The Queen of Versailles is a movie about a couple who set out to build a colossal 90,000-square-foot home — the biggest in America — inspired by the palace of Louis XIV, the Sun King.
In another time, this might have been the premise for a fictional film — a fable about hubris and material excess. But in our time, The Queen of Versailles is actually a documentary about the real life of David and Jackie Siegel of Orlando, Fla.
The whole idea's ridiculous, always has been. Guy dresses up like a bat to scare criminals. Shyeah. Not something that can truly chill the blood — a snake, say, or a spider — but a bat, the sight of which causes most of us to sigh and reach for a tennis racket to shoo the little guy out the nearest window.
It's an idea a kid would come up with, which is one reason it's come in for such merciless lampooning over the years: Pow. Zap. "Holy priceless collection of Etruscan snoods, Batman," et cetera.
Fifty years ago, a young architect named Norton Juster decided to procrastinate by writing a children's book; his roommate, a young cartoonist named Jules Feiffer, did all the illustrations. The result was The Phantom Tollbooth, which has since become a beloved children's classic.
Since Juster knows enough about The Phantom Tollbooth already, we've invited him to answer three questions about The Phantom Menace.
Credit Eliot Kamenitz / The Times-Picayune /Landov
Melissa Harris-Perry, MSNBC's newest host, is a Tulane professor with a Ph.D. in political science from Duke. She hosts the two-hour Melissa Harris-Perry show, which airs on Saturday and Sunday mornings.
Cable news channels tend to treat intellectuals gingerly — as fragile curiosities or as targets for ridicule — when they appear at all.
Not MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry. This newly anointed cable host commutes 1,300 miles each week for her eponymous program of opinionated conversation, interviews and essays that runs live for two hours each Saturday and Sunday morning.