem:
“The World is Too Much With Us”
by William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.—Great God!
I’d rather be A pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.

“Once You Have Slept on an Island…”

“In the middle of the Pacific ocean where East meets West, 
Is an Island of fire and ice, Home of the volcano and doorway, 
To another dimension and a different reality. Here magic lives, 
Where the Earth herself liquefies and nothing is quite as it seems.” – Pila of Hawaii 

Hawaii poems
Kauai, Hawaii

March, a month signaling the budding of a new season, is a time for “Spring” breaking — students breaking from the tiresome cycle of classroom lectures and late night studying, adults breaking from a grueling schedule of business meetings and client deadlines, and all of us breaking from the cold, dark days of winter.

Many will break away to the coast of Florida, some maybe to the Caribbean, still others to far-off destinations. But here at ATG, we’ve always “breaked” at an island (Hilton Head Island) — an island with windswept beaches, transcendent sunrises (see below), and a soothing calmness felt in the warm, sand swirling winds.

Its beauty and serenity has kept us returning for more than 30 years, replenishing, restoring and reinvigorating our vitamin-D deprived souls.

There certainly is something about an island. After all, as Rachel Lyman Field writes in the poem below, “Once you have slept on island, you’ll never be quite the same.”

For a little island destination inspiration, check out the 10 islands below that were Traverlers’ Choice Awards for 2015. Happy Spring Break-ing!

Top Ten Island Destinations (via TripAdvisor):

  1.  Providenciales – Turks and Cacos
  2.  Maui – United States
  3.  Roatan – Hondurus
  4.  Santorini – Greece
  5.  Ko Tao – Thailand
  6.  Madeira – Portugal
  7.  Bali – Indonesia
  8.  Mauritius
  9.  Bora Bora – French Polynesia
  10.  Fernando De Noronha – Brazil
Hilton Head Island sunrise
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina; March 2016

“If once you have slept on an Island,

you’ll never be quite the same;

you may look as you looked before,

and go by the same old name.

You may hustle about in street and shop,

you may sit at home and sew,

but you’ll see blue water and wheeling gulls

wherever your feet may go.

You may chat with neighbors of this and that

and close to the fire keep,

but you’ll hear ship whistle and lighthouse bell

and tides beat through your sleep.

And you won’t know why and you can’t say how

such change upon you came,

but once you have slept on an island

you’ll never be quite the same.”

– Rachel Lyman Field

Read also:

“The Island Poem”
by Margaret Haig

The Island was there surrounded by sea,
Where the family stayed, so much to see;

The birds flying in the sky, and on the water too,
Yes! They were enjoying their holiday, it’s true.

The Island stretched for many a mile, they could see,
With plenty of shells, and sand, the sunsets so pretty;
The Coconut palms, and date palms, to walk in the cool,
And the children enjoyed it all, for there was no school.

The husband enjoyed to go fishing each day,
The children loved to run on the sand and play;
The wife, she enjoyed it too, to rest under the tree,
Then she called them all at night, it is time for tea.

The Island holiday soon came to an end,
The children said, our holiday we can pretend;
That we are still on our lovely holiday retreat,
And remember the birds, and the birds so sweet.

Have you ever been to an Island, for a holiday?
Maybe you travelled far, to Queensland, is what you’d say;
Or was it somewhere in the Islands of the south see?
You’ll know it was a holiday to feel so very free.


February 15, 2016: A Presidents’ Day To Remember

See also a reflection on the 2016 Presidential race and a powerful quote from Ronald Reagan on the importance of freedom.

The 2016 Presidential Election may very well be a turning point in American history. Many pundits and journalists are opining that it could even usher in a fundamental transformation of the political landscape, the likes of which we have never seen.

As the candidates travel from one state to another, carrying with them their bag of political goods and ideas, they are met by an increasingly disappointed, disenfranchised and even angry people, contributing to an already fiercely charged atmosphere that can be felt across the entire nation.

Thomas Jefferson quotes

In dizzying times like these, it behooves one to pause and reflect on the past to see where we came from, where we have been and where we are now as a people and nation who have been blessed to have been born, raised and now live in what is considered the freest nation in the history of the world.

And so, we at ATG, will be celebrating Presidents’ Day all week by traveling, through books, first to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello in search of some inspiration and insight into the rocky road that the 2016 presidential race seems to be traversing.

Enjoy the following taken from Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello (2002) by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation:

  • “Thomas Jefferson is the one American statesman who is timeless…of all the Founding Fathers, indeed of all the men of the eighteenth century, the most contemporary.”
  • “[Jefferson’s] brilliant formulation and championship of the fundamental doctrines of human freedom and individual liberty are as relevant now as they were in his lifetime.  He proclaimed that freedom ‘is the most sacred cause that ever man was engaged in.’ ‘Without the precious blessing’ of liberty, he said, life has no sense and no dignity.”
  • “No leader in the period of the American Enlightenment was as articulate, as wise, as conscious of the implications and consequences of a free society as was [Jefferson]. Both in his public and his private life he addressed himself continually to problems of permanent and universal interest. What he wrote and what he did – about the nature of society and of government, the relations of man to government, the meaning of republicanism and democracy, the significance of education and of toleration –are as relevant today as during the eighteenth century. Toward the end of his life his opinions on many subjects varied as his experience ripened – but he never wavered in his faith in government of the people by and for themselves, holding that ‘the people are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.’  He held that all men are created equal, that they possess certain inalienable rights, and that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. That unwavering trust in the dependability, wisdom, and honesty of the common literate individual is his greatest legacy.”
  • “Of all American statesmen, Jefferson was the most philosophical. One abiding purpose runs through his whole life, one pervasive philosophy dominates it. He insisted that man should be free, and he was persuaded that, once free, mankind would progress toward happiness and virtue. He was enraptured with the vision of mankind free from political tyranny, from the bondage of superstition and of ignorance, from the sins of the past, from poverty, from war. He had an eighteenth-century faith in the perfectibility of man, but it was not merely a visionary faith, it was rooted in the reality of New World experience. For here in the New World mankind had been given a new chance – mankind free from the tyrannies and oppressions, the poverty and ignorance of the Old World.  Here men could live close to nature, cultivate the soil, raise large families, keep what they earned, benefit from learning and from science, escape war, advance – as was said in his first inaugural address – ‘rapidly to destinies beyond the reach of mortal eye.’”
  • “And as America was to be a model for the world, to prove what man was capable of when free, Jefferson devoted himself passionately to strengthening this nation, expanding its territory, building up its resources, maintaining its security, fostering its culture and its virtue.”
  • “’I have sworn upon the altar of God,’ he said, ‘eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.’”

2016 presidential race

And, in Thomas Jefferson’s own words:

  • “The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all. I like a little rebellion now and then. It is like a storm in the atmosphere.”
  • “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” (The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776)
  • “Every citizen [should] be a soldier. This was the case with the Greeks and the Romans, and must be that of every free state.”
  • “We are firmly convinced…that with nations, as with individuals, our interests soundly calculated, will ever be found inseparable from our moral duties.”

The Magic of a Winter Evening Sky

“Always without formulating the concept, I had based my sense of being in the world partly on an unreasoned conviction that certain areas of the earth’s surface contained more magic than others.”  – From Without Stopping by Paul Bowles (composer and author, 1910-1999)

NYC Reservoir Central Park
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, Central Park, New York City; 2016

“For I dipped into the future, far as human eye could see, saw the vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be.” – From “Locksley Hall” by Alfred Lord Tennyson (English poet, 1809-1892)

Sunset quotes
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, Central Park, New York City; 2016

“The most beautiful gift of nature is that it gives one pleasure to look around and try to comprehend what we see.” – Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

Ohio River Sunset
Ohio River, PA; 2016