Sunday, August 28, 2016

28 Art House Science Fiction Films

Blastr has a list of 28 art house sci-fi films that will make you smarter and cooler. Who can turn down a chance to be smarter and cooler?

The films:
2046
Alphaville
Altered States
Beyond the Black Rainbow
Brazil (I've seen 2 versions of this film: here and here)
The City of Lost Children
A Clockwork Orange
Cloud Atlas
Code 46
Dante 01
Donnie Darko
eXistenZ
Gattaca
The Handmaid's Tale (but I've read the book)
It's All About Love
La Jetee
Liquid Sky
The Man Who Fell to Earth
Naked Lunch
New Rose Hotel
Primer (2004)
A Scanner Darkly
Solaris (1972)
Solaris (2002)
Stalker
Tetsuo, the Iron Man
Upstream Color
World on a Wire
I've seen the ones in bold print. There are some priceless gems among them. Stalker, for example, deserves to be so much better known. I'll be looking for the others on this list. I have Clockwork Orange and Naked Lunch on my to-be-watched shelf already.


Saturday, August 27, 2016

100 Best Novels

This is The Guardian's 2015 list of 100 best novels of all time:
1. The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan (1678)
2. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe (1719)
3. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift (1726)
4. Clarissa by Samuel Richardson (1748)
5. Tom Jones by Henry Fielding (1749)
6. The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne (1759)
7. Emma by Jane Austen (1816)
8. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818)
9. Nightmare Abbey by Thomas Love Peacock (1818)
10. The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket by Edgar Allan Poe (1838)
11. Sybil by Benjamin Disraeli (1845)
12. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (1847)
13. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë (1847)
14. Vanity Fair by William Thackeray (1848)
15. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens (1850)
16. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1850)
17. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville (1851)
18. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (1865)
19. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins (1868)
20. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (1868-9)
21. Middlemarch by George Eliot (1871-2)
22. The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope (1875)
23. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (1884/5)
24. Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson (1886)
25. Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K Jerome (1889)
26. The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle (1890)
27. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (1891)
28. New Grub Street by George Gissing (1891)
29. Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy (1895)
30. The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane (1895)
31. Dracula by Bram Stoker (1897)
32. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (1899)
33. Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser (1900)
34. Kim by Rudyard Kipling (1901)
35. The Call of the Wild by Jack London (1903)
36. The Golden Bowl by Henry James (1904)
37. Hadrian the Seventh by Frederick Rolfe (1904)
38. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame (1908)
39. The History of Mr Polly by HG Wells (1910)
40. Zuleika Dobson by Max Beerbohm (1911)
41. The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford (1915)
42. The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan (1915)
43. The Rainbow by DH Lawrence (1915)
44. Of Human Bondage by W Somerset Maugham (1915)
45. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton (1920)
46. Ulysses by James Joyce (1922)
47. Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis (1922)
48. A Passage to India by EM Forster (1924)
49. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by Anita Loos (1925)
50. Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (1925)
51. The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald (1925)
52. Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner (1926)
53. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway (1926)
54. The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett (1929)
55. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner (1930)
56. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (1932)
57. Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons (1932)
58. Nineteen Nineteen by John Dos Passos (1932)
59. Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller (1934)
60. Scoop by Evelyn Waugh (1938)
61. Murphy by Samuel Beckett (1938)
62. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (1939)
63. Party Going by Henry Green (1939)
64. At Swim-Two-Birds by Flann O’Brien (1939)
65. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (1939)
66. Joy in the Morning by PG Wodehouse (1946)
67. All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren (1946)
68. Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry (1947)
69. The Heat of the Day by Elizabeth Bowen (1948)
70. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell (1949)
71. The End of the Affair by Graham Greene (1951)
72. The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger (1951)
73. The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow (1953)
74. Lord of the Flies by William Golding (1954)
75. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (1955)
76. On the Road by Jack Kerouac (1957)
77. Voss by Patrick White (1957)
78. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960)
79. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark (1960)
80. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (1961)
81. The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing (1962)
82. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (1962)
83. A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood (1964)
84. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (1966)
85. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (1966)
86. Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth (1969)
87. Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor (1971)
88. Rabbit Redux by John Updike (1971)
89. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison (1977)
90. A Bend in the River by VS Naipaul (1979)
91. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie (1981)
92. Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson (1981)
93. Money: A Suicide Note by Martin Amis (1984)
94. An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro (1986)
95. The Beginning of Spring by Penelope Fitzgerald (1988)
96. Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler (1988)
97. Amongst Women by John McGahern (1990)
98. Underworld by Don DeLillo (1997)
99. Disgrace by JM Coetzee (1999)
100. True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey (2000)
I've read the ones in bold print. Since high school, I've been interested in lists of must-read books, and I've used several of them in the past to find books I'd never have come across otherwise. From this list above, In Cold Blood is the only one I have ready to read.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Happy Birthday, Leon Redbone!

Happy Birthday, Leon Redbone! He turns 67 today. He retired last year, and I trust he's enjoying himself immensely. I don't remember the first time I heard him, but I've always gotten such a big kick out of him.

Lazy Bones:



Ain't Misbehaving (I'm Savin' My Love For You):



My Walking Stick:






Thursday, August 25, 2016

Yoga for Osteoporosis, part 2

Please be careful out there. These are just videos I've found useful personally. 
I have no expertise in anything and can't specifically recommend them to anybody else. 
My doctor said yoga would be fine for me, even with my back issues,
and I try to move slowly and carefully
and know which activities of all kinds I should avoid. 
Again, know your body, know your limitations, and be careful. 
That said, I love yoga!

Part 1 included links to several websites I've found useful and 5 different videos of different lengths and types which demonstrate yoga poses that are thought to help with bone density issues. This post will have several more videos.

This is an 8 1/2-minute video that covers tree pose, triangle pose, downward-facing dog, and upward-facing dog:



This 28-minute video includes half-moon pose, downward-facing dog, warrior 1, warrior 2, tree pose, cat cow (which I don't do), a shoulder-opening (I don't use the strap), locust pose, and corpse pose:



Here's a 13-minute video that demonstrates the pelvic tilt, bridge, backward leg extensions, tree pose, locust pose, and a series of prone leg raises I don't do, :



Following is a 2-part sequence which covers some commonly recommended poses for bone strength. I really like this set, even though the demonstration is only to one side on the standing poses -the first video must be repeated to get the demonstration to both sides. That's easy enough, and this 2-parter is one of my favorites.

part 1:



part 2:



My next blog post on this subject will have videos of individual poses.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Let the Right One In

Let the Right One In is a 2008 Swedish vampire film, a touching and beautiful film. This is a wonderful movie, not really a horror movie but more about relationships.

trailer:



Moria calls it "strong and unusual" and says, "Far more so than it is a vampire film, Let the Right One In is a film about friendship and the closeness that slowly grows between young, bullied Kåre Hedebrant and the alien nevertheless warm-hearted Lina Leandersson." 1000 Misspent Hours calls it "a terribly sad tale with a happy ending more horrible than any of the unhappy conclusions it might have come to instead."

DVD Talk has several reviews, all positive. One says, "There are average vampire movies, unexpectedly good vampire movies, and then there is Let the Right One In." Another says it "accomplishes the nearly impossible feat of simply being original." Yet another describes it as
a film of extraordinary mood and wildly inventive directorial potency. It's a hushed, gentle story of provisional friendship, the ordeal of adolescence, and the curse of vampiric immortality. A hypnotic motion picture from beginning to end, "Right One" is a marvel: an ingenious genre film that manages to terrify and endear in the same instant, deftly erecting one of the most persuasive, haunting movie experiences of the year.
Empire Online gives it 5 out of 5 stars and concludes,
At once a devastating, curiously uplifting inhuman drama and a superbly crafted genre exercise, Let The Right One In can stand toe-to-toe with Spirit Of The Beehive, Pan's Labyrinth or Orphee. See it.
Roger Ebert gives it 3 1/2 out of 4 stars and says,
Remove the vampire elements, and this is the story of two lonely and desperate kids capable of performing dark deeds without apparent emotion. Kids washed up on the shores of despair. The young actors are powerful in draining roles. We care for them more than they care for themselves.
Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 98%. It won numerous awards.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Celtic Crossing


The Husband, The Younger Son and I went to Cooper-Young in Midtown Memphis to Celtic Crossing for lunch one day. I'd have sat out on the lovely patio, but they preferred the air conditioning inside. It's a comfortable place:


They have televisions there and seem to cater especially to soccer (internationally called "football" as The Younger Son reminds us).

You can see the lunch menu here. I had the fish and chips:


and I'm here to tell you that's a dish worth returning for. We decided not to even try resisting dessert:


with coffee. We were full, but happy. What a great restaurant!

Please join the T Tuesday gathering hosted at Bleubeard and Elizabeth's blog. Share a drink with us.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Yoga for Osteoporosis, part 1

Please be careful out there. These are just videos I've found useful personally. 
I have no expertise in anything and can't specifically recommend them to anybody else. 
My doctor said yoga would be fine for me, even with my back issues,
and I try to move slowly and carefully
and know which activities of all kinds I should avoid. 
Again, know your body, know your limitations, and be careful. 
That said, I love yoga!

There's a growing view that yoga can help build bone density. I'm focusing my yoga practice on those poses said to aid this goal. There are numerous websites that name and illustrate the recommended poses, including Huffington Post; Yoga Journal here, here, and here; Life Hacker; Sciatica.org; Gaia.com; EPainAssist.com; and others. There are a number of poses often included in yoga that should not be done if you have bone density issues, and I'm careful to avoid those.

I've found some routines that I like better than others, and I'd like to share those. I prefer video presentations. Some presenters appeal to me more than others. I rotate among them for variety. Here's one that includes 12 different poses:



Here's another that also demonstrates 12 poses:



Here's a 1-hour class with Melissa West, who has a discussion of the benefits and demonstration of suggested poses:



Here's a different Melissa West video:



This video is just 6 1/2 minutes long and includes triangle pose, bridge pose, and half fish pose (the last of which I don't do):


I'll make a 2nd post with other videos I use in my rotation, and I'll have a 3rd post that has videos of individual poses.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Free Course in Critical Reasoning

I love political discussions. I firmly believe we should be able to discuss politics and political issues with those we disagree with without any name-calling, ALL CAPS YELLING, or stomping off in a huff. I'm surprised, though, by how many people have no earthly idea how to do this. I'll describe a recent discussion as an example.

-I'm a confirmed liberal, just to put the discussion in some context, 
and the folks I was talking to are conservatives-

A friend posted a link on FB with this headline: "New leaked email shows Paul Ryan collects Clinton Cash days ahead of WI Primary". I clicked through, read the article, and responded by saying that the actual article didn't make that claim but only said Ryan "may be" accepting "Clinton Cash". I asked if there was any evidence at all that he actually had. These were the responses I got:

  • Usually, where there is smoke, there is fire!
  • Well if it walks like a duck quakes like a duck and swims like a duck. Guess what ???
  • Open your ears!

Now whether you are a liberal or a conservative, surely we can all agree that these are not sensible reasons for believing a claim. That #ManyPeopleAreSaying a thing doesn't make the thing true. Facts and evidence are important. So, I think, is the ability to participate in a reasoned discussion explaining your own beliefs and the reasons for them and pointing out reasons you don't believe the other person's.

I've found this wonderful 6-session course on critical reasoning. I wonder if it would be of use.

Anyway....

This free course on Critical Reasoning for Beginners is offered by Oxford University. This is the description of the course:
Are you confident you can reason clearly? Are you able to convince others of your point of view? Are you able to give plausible reasons for believing what you believe? Do you sometimes read arguments in the newspapers, hear them on the television, or in the pub and wish you knew how to confidently evaluate them?

In this six-part course, you will learn all about arguments, how to identify them, how to evaluate them, and how not to mistake bad arguments for good. Such skills are invaluable if you are concerned about the truth of your beliefs, and the cogency of your arguments.
The first video lesson is The Nature of Arguments and can be viewed at their site or here:



All this emotional reaction to the current presidential candidates seems to miss the point to me. I would think a bit more logic, a few more facts, and a little less vitriolic attack might aid our understanding of the issues.




Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Old Man and the Sea (animated film)

This short film is a beautifully done award-winning animated adaptation of Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea. It's directed by Russian animator Aleksandr Petrov. At just 20 minutes long, take the time. You'll thank me for it.

via youtube:



OpenCulture.com describes the lengthy, painstaking technique and says,
...the film has as much appeal to a range of viewers young and old as Hemingway’s book, and for some of the same reasons—it’s captivatingly vivid depiction of life on the sea, with its long periods of inactivity and short bursts of extreme physical exertion and considerable risk. Both states provide ample opportunities for complex character development and rich storytelling as well as exciting white-knuckle suspense. Petrov’s film illustrates them all...
The book was also adapted in 1958 in a John Sturges film starring Spencer Tracy and in a 1990 television miniseries starring Anthony Quinn.

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Haunting in Connecticut

The Haunting in Connecticut is a 2009 psychological horror film supposedly based on a true story. from Wikipedia:
Promotional material for the film claimed that it was "based on true events" experienced by the Snedeker family of Southington, Connecticut in 1986. Ed and Lorraine Warren claimed that the Snedeker house was a former funeral home where morticians committed necromancy and/or necrophilia with the corpses, and that there were "powerful" supernatural "forces at work" that were cured by an exorcism.

However, according to skeptical investigator Benjamin Radford, there is "little or no proof that anything supernatural occurred at the house". Radford wrote that author Ray Garton was employed by the Warrens to write the supposedly "true story" and was instructed by Ed Warren, "You've got some of the story — just use what works and make the rest up… Just make it up and make it scary."

Researcher Joe Nickell has dismissed the story as a hoax. Nickell noted that since Ed Warren died in 2006, some of his coauthors have admitted he "told them to make up incidents and details to create scary stories."

trailer:



Moria concludes, "This is a film that in its constant and persistent need to keep producing effects for their own sake achieves zero effect whatsoever as a scare show." DVD Talk says, "The Haunting in Connecticut isn't unwatchable or anything, but it's almost aggressively forgettable...as stiff and lifeless as the dusty stacks of bodies from its old mortuary."

Roger Ebert calls it "technically proficient horror movie and well acted" but adds,
If the movie has a flaw, and it does, it's too many Surprises. Every door, window, bedroom, hallway, staircase, basement area, attic and crawlspace is packed with Surprises, so that it's a rare event in the house that takes place normally. The Campbells are constantly being Surprised, so often they must be tuckered out at day's end from all of that running, jumping and standing real still.

But I must not be too harsh...
Empire Online gives it 2 out of 5 stars and closes by calling it a "Fairly pedestrian haunted chiller with so many obvious shocks that they lose their efficacy." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 16%.