Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Coffee in a Cardboard Cup

Coffee in a Cardboard Cup:

sung by Mandy Patinkin, who celebrated his 63rd birthday yesterday. He's a favorite around our house.

Lyrics excerpt:
The trouble with the world today is plain to see
Is everything is hurry up
It's "rush it through"
"Don't be slow"
"BLT on rye to go"
And coffee
I think she said 'coffee'
I know she said 'coffee
In a cardboard cup'
Ain't it the truth! But maybe during this season we can slow down a bit, take our time, and relish what is now.

Join the weekly gathering over at Bleubeard and Elizabeth's blog the Altered Book Lover. Elizabeth has eggnog. Friendly folks are sharing. You'd be welcome to participate.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Memphis Botanic Garden in the Fall

A week ago I went to the Memphis Botanic Garden, one of my favorite local parks.

What lovely Autumn color! Now to be honest, there've been better years for good fall color, and we never get the kind of glorious color here in Memphis that people in some other parts of the country are blessed with. Nevertheless....

We had had our first frost on our patio the night before, though some areas had frost earlier. The high temperature on the day I was here was 58F.

There were people in every area of the park, but not so many that it was hard to get photos.

It's such a peaceful setting. Take a seat, and enjoy the late afternoon.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Bay of Angels

The Bay of Angels is a 2001 novel -her 22nd- by Anita Brookner. This author always appeals to me, and I am reading her novels as I come across them.

from the fly leaf:
Zoe Cunningham is delighted when her widowed mother remarries, particularly as her new step-father is amiable, generous, and the owner of a villa in Nice. Enchanted visits come to an abrupt end when an entirely unexpected development leads to a bewildering decline in which both Zoe and Anne, her mother, are trapped.

Surrounded by strangers, no matter how well-meaning, Zoe and Anne yearn for home, although in different ways, even as that home appears ever more remote, and even as Zoe begins to follow the movements of a reclusive and alluring man. Forced to learn how and how not to trust appearances, Zoe hopes for a benign outcome, as she'd so often read about in the fairy tales of her childhood. It may in fact be possible, but only if she is willing to shed the illusions that those stories did so much to encourage.
The book begins:
I read the Blue Fairy Book, the Yellow Fairy Book, and the stories of Hans Andersen, the Brothers Grimm, and Charles Perrault. None of this was groundwork for success in worldly terms, for I was led to think, indeed I was minded to think, of the redeeming situation or presence which would put to rights the hardships and dilemmas under which the characters, and I myself, had been laboring. More dangerously, it seemed I need make no decisions on my own behalf, for destiny or fate would always have the matter in hand. Although I was too sensible, even as a child, to believe in a fairy godmother I accepted as part of nature's plan that after a lifetime of sweeping the floor I would go to the ball, that the slipper would fit, and that I would marry the prince. Even the cruel ordeals undergone by the little match girl, or by Hansel and Gretel, would be reversed by that same principle of inevitable justice which oversaw all activities, which guided some even if it defeated others. I knew that some humans were favoured -by whom? by the gods? (this evidence was undeniable)- but I was willing to believe in the redeeming feature, the redeeming presence that would justify all of one's vain striving, would dispel one's disappointments, would in some mysterious way present one with a solution in which one would have no part, so that all one had to do was to wait, in a condition of sinless passivity, for the transformation that would surely take place.
random quotes:
Even a happy ending cannot always banish a sense of longing.
That is why stories are so important: they reveal one to oneself, bringing into the forefront of one's consciousness realizations which so far have been dormant, unexamined.
What courage it must take to grow old!

The Guardian says, "If you had never read Anita Brookner before, you would be unreservedly delighted by this book. Its workmanship is such a treat." The New York Times has a positive review and says, "Freedom from attachment, the novel suggests, is no freedom at all."

other Brookner books I've read:

A Start in Life (1981, US title The Debut)
Hotel du Lac (1984)
A Misalliance (1986)
A Friend from England (1987)
Brief Lives (1990)
Fraud (1992)
A Family Romance (1993, US title Dolly)
Altered States (1996)
Visitors (1997)

Saturday, November 28, 2015


Hunted is a touching 1952 drama starring Dirk Bogarde. Bogarde is a man who has just killed his wife's boss for a suspected affair with his wife. A 6 year old orphan runaway comes across him right afterwards. The boy has run away from his abusive adoptive parents because he's in trouble -and not for the first time. This time he set the kitchen on fire. The rest of the film shows the changing relationship of the murderer and the runaway as they work to evade capture.

via Youtube:

The NYT has a mixed review. TCM has an overview.

Friday, November 27, 2015


Galilee, by Clive Barker, is a 1998 fantasy novel. I enjoyed this one, a sweeping narrative covering a broad scope of time and place.

from the back of the book:
Rich and powerful, the Geary dynasty has reigned over American society for decades. But it is a family with dark, terrible secrets. For the Gearys are a family at war. Their adversaries are the Barbarossas, a family whose timeless origins lie in myth,whose mystical influence is felt in intense, sensual exchanges of flesh and soul. Now their battle is about to escalate.

When Galilee, prodigal prince of the Barbarossa clan, meets Rachel, the young bride of the Geary's own scion Mitchell, they fall in love, consumed by a passion that unleashes long-simmering hatred. Old insanities arise, old adulteries are uncovered, and a seemingly invincible family will begin to wither, exposing its unholy roots...
favorite quotes:
How did we all end up bemoaning the fact of living, instead of finding purpose in the fact?
Unpretentious would be a kind description of the town; banal perhaps truer. If it once had some particular kind of charm, that charm's gone, demolished to make room for the great American ubiquities: cheap hamburgers, cheap liquor places, a market for soda that impersonates more expensive soda and cheese that impersonates milk product. By night the gas station's the brightest spot in town.

Kirkus Reviews calls it "entertaining".

SF Site calls it "engrossing" and says,
The truth of Galilee has less to do with its characters or their adventures than with its recognition of the importance of the storyteller—his voice and his conscience—in the telling of tales. In this truth is a redemption both personal to Barker and paramount to readers of dark and fantastic fiction, who work their way, again and again, through stories without point or purpose until coming upon the likes of Galilee.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Blue Flower

The Blue Flower is a 1995 novel by Penelope Fitzgerald. It was her last novel, published the year before her death at the age of 83. I think I must've just expected too much. I loved The Bookshop and Offshore, and critics heap copious praise on this one and say it is her masterpiece. Maybe. I guess I need to read more about her writing. To me, it was a collection of people I didn't care about doing things I wasn't particularly interested in. Sad. One out of 3 ain't bad odds, though, so I will still pick up her novels whenever I come across them. There's something about the way she writes that attracts me.

from the back of the book:
The Blue Flower is set in the age of Goethe, in the small towns and great universities of late-eighteenth-century Germany. It tells the true story of Friedrich von Hardenberg, a passionate, impetuous student of philosophy who will later gain fame as the Romantic poet Novalis. Fritz seeks his father’s permission to wed his “heart's heart,” his “spirit's guide” —a plain, simple child named Sophie von Kühn. It is an attachment that shocks his family and friends. Their brilliant young Fritz, betrothed to a twelve-year-old dullard? How can this be?

The irrationality of love, the transfiguration of the commonplace, the clarity of purpose that comes with knowing one’s own fate —these are the themes of this beguiling novel, themes treated with a mix of wit, grace, and mischievous humor unique to the art of Penelope Fitzgerald.
The NYT says, "Good as the other books are, "The Blue Flower" is better. It is a quite astonishing book, a masterpiece, as a number of British critics have already said...". The New York Review of Books calls it "her finest". The Independent calls it "her beautiful masterpiece". Publishers Weekly closes with this: "Fitzgerald has created an alternately biting and touching exploration of the nature of Romanticism -capital "R"". Kirkus Reviews concludes, "A historical novel that's touching, funny, unflinchingly tragic, and at the same time uncompromising in its accuracy, learning and detail: a book that brings its subject entirely alive, almost nothing seeming beyond its grasp."

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Gravity is an award-winning 2013 film directed by Alfonso Cuarón and starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney.

I meant to see this in the theater but never got around to it. We picked it up at the DVD store, and were very impressed by this film. Sandra Bullock pretty much carries the entire movie and proves herself well up to the task. Even if you don't like movies that take place in space (or orbit) the drama here is the thing. Watch it!


Moria gives it 5 out of 5 stars and names it one of the top 10 films from that year. Empire Online says, "Let’s cut to the chase. The simple truth of the matter is you’re going to love this movie. Love it..." Space.com gives the movie high praise and says, "Bullock's performance in "Gravity" is the kind of actor's tour de force that comes along maybe once in a quarter century. Yes, Sandra Bullock is that good."

Rotten Tomatoes has a 97% critics rating.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Dreams (1955)

screenshot from film watched at Hulu.com

Dreams is a 1955 Ingmar Bergman film about two women who work together in the fashion industry who schedule a 2-day shoot in a near-by town. They are having relationship difficulties with the men in their lives. The older woman is trying to renew her affair with a married man; the younger woman -a model- has been asked by her gentleman friend not to go on the shoot and when she refuses he leaves her. The movie explores the way these women cope with the struggle. The scene at the top of the post occurs when the young model is approached by an elderly man who says he enjoys looking at her and wants to buy her something. He offers her pearls; she asks for hot chocolate and pastries. So sweet!

I watched it via Hulu when it was offered as one of their free films, but it's behind a paywall now. I did find the scene where she tries on the pearls:

The New York Times says:
His current lesson in love is realistic, unadorned and has the polish of the master craftsman. But it is not a major concept he is dramatizing, and it lacks the hallmarks of imagination, expressive symbolism and poetic nuances of some of the truly memorable films that followed "Dreams."
Bright Lights Film has a positive review and says, "Viewers for whom Dreams is an introduction to Bergman’s work are in an enviable position". Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 40% but an audience rating of 77%.

Join the T Tuesday party over at Bleubeard and Elizabeth's blog, where we share a beverage of our choosing and links to our blog posts.

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Wedding

I've been asked by a few people to post a photo of the bride in her dress. This one was taken by a member of the wedding party as photographer Bethany Veach readied the bride for more pictures. She did make a lovely bride!

Here are a couple of close-ups of the bodice:

Here's one of the bride and groom after the service:

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Shadow of a Broken Man

Shadow of a Broken Man by George C. Chesbro is the first in the long-running Mongo the Magnificent mystery series. The private detective is a former circus performer, a karate expert, a university professor, , and a criminologist. He's also a dwarf. There was a planned film based on one of the books, and there's an HBO series being considered for after Peter Dinklage finishes with Game of Thrones. I enjoyed this and will seek out the rest of the series.

synopsis taken from the author's website:
Shadow of a Broken Man is that rare work of fiction, a first novel that is so unusual, so taut and engrossing and yet so timely that it not only demands to be read in one sitting but will surely haunt the reader for longer afterward. On one level, this is a fast-paced thriller. But on another, far more important level it explores the uncharted powers of the mind -its infinite, perhaps dangerous, capacities and vulnerabilities. Brilliantly delving into that shadowy area of the extraordinary, the author explores how extrasensory perception can be used to ultimately affect the destiny of men and of nations.

Dr. Robert Frederickson, known to his friends as Mongo, is a professor of criminology at a New York City university, a former circus headliner, a black-belt karate adept and a private detective -who just incidentally happens to be a dwarf. His investigation into the tangled history of a renowned architect named Rafferty, who died -or is supposed to have died- in a bizarre accident, brings him up against Lippitt, a strange victim of Communist torture, whose interest in Rafferty goes deeper than patriotism. Mongo's tenacity sets in motion an incredible chain of events that comes to an explosive and terrifying climax on a New York waterfront, in which a deadly secret is revealed.

George Chesbro's gift for authentic detail, characterization and dialogue, his dazzling originality, and, above all, his inimitably cool style have combined to produce a uniquely powerful and entertaining first novel.

---From the dustjacket of the Simon & Schuster edition
Mystery File praises it saying, "The writing here is literate and fast-paced, the plot is intricate, the concept is bizarre yet entirely plausible."