Saturday, December 20, 2014

I, the Jury

I, the Jury is a 1953 film based on a Mickey Spillane Mike Hammer book. It's the first filmed adaptation of a Hammer novel. Biff Elliot (who has a Star Trek: The Original Series connection) is Hammer. Elisha Cook, Jr. (who also has a ST:TOS connection) has an uncredited role. I think Hammer is played as well here as anywhere else I've seen him. It takes place over the Christmas holiday season and is a fun change from the usual holiday fare.

via Youtube:

There's not much in the way of reviews online.

Friday, December 19, 2014

A Dixon Christmas

Isn't the main entrance to The Dixon gallery festive?

Coming up towards the entrance are several signs of holiday cheer.

The interior is also beautifully decorated, but I didn't even ask if photos were permitted; I always assume they aren't. I did find two photos at the Dixon website, though. This one of the living room:

and this one of the dining room:

They've done such a wonderful job of bringing the season to the space!

I also saw the Rodin exhibit -Rodin: The Human Experience- while I was there. The Dixon site says,
Auguste Rodin (1840–1917) was arguably the most celebrated sculptor of the nineteenth century, and was regarded as the greatest sculptor since Michelangelo. The remarkable works of Rodin will make their triumphant return to the Dixon Gallery and Gardens with Rodin: The Human Experience, an exhibition of fifty-one works in bronze.

Rodin: The Human Experience examines the artist’s multi-faceted explorations of the human figure in bronze, ranging from small scale sketches to the artist’s well-known monumental works. Alongside commissioned works of specific individuals will be Rodin’s sculptural experiments with the human figure, ranging in style from the classically-inspired to the gothic. Visitors to the exhibition will be greeted in Garrott Court by the monumental sculpture, The Three Shades, Rodin’s interpretation of the souls of the damned who stand at the entrance to hell in Dante’s Inferno.
I remember the last Rodin exhibit the Dixon hosted back in 1988 -The Passion of Rodin-, and his sculptures make a striking display. The staff has gotten less cranky over the years, which makes visits much more enjoyable now than they used to be. The Dixon is a great way to spend a few hours, whether you like art, or flowers and gardens, or both. I feel so fortunate that Memphis has this.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Man with the Load of Mischief

The Man with the Load of Mischief is a 1981 detective novel by Martha Grimes and is first in the Richard Jury series, which is ongoing and currently at 23 titles. I saved this book to read this month because it takes place over the Christmas holiday season and begins on December 19. It was a quick, enjoyable read, and I think I'll look for the rest. I've been advised to read them in order.

teaser from the book:
Long Piddleton had always been wary of newcomers, but the quiet town was stunned when the first stranger was found dead, upended in a butt of ale in the cellar of The Man with a load of Mischief. Then the second body appeared, swinging in place of the mechanical man above the door of the Jack and Hammer.

Suddenly, Long Piddleton had good reason to be wary of everyone! Its cozy pubs and inns with their polished pewter and blazing hearths had become the scenes of the most bizarre crimes. Who were the victims? And who was the murderer? A maniac? A stranger? Or the disarmingly friendly man next door?

The English inn stands permanently planted at the confluence of the roads of history, memory, and romance. Who has not, in his imagination leaned from its timbered galleries over the cobbled courtyard to watch the coaches pull in, the horses' breath fogging the air as they stamp on dark winter evenings? Who has not read of these long, squat buildings with mullioned windows; sunken, uneven floors; massive beams and walls hung round with copper; kitchens where joints once turned on spits and hams hung from ceilings. There by the fireplace the travelers of lesser quality might sit on wood stools or settles with cups of ale. There the bustling landlady sent the housemaids scurrying like mice to their duties. Battalions of chambermaids with lavendered sheets, scullions, footmen, drawers, stage-coachmen, and that Jack-of-all-trades called Boots waited to assist the travelers to and from the heavy oaken doors. Often he could not be sure whether the floor would be covered with hay, or what bodies might have to be stepped over or crept past on his way to breakfast, if he slept in an inner room. But the breakfast more than made up for the discomfort of the night, with kidney pies and pigeon pies, hot mutton pasties, tankards of ale, and muffins and tea, poached eggs and thick rashers of bacon.
The Man with the Load of Mischief was no exception -a half-timbered, sixteenth-century coaching inn through the archway of which Melrose Plant now drove his Bentley, parking it in the unused stableyard.
They stood now in the low, dimly lit hall, hung about with sporting prints and stuffed birds, his aunt and Simon Matchett making small talk smaller.
Kirkus Reviews says, "Grimes is working in the grand old English-village style--successfully recalling (without lapsing into parody) the humor of Marsh and Allingham, the red-herring smorgasbord of Christie, and some of the richer textures of Sayers."

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Man Who Came to Dinner

The Man Who Came to Dinner is a 1942 film, directed by William Keighley. Monty Woolley (who was the professor in The Bishop's Wife) stars as the celebrity who falls on the icy front steps of the home where he's been invited for dinner. He's confined to a wheelchair and proceeds to take over the house. A more unpleasant guest one could never hope to host. And to top it off, he sues them! Bette Davis is his secretary. Billie Burke is the distraught lady of the house. Ann Sheridan is also in this. The movie takes place during the Christmas holiday season, and will make a fun addition to holiday-themed movie watching around here. I'd never seen it before watching it at the Internet Archive, but I've already picked up the DVD for annual viewing.

via Internet Archive:

DVD Beaver calls it a "delightful, lightning-paced farce". DVD Talk says, "It's dated but still mostly funny". Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 80%.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A Christmas Bowl of Smoking Bishop

This is the part of Dickens' A Christmas Carol after Scrooge's conversion when he's trying to make amends. He tells his employee Bob Cratchit what he's planned and says,
...we will discuss your affairs this very afternoon, over a Christmas bowl of smoking bishop, Bob!
A perfect way to work out relationship problems, make restitution for past mistakes, and start a better way forward with someone, I think. Yes! Invite them to share a seasonal hot beverage.

Smoking Bishop is described by Wikipedia as "a type of mulled wine, punch or wassail". The Husband is a teetotaler, so we drink mulled cider instead. Here's our recipe:

Mulled Cider

1 gallon apple cider
4 cinnamon sticks
1 1/2 teaspoon whole allspice
1 teaspoon whole cloves
Slices of an orange, as many as will attractively fit
Slices of a lemon, as many as will attractively fit

In a large pot, heat the cider with cinnamon sticks, allspice, cloves, orange slices, and lemon slices just to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 30-45 minutes.

We leave it on the stove, leave the spices and fruit in it, and ladle directly from the pot. We are a very informal family though, and you can strain it into a punch bowl and add fresh fruit -as we have done in the past- for a prettier service for a party. Serve with a cinnamon stick in each cup for extra flair.

Please join the T(ea) Tuesday festivities over at Bleubeard and Elizabeth's blog.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Respect Yourself

Respect Yourself:

by "Pops" Staples, who died 14 years ago this coming Friday 9 days before what would have been his 86th birthday, with The Staples Singers on Soul Train.

If you disrespect anybody
That you run in to
How in the world do you think
Anybody's s'posed to respect you

If you don't give a heck 'bout the man
With the Bible in his hand
Just get out the way
And let the gentleman do his thing

You the kind of gentleman
That want everything your way
Take the sheet off your face, boy
It's a brand new day

Respect yourself, respect yourself
If you don't respect yourself
Ain't nobody gonna give a good cahoot, na na na na
Respect yourself, respect yourself

If you're walking 'round
Think'n that the world
Owes you something
'Cause you're here

You goin' out
The world backwards
Like you did
When you first come here

Keep talkin' 'bout the president
Won't stop air pollution
Put your hand on your mouth
When you cough, that'll help the solution

Oh, you cuss around women
And you don't even know their names
And you dumb enough to think
That'll make you a big ol man

Respect yourself, respect yourself
If you don't respect yourself
Ain't nobody gonna give a good cahoot, na na na na
Respect yourself, respect yourself
Respect yourself, respect yourself

Sunday, December 14, 2014

A Christmas Accident

A Christmas Accident is a 1912 silent short. Sweet. Filled with the spirit of the season.

via Youtube:

Saturday, December 13, 2014

I'll Be Seeing You (1944)

I'll Be Seeing You is a 1944 film that takes place during the Christmas holidays. It's directed by William Dieterle and stars Joseph Cotton, Ginger Rogers, Spring Byington and Shirley Temple. Ginger Rogers is on a special furlough from prison where she's serving a term for accidental manslaughter. Joseph Cotton is on leave from a military hospital where he's being treated for shell shock. They meet on the train, but hide the truth from each other. I really enjoyed this. The actors are very good, and the story is such a sweet one.

via Youtube:

DVD Verdict calls it, "a sweet story, nicely acted by its experienced cast" and recommends it "In the spirit of compassion and goodwill". Rotten Tomatoes has a 72% audience score.

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Enchanted Forest

The Daughter and I recently went to the Pink Palace Museum to go through the Enchanted Forest. When I was a child back in the 1960s, this was located in the Goldsmith's department store downtown. A winter wonderland with animatronic woodland creatures and penguins and elves that was a must-see for kids every year.

Eventually, Goldsmith's closed their downtown store, and the exhibit took a hiatus and then was moved out to the Agricenter. It's been at the Pink Palace for over a decade.

Here's a video walk-through from 2010:

It brings back delightful childhood memories to see it again.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Mr. Ives' Christmas

Mr. Ives' Christmas is a 1995 novel by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Oscar Hijuelos, who is better known for his 1989 The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love. Hijuelos died late last year of a heart attack at 62 years of age. He was a New Yorker, born and bred, of Cuban immigrant parents.

This book is the story of Edward Ives, a foundling adopted and raised in a loving home, and of his life through the years. Not a cheerful book, I find it filled with a deep sadness, though beautifully written.

favorite quote:
The fact was that Ives, uncertain of many things, could at that time of year sit rather effortlessly within the incense and candle-wax-scented confines of a church, like Saint Patrick's, thinking about the images, ever present and timeless, that seemed to speak especially to him. Not about the cheery wreaths, the boughs of pine branches, the decorative ivy and flowers set out here and there, but rather about the Christ child, whose meaning evoked for him a feeling for "the beginning of things," a feeling that time and all its sufferings had fallen away.
Ray Suarez at NPR describes it as "a Holiday hymn to New York" and says, "It is the story of Edward Ives, an adopted boy of uncertain ancestry raised by a loving father in Brooklyn, who grows to middle age in mid-century New York." Kirkus Reviews says the book "sails close to the shoals of sentiment but remains an honest, moving account of a man, his family, and the changing city they live in."

The New York Times has a review and offers this plot description:
Ives, in the Gospel phrase, hungers and thirsts after righteousness, but in spite of the Gospel promise he is not satisfied. Mr. Hijuelos shows us what Ives's lifelong hunger costs him and what it costs his wife, Annie, an artist turned English teacher, yet he makes us love the two of them...