Monday, January 26, 2015

Red Cadillac And A Black Moustache

Red Cadillac And A Black Moustache:

by Warren Smith, who died 1/30/1980 of a heart attack at age 47.

Who you been lovin' since I been gone
A long tall man with a red coat on
Good-for-nothing-baby you've been doing me wrong
Who you been lovin' since I been gone
Who you been lovin' since I been gone

Who's been playing around with you
A real cool cat with eyes of blue
Triflin' baby are you being true
Who's been foiling around with you
Who's been fooling around with you

Somebody saw you at the break of day
Dining and a-dancing in the cabaret
He was long and tall, he had plenty of cash
He had a red cadillac and a black moustache
He held your hand and he sang you a song
Who you been lovin' since I been gone
Who you been lovin' since I been gone


Somebody saw you at the break of day
Dining and a-dancing in the cabaret
He was long and tall, he had plenty of cash
He had a red cadillac and a black moustache
He held your hand and he sang you a song
Who you been lovin' since I been gone
Who you been lovin' since I been gone

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Brain Damage

Brain Damage is a 1988 comedy horror film about a strange parasite named Aylmer that leaves the elderly couple it has been living with to establish itself in the life of our poor young hero. The creature provides an infusion of addictive hallucinogens in exchange for human brains to eat. This is a tragic story, a hard movie to watch.

via Youtube: concludes:
“Brain Damage” will entertain you immensely but if you know someone who has a monkey on his/her back that they cannot shake, it will both bother & entertain you in equal amounts, because it will give you a sense of what this person is going through. Either way, you will never forget it. I know I never will for reasons I pray none of you will ever have to experience in your lifetime.
Moria gives it 4 out of 5 stars and calls it "a searing metaphor for drug addiction". Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 70%.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Proud and the Damned

The Proud and the Damned is a 1972 Western starring Chuck Connors and Cesar Romero. Chuck Connors' tv series The Rifleman was a great favorite of my mother, although I was just a tyke while it was on and didn't ever watch it. There's a summary for this movie at Imdb:
A group of five Confederate mercenaries led by Sergeant Will Hansen must choose sides carefully in a small village where they find themselves trapped in the middle of a rebellion. The group is torn as to whether they should honor the powerful military dictator who forces them to spy for him or help the local village fight for its independence. Follow Sergeant Hansen and his men as they make a decision that could cost them their lives. -Written by
I watched it free at Hulu, but it's also at youtube:

Reviews are hard to come by. I find it a bit slow getting started. And then I kept finding it slow. It's filled with corny romance subplots. I just never got interested in it, and I eventually just kept it on in the background while I did other stuff.

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Earth Dies Screaming

The Earth Dies Screaming is a 1964 science fiction film. It's directed by Terence Fisher, who did a lot of work for Hammer Films. This is an alien invasion film, short at just over an hour, where scattered human survivors gather in a small town. There are the squabbles you would expect as they try to find weapons and come up with a strategy to fight the aliens. It's not bad at all, especially if you're not already over-familiar with alien invasion or post-apocalyptic films.

Reviews are scarce. TCM has an overview.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Fountain and Tomb

Having read and loved The Cairo Trilogy by Naguib Mahfouz, I couldn't pass up Fountain and Tomb (1988) by the same author when I saw it at the book shop. Mahfouz won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1988, the only Arab writer to have won it. He died in 2006 at 94 years of age. The book is almost a collage of 1920s Cairo, a vision shown in parts. He writes beautifully!

from the back of the book:
"I enjoy playing in the small square between the archway and the takiya [monastery] where the Sufis live. Like all the other children, I admire the mulberry trees in the takiya garden, the only bit of green in the whole neighborhood. Our tender hearts yearn for their dark berries. But it stands like a fortress, this takiya, circled by its garden wall. Its stern gate is broken and always, like the windows, shut. Aloof isolation drenches the whole compound. Our hands stretch towards this wall -reaching for the moon."
So begins Naguib Mahfouz's Fountain and Tomb, a kaleidoscopic novel set in Cairo in the 1920s. The narrator -now child, now adult reliving his childhood- tells tales of the street, of separated lovers, childhood games, workers, neighbors, loneliness. In his alley, his small slice of Egypt, he is presented with life's polarities; the excitement and harshness of Cairo at the one end, and the withdrawn but beautiful world of the sanctuary of the other.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Enigma of Arrival

The Enigma of Arrival is a 1987 autobiographical novel by V. S. Naipaul. This book takes place mostly in the English countryside. Naipaul won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2001. I have read a couple of his other novels and enjoy his writing. I feel surrounded by the world he creates, as if I'm a part of it. You can read an excerpt of this book at the Nobel Prize site.

from the back of the book:
The story of a writer's singular journey -from one place to another, from the British colony of Trinidad to the ancient countryside of England, and from one state of mind to another- this is perhaps Naipaul's most autobiographical work. Yet it is also woven through with remarkable invention to make it a rich and complex novel.
favorite quotes:
How quickly his time had passed! How quickly a man's time passed! So quickly, in fact, that it was possible within a normal span to witness, to comprehend, two or three active life cycles in succession.
In that unlikely setting, in the ancient heart of England, a place where I was truly an alien, I found I was given a second chance, a new life, richer and fuller than any I had had elsewhere. And in that place, where at the beginning I had looked only for remoteness and a place to hide, I did some of my best work. I traveled, I wrote, I ventured out, brought back experiences to my cottage, and wrote. The years passed. I healed. The life around me changed. I changed.
The book's title comes from this painting by Giorgio de Chirico:

The Guardian calls it "a sad pastoral" and closes with this: "There is one word I can find nowhere in the text of The Enigma of Arrival. That word is 'love', and a life without love, or one in which love has been buried so deep that it can't come out, is very much what this book is about and what makes it so very, very sad." The New York Times has a qualified positive review.

The London Review of Books says, "Naipaul’s ample unfolding book is of great beauty, delicacy and courage." The Telegraph calls Naipaul "an English prose stylist of the old school."

Kirkus Reviews calls it "unique among literary memoirs" and says,
Dense, often slow, it's a book of enormous subtle accretion but also of stripping away of self-pretense. It also offers a different, deeper sense of Naipaul's sensibility than has been seen: plugged as it is into cycles of ruin that are poetic, viscerally sad, yet ultimately beautiful, Naipaul's precious discomfort--that of the dis-cultured--has never seemed more palpable and moving.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Chocolate Girl

The Chocolate Girl is one of the most famous paintings by Swiss artist Jean-√Čtienne Liotard (1702-1789). says, "Liotard was traveling through the city drawing portraits of Austrian royalty when [Prince] Dietrichstein asked him to capture Anna’s likeness as a wedding gift." This blog post at The Curator's Choice has a fairy tale-like story about how server-then-princess Anna became the model for the painting.

I'm good getting my own chocolate, thanks, and I don't imagine I would ever have transformed into a very convincing princess. I'll just have a cozy drink on a winter morning and enjoy the story. Join me? I'll be at Bluebeard and Elizabeth's T(ea) Tuesday gathering.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Cremation of Sam McGee

The Cremation of Sam McGee:

a poem by Robert Service, read by Johnny Cash.

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.

Now Sam McGee was from Tennessee, where the cotton blooms and blows.
Why he left his home in the South to roam 'round the Pole, God only knows.
He was always cold, but the land of gold seemed to hold him like a spell;
Though he'd often say in his homely way that "he'd sooner live in hell."

On a Christmas Day we were mushing our way over the Dawson trail.
Talk of your cold! through the parka's fold it stabbed like a driven nail.
If our eyes we'd close, then the lashes froze till sometimes we couldn't see;
It wasn't much fun, but the only one to whimper was Sam McGee.

And that very night, as we lay packed tight in our robes beneath the snow,
And the dogs were fed, and the stars o'erhead were dancing heel and toe,
He turned to me, and "Cap," says he, "I'll cash in this trip, I guess;
And if I do, I'm asking that you won't refuse my last request."

Well, he seemed so low that I couldn't say no; then he says with a sort of moan:
"It's the cursèd cold, and it's got right hold till I'm chilled clean through to the bone.
Yet 'tain't being dead—it's my awful dread of the icy grave that pains;
So I want you to swear that, foul or fair, you'll cremate my last remains."

A pal's last need is a thing to heed, so I swore I would not fail;
And we started on at the streak of dawn; but God! he looked ghastly pale.
He crouched on the sleigh, and he raved all day of his home in Tennessee;
And before nightfall a corpse was all that was left of Sam McGee.

There wasn't a breath in that land of death, and I hurried, horror-driven,
With a corpse half hid that I couldn't get rid, because of a promise given;
It was lashed to the sleigh, and it seemed to say: "You may tax your brawn and brains,
But you promised true, and it's up to you to cremate those last remains."

Now a promise made is a debt unpaid, and the trail has its own stern code.
In the days to come, though my lips were dumb, in my heart how I cursed that load.
In the long, long night, by the lone firelight, while the huskies, round in a ring,
Howled out their woes to the homeless snows— O God! how I loathed the thing.

And every day that quiet clay seemed to heavy and heavier grow;
And on I went, though the dogs were spent and the grub was getting low;
The trail was bad, and I felt half mad, but I swore I would not give in;
And I'd often sing to the hateful thing, and it hearkened with a grin.

Till I came to the marge of Lake Lebarge, and a derelict there lay;
It was jammed in the ice, but I saw in a trice it was called the "Alice May."
And I looked at it, and I thought a bit, and I looked at my frozen chum;
Then "Here," said I, with a sudden cry, "is my cre-ma-tor-eum."

Some planks I tore from the cabin floor, and I lit the boiler fire;
Some coal I found that was lying around, and I heaped the fuel higher;
The flames just soared, and the furnace roared—such a blaze you seldom see;
And I burrowed a hole in the glowing coal, and I stuffed in Sam McGee.

Then I made a hike, for I didn't like to hear him sizzle so;
And the heavens scowled, and the huskies howled, and the wind began to blow.
It was icy cold, but the hot sweat rolled down my cheeks, and I don't know why;
And the greasy smoke in an inky cloak went streaking down the sky.

I do not know how long in the snow I wrestled with grisly fear;
But the stars came out and they danced about ere again I ventured near;
I was sick with dread, but I bravely said: "I'll just take a peep inside.
I guess he's cooked, and it's time I looked"; ... then the door I opened wide.

And there sat Sam, looking cool and calm, in the heart of the furnace roar;
And he wore a smile you could see a mile, and he said: "Please close that door.
It's fine in here, but I greatly fear you'll let in the cold and storm—
Since I left Plumtree, down in Tennessee, it's the first time I've been warm."

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Green Mile

The Green Mile is a 1999 film. Horror? Fantasy? Drama? Prison film? All I know is that this is one of my favorite movies. I'm not even sure why. I find something new everytime I watch it.

It's based on a Stephen King book and is directed by Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption, The Majestic, season 1 of The Walking Dead). Tom Hanks stars with David Morse, Bonnie Hunt, Michael Clarke Duncan (who died in 2012 of a heart attack at age 54, brilliant in this break-out role), James Cromwell (who had a Star Trek role as Zephram Cochrane), Michael Jeter (The Fisher King, Waterworld), Sam Rockwell (Moon), Jeffrey DeMunn (who is Dale in The Walking Dead), Harry Dean Stanton (active in film, including in Escape from New York, and on TV since 1956), Dabbs Greer, Gary Sinise, William Sadler (who has a Star Trek DS9 connection), and Paula Malcomson (who has a Star Trek: Enterprise connection).


Empire Online gives it 4 out of 5 stars and says,
The Green Mile is about as accomplished a piece of storytelling as you'll come by. Morse, Clarke Duncan, Bonnie Hunt as Edgecomb's wife and, especially, Hutchison weave their own acting magic. Hanks everyman routine may have become so ingrained it virtually doesn't register, but you can't imagine the movie without him. And Darabont, the real star, is a director in a classic-tradition. Give him a story and he delivers a real movie.
DVD Talk says, "Our buttons are being pushed, but The Green Mile is such a well-done film that we shouldn't mind" and says the film "holds up well and should continue to do so." EW gives it a B grade and says, "In its own old-fashioned way, Darabont's style of picture making is well matched to King-size yarn spinning. The director isn't afraid to let big emotions and grand gestures linger". Roger Ebert gives it 3 1/2 out of 4 stars and closes with this: "As Darabont directs it, it tells a story with beginning, middle, end, vivid characters, humor, outrage and emotional release. Dickensian." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 80% and an audience score of 94%.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Glen and Randa

Glen and Randa is a 1971 post-apocalyptic film, rated X back then because of some incidental full nudity. The movie is almost scary in its portrayal of a culture brought low, where knowledge has to be achieved starting from the basics. The main character, on seeing a car up in a tree in the first scene, says, "You ever been looking down on a leaf and all of a sudden a butterfly came flying out of it? Well, maybe it's the same way with cars. Maybe cars become trees the same way leaves become butterflies." So sad. "What are we gonna eat when the cans run out?" An excellent question.


Moria says it "is actually very good science-fiction in that it is about viewing the everyday and familiar through eyes to whom it is alien." DVD Talk says, "The movie attracted plenty of positive reviews, yet it has remained relatively obscure." The NYTimes says, ""Glen and Randa" is neither a successful nor an entertaining movie, but it is sober, and what mind it has is high." The Village Voice says, "The vision of a post-apocalyptic America is all the more poignant in that the on-the-road counterculture that created it is long, long gone."