Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Strange to Meet You

Strange to Meet You:

is the original 1986 short sketch that became part of the Coffee and Cigarettes anthology film directed by Jim Jarmusch, who celebrated a birthday day before yesterday.

Please share a drink with the folks at the weekly T Tuesday blog party hosted at Bleubeard and Elizabeth's place.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Empire of Passion

Empire of Passion is a 1978 Japanese-language film directed by Nagisa Oshima. A traditional Japanese ghost story, this features a wife who yields to a much younger ex-soldier. I love Japanese horror, especially the ghost stories, and was happy to find this available.

I watched it at Hulu with commercial interruptions, but it was free so I'm not complaining. Of course, Hulu doesn't allow free viewing at all anymore. As I understand it, now you have to pay for a subscription to watch it with commercials. LOL! No, thanks.


Moria gives it a positive review. Slant Magazine calls it "provocative". DVD Talk says, "It's a traditional Japanese ghost story through and through, with regret and temerity as the essentials intermingled within the compartmentalized narrative."

Sunday, January 22, 2017


Troy is a 2004 film based on characters in the Iliad. It's not an adaptation or a re-telling. There are characters with the same names, and some of them do things that might remind you of things they do in the Iliad, but that's as close as you get.

That said, it's a fun adventure movie, and we enjoyed it. It has a great cast, including Brad Pitt, Eric Bana, Orlando Bloom, Diane Kruger, Peter O'Toole, Brendan Gleeson, Sean Bean, and Julie Christie.


The New York Times says, "But for what it is -a big, expensive, occasionally campy action movie full of well-known actors speaking in well-rounded accents- "Troy" is not bad." Empire Online concludes, "Bruising battles and some stirring performances make Troy enjoyable, if rather long. But if audiences can forgive the camp, they’'ll still struggle to empathise with the characters."

Roger Ebert gives it 2 out of 4 stars and says, "Homer's estate should sue." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics rating of 54% but an audience score that's higher at 73%.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Interstate 60

Interstate 60 is a 2002 fantasy road film, the story of an aspiring artist whose father wants him to follow in his own lawyerly footsteps. He is granted one wish at his birthday party, and the wish being fulfilled is the subject of the rest of the movie. James Marsden is the budding artist, Gary Oldman grants wishes, and Amy Smart is the dream girl. Christopher Lloyd, Chris Cooper, Kurt Russell, Michael J. Fox, and Ann-Margret are also here. Bob Gale directs. This is a delightful movie. I had never heard of it before The Younger Son introduced it to me a few days ago. It's a definite conversation-starter, and I could easily watch it again.


Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 80%.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Park Bridge 42

This one is in Audubon Park. We saw it quite some time ago while on a picnic.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Dark Forest

The Dark Forest (English translation, 2015) is the second book in a trilogy that began with The Three-Body Problem. I find these books long, too long to be honest, although after I've finished reading them they stick with me. I'm not sure why they feel over-long as I'm reading them. Odd.

The books must be read in order.

from the back of the book:
The Three-Body Problem gave English-speaking readers their first taste of China's most beloved science fiction author, Cixin Liu, quickly gathering as much acclaim in the United States as it had in China. The Three-Body Trilogy continues with the near-future speculative fiction masterpiece The Dark Forest.

Earth is reeling from the revelation of a coming alien invasion -in four centuries' time. The Trisolarans' human collaborators have been defeated, but the aliens have seeded the earth with sophons, subatomic particles that allow them instant access to all human information, so Eaarth's defenses are totally exposed to the enemy. Only the human mind remains opaque.

This is the motivation for the Wallfacer Project, a daring plan that grants four people enormous resources to design secret strategies, hidden through deceit and misdirection from Earth and Trisolaris alike. Three of the Wallfacers are influential statesmen and scientists, but the fourth is a total unknown. Luo Ji, an unambitious Chinese astronomer and sociologist, is baffled by his new status. All he knows is that he's the one Wallfacer that Trisolaris wants dead.
The LA Review of Books says, "Cixin Liu’s The Dark Forest takes up the Fermi Paradox as one of its central narrative and thematic problems," and concludes their positive review with this: "Why is the universe so uncannily, so eerily, so terribly quiet? Because in the dark forest, anything that makes a sound gets eaten."

Strange Horizons calls it "even better than the first book". Kirkus Reviews says it's "a highly impressive must-read." SF Signal: "BOTTOM LINE: If you enjoyed The Three-Body Problem, read The Dark Forest. If you’ve ever thought about whether or not there’s life and intelligence on other planets, read The Dark Forest. Basically, if you’re a thoughtful human being interested in the universe outside of your own mind, read The Dark Forest.

#1 The Three-Body Problem

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Frankenweenie (2012)

Frankenweenie is the 2012 remake of the 1984 short film by the same name. Tim Burton directs. This is good, especially if you're looking for a horror film but don't want anything gory or scary.


The New York Times describes it as an "Homage to Horror Classics". Time Out gives it 3 out of 5 stars.

Horror News says,
If you’re a lover of the classic monsters then you can’t go wrong with shelling out a few bucks to see “Frankenweenie” ... It touches upon all of the hallmarks that made those films so memorable to this day and entertains those that might not be familiar with those classics of the 30’s at the same time.
Roger Ebert says, "This isn't one of Burton's best, but it has zealous energy." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 87%.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Black Tea Pot

The Black Tea Pot:

is a painting by Jonas Lie, who died on January 18 in 1940. He was born in Norway but moved to New York City via Paris when he was 13. The Black Teapot is currently on exhibit at the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse. The museum site says, "The canvas was painted in 1911 and acquired by the museum in 1913 soon after the work had hung at the now famous Armory Show. Held in New York City earlier that same year, the Armory Show constituted America's first large-scale exposure to the work of the European avant-garde."

Wikipedia says, "He is best known for colorful paintings of coastlines of New England and city scenes New York City," but I also like this autumnal still life.

There is a short biography here and another here. You can see more of his work here.

Please join the weekly T Tuesday gathering at Bleubeard and Elizabeth's Altered Book Lover blog.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Back Exercises

These are some exercises that are supposed to help strengthen the spine. There are illustrated guides online to exercises if you prefer them to videos. There are 4 back strengthening exercises here at RealSimple.com. KnowYourBack.org, the Mayfield Clinic, and How Stuff Works all have suggestions. WikiHow has several articles, including ones here and here and here. There's a pdf here that contains a series of 11 daily exercises intended to strengthen and condition the spine. There aren't many I can use as-is, and I don't mind adapting to suit me. Please be careful to adapt resources to suit you.

The DoYogaWithMe Youtube channel has a one-hour video on spinal care. It is here at this link. For some reason they have disabled the embedding function.

This physical therapy Youtube channel provides a daily video covering a wide range of subjects with adaptations for fitness/ability level. Here's a recent one with great options for back and core strengthening:

Michele Kenway is a physiotherapist who focuses her suggestions on exercises that are safe for women with pelvic floor issues. They are effective for anybody, though. She has 3 videos that target the back, and they are not difficult at all:

This 14-minute video from The Training Toole Youtube channel is directly focused on osteoporosis exercises for the back:

And there's a video from the Healthy Focus LLC Youtube channel:

that links to an article that provides written instructions for the exercises.

The following 2 videos from the Jessica Valant Pilates Youtube channel are (as is the one directly above) targeted to people who have scoliosis (or a curvature of the spine), although I don't do any of the activities that involve spinal flexion:

The Five Parks Yoga Youtube channel has some videos that I like (though I don't do the cat cow or other poses that require spinal flexion, I don't do shoulder stands, and I modify some of the poses):

Margaret Martin's Youtube channel offers videos demonstrating exercises, and I love this one for back-strengthening specifically for people with osteoporosis:

I do some kind of spine strengthening exercise daily.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a 2015 sequel to the 2012 movie. We liked that first one so much we went out the next day and bought this. We were doubtful it could live up to that initial experience, and it wasn't as good as the original; but we enjoyed it and would definitely watch another episode in this tale of elderly and financially-pressed Brits retiring to India.


The NYT likes the cast, but doesn't have much good to say otherwise. Rolling Stone gives it 2.5 out of 4 stars and calls it "basically the same movie as the 2012 original without the novelty."

Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 63%. Roger Ebert's site gives it 1.5 out of 4 stars, calling it "listless".