Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Johnnie's Drive-In

While we were in Tupelo looking at wedding veils -pause for ahhhhh- we went to Johnnie's Drive-In for lunch. Elvis has a booth here labeled as the one he sat in when he came here as a child. It was very crowded, and we had to wait for a table. We weren't seated at Elvis' table, sadly, and we didn't feel comfortable taking a picture of someone else's booth. There are photos online, and I'm linking to one here.

I had a hamburger, fries and a coke:

We got a kick out of eating where Elvis had eaten, and the food and service were good. Trip Advisor gives it 4.5 out of 5 stars. Yelp has a rating of 3.5 out of 5 stars. Tiny Travels Through Mississippi includes it in their Tupelo tiny tour, has some good interior photos, and says, "The burgers were tasty in a real-food, just-like-you-remember kind of way. What a treat."

Join the party at the link-up at Bleubeard and Elizabeth's blog. There's a nice welcome and a variety of beverages waiting for you there.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Guitar Man

Guitar Man:

by Jerry Reed, who died on 9/1 in 2008.

Well, I quit my job down at the car wash
And left my mama a goodbye note
By sundown, I'd left Kingston
With my guitar up under my coat

I hitchhiked all the way down to Memphis
Got a room at the YMCA
For the next three weeks
I went a hauntin' them nightclubs
Lookin' for a place to play

Well, I thought my pickin'
Would set 'em on fire
But nobody wanted to hire
A guitar man

Well, I nearly 'bout starved to death down in Memphis
I run out of money and luck
So I bummed me a ride down to Macon, Georgia
On a overloaded poultry truck

I thumbed on down to Panama City
Started checkin' out some of them all night bars
Hopin' I can make myself a dollar
Makin' music on my guitar

Got the same old story
At them all night piers
"There ain't no room around here for a guitar man
We don't need a guitar man, son"

So I slept in hobo jungles
Bummed a thousand miles of track
Till I found myself in Mobile, Alabama
In a club they call Big Jack's

A little four piece band was jammin'
So I took my guitar and I sat in
I showed 'em what a band would sound like
With a swingin' little guitar man, show 'em, son


So if you ever take a trip down to the ocean
Find yourself down 'round Mobile
Well, make it on out to the club called Jack's
If you got a little time to kill

Just follow that crowd of people
You'll wind up out on his dance floor
Diggin' the finest little five piece group
Up and down the Gulf of Mexico

And guess who's leadin'
That five piece band
Why, wouldn't you know
It's that swingin' little guitar man, yeah, little guitar man.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Wedding Ring

Wedding Ring is a 1950 Japanese drama film directed by Keisuke Kinoshita and starring J├╗kichi Uno, Kinuyo Tanaka, and Toshir├┤ Mifune (who is one of my favorite actors). This is the story of a young married couple and the doctor who has started treating the husband for tuberculosis. It's a delicate movie, slow in developing, but some things are worth spending time with.

I watched it free on Hulu, but it's behind their paywall now. I can't even find a trailer to share. Here's a screenshot I found online:

This movie isn't available on DVD, but is worth looking for online.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Love Me Tonight

Love Me Tonight is a 1932 musical comedy romance film starring Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald. Also starring are Charles Ruggles, Charles Butterworth, and Myrna Loy. Listen to Chevalier sing, "Isn't It Romantic". What a delight! This will certainly bring a smile.

Youtube has it online, divided into 10-minute segments. Here's the first 10 minutes:

The other parts are linked at Youtube: part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7, part 8, part 9

It's listed as one of the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die. Slant Magazine gives it 4 out of 4 stars and says, "the film's most astonishing feat is the vulnerable and charming performances the director finesses from two of musical comedy's most impenetrable vocalists: Maurice Chevalier and Jeannette MacDonald." DVD Talk calls it "the best musical of the early-talkie era" and says, "even film fans who normally don't like musicals will enjoy Love Me Tonight for its enormous wit". Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 100%.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Kill, Baby, Kill

Kill, Baby, Kill (aka Curse of the Living Dead) is a 1966 Mario Bava horror film about a series of murders in Carpathia where the bodies are found to have silver coins embedded in their hearts. This is a beautifully creepy ghost story.

via Internet Archive (dubbed in English):

Moria gives it 3 out of 5 stars and says, "Mario Bava accumulates a wonderfully haunted atmosphere." 1000 Misspent Hours gives it 3 1/2 stars and says, " it is one of Mario Bava’s finest and most influential gothics, and is almost certainly the most visually stunning movie he ever made." DVD Talk opens with this:
Widely recognized as one of the finest Italian gothic horror films ever made, the late, great Mario Bava's Kill, Baby... Kill! is a testament to the director's skill at combining painterly and atmospheric visuals with unusual and otherworldly storytelling. A ghost story at it's core, on the surface the film might seem to be little more than a well made exercise in style over substance but a bit of digging and it's obvious that there's a lot more going on in the movie than simply a little blonde ghost making trouble for a small town.
Slant Magazine gives it a good review. Rotten Tomatoes has a 61% critics rating and a 71% audience rating.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Kinsman Saga

The Kinsman Saga is the 1987 re-working of 2 previous novels by Ben Bova. I find the concept odd and don't understand why authors can't move on, leave the books they've already written alone, and write new material. But no. This author has given us a rewrite of a rewrite. I've read Privateers by Bova and loathed it. I gave this book a chance because The Younger Son already had a copy and promised me that Bova is worth reading if you can get past the political ideology and misogyny. I realize I may be in a minority on this author -after all, he's published a kajillion books and won multiple awards- but I just get bogged down in the heavy-handed agenda-driven writing. "Them that like it speak well of it" as the saying goes.... This particular book is a fine and easy read and I don't at all regret reading it, but I'm just opposed to what I see as a beat-you-over-the-head writing style.

A separate issue for me is the author's Foreword, in which for 9 pages he tells us how prophetic his work has been. It seems important for him that we fully realize that, whereas I think the telling part is not that his work was prophetic but that it is so important that he tell us it was.

The Foreword then moves on to the symbolism in this book:
There are many symbols in Kinsman's story. I mention this mainly because most critics have been blind to them. Or perhaps they think of symbolism only in its psychological sense, where rockets are considered phallic and a wheel-shaped station is thought to be vaginal. That is not the sort of symbolism I am speaking of.

Kinsman himself is a symbol.
Bova then goes on to explain what the symbols are, explaining where "The Christian symbolism is at its plainest" and explaining how the "technological gadgets of the story also serve as symbols."

For one thing, I believe that if the critics have somehow missed something perhaps it isn't there. For the author to complain about the depths the critics have missed seems to me to show a lack of understanding of what critics do.

For another thing, I believe an author may be the least suitable person to tell us what a book's aspects mean. S/he may tell us what s/he hoped to impart, but it's up to the reader to decide what is actually in the book. If the author has to spell out what s/he meant to be using as symbols, then they weren't effective as symbols. If the symbols failed to serve as symbols for readers and if the author feels the need to point out what they were and what they meant... well, that says something to me about the author. Maybe he should just write political pamphlets instead.

Can you tell how annoying I find the Foreword?

All that is to say I find the author's attitude in his Foreword and the writing style in the two of his books I've read to be something I have to get past before I can try to enjoy the story. I probably won't make further attempts.

from the back of the book:
Nearly forty years in the making,
The Kinsman Saga
is Ben Bova's masterwork - it is a riveting epic
of politics and passion,
of war and redemption ... and of one man,
who in battling for his soul,
helps create humanity's boldest future.
Born to wealth and privilege, Chet Kinsman has abandoned him family's Quaker roots to become one of America's hottest Air Force astronauts. Kinsman is a schemer, a smug daredevil who embarrasses his superiors and believes that the world's ills cannot harm him... until, in a secret orbital confrontation, Kinsman becomes the first person to commit murder in space.
Shattered by guilt, Kinsman is grounded and barred from active duty. But Chet Kinsman is addicted to space, convinced that human survival depends on conquering this last frontier. Using all of the resources available to him, Kinsman embarks on a project to secure humanity's future -in a desperate gambit that will end in victory and peace... or execution for treason.
Kirkus Reviews describes it as "A massive but unoriginal tome; in fact, a rewrite combining two previously published works, Millennium (1976) and its later "prequel" Kinsman (1979), itself a rewrite of various short stories that appeared during the 1970's" and says it's for "Kinsman fans and true believers only."

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Birthplace of Elvis

When we went back to Tupelo to look at veils to go with The Daughter's wedding dress we had some time to enjoy the tourist attractions. Tupelo is the birthplace of Elvis Presley, and they have a site that marks the spot. The house pictured above is the actual house where Elvis was born, but historic preservation doesn't seem to be their goal. The house was built without electricity, but they've added lights and air for the comfort of their staff and as a result have lost entirely what the house actually looked like on the inside when Elvis lived there. You do get a sense of the size of the place. It was a 2 room house, and it still has just the 2 rooms. It's furnished in period-appropriate style. There's a museum on the grounds that is filled with document facsimiles, period photos, and items similar to objects that would've been in use during the time period Elvis lived in Tupelo. There was a woman from Tupelo who had some contact with the Presleys over the years, and there are objects she had given the family when they lived at Graceland which are displayed here. When we toured Graceland we heard no mention of this woman, but the Tupelo museum has an entire room devoted to her.

The museum has an enlarged photo of church members standing in front of the church Elvis' family belonged to, but the Presley family isn't in the photo. The church building itself is on the grounds:

and they have a video presentation of parts of a re-enactment of what they think the worship services were like when the Presleys belonged there, with imitation-child-Elvis singing during one part of it. The Daughter and I didn't like this part, both because we found it too long -much too long- and because we thought it a bit disrespectful somehow. We'd have preferred being able to just go into the building to see it without the drama.

We liked the life-sized statue of Elvis at 13:

and we thought the Fountain of Life was lovely:

The staff person who took our tickets at the house told us she had never been to Graceland and would never go there because she said their ticket prices were too high and she was afraid of crime in Memphis. We can't help but see her as being a bit precious with this. We wanted to tell her that for people interested in Elvis, Tupelo was skippable but Graceland was a must-see. In fact, we think having been to Graceland should be a job requirement for any birthplace site employee.

We were told this story of the birthplace site: In the mid-50s, Elvis found out his parents' old house was for sale, and he approached the Tupelo city fathers about buying it and turning the space into a park for the poorer kids who lived in that part of town. He donated the proceeds of 2 local concerts to the cause. We couldn't help but notice it's not a park at all suitable for children to play in. There's no playground equipment and no open space for play and nothing free to do except view a car that is similar to the one Elvis and his family drove when they moved from Tupelo to Memphis when Elvis was a child. We wonder how he would've felt about this use of property he specifically intended to benefit kids from his old neighborhood. Maybe he knew and approved this. I don't know. I can't find any information on whether or not it was actually turned into a park, and if so, when it was changed into the tourist attraction it now is.

Elvis' first public appearance (if you don't count church -which we personally do not count as a "performance" or "public appearance") was at the local fair, and they have a great statue in that park downtown (where there is playground equipment and open space) commemorating him:

All-in-all the Elvis sites were worth a day trip down from Memphis, but Graceland is the trip I would recommend.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

White Cup and Saucer

White Cup and Saucer:

is an 1864 painting by Henri Fantin-Latour who was born on January 14, 1836, and who died on this date in 1904. Wikipedia says he is "best known for his flower paintings and group portraits of Parisian artists and writers". According to Artcyclopedia, the Dixon Gallery here in Memphis has one of his works, Nature Morte (Still Life With Flowers), 1869:

You can see more of his work online here.

I have a couple of white cup and saucer sets, and drank out of this one to celebrate Tea Tuesday:

The pattern is Lenox Solitaire, and this is my good china.

Please check out the T(ea) party over at Bleubeard and Elizabeth's blog. Share a drink and see what folks are up to.

Monday, August 24, 2015

White Cotton Panties

White Cotton Panties:

by the Jumpin' Chi Chis.

lyrics excerpt:
I don't need no silk from China,
No nylon from France,
Just make it cotton, and make it white
When it comes to underpants.

Honey, if you wanna please me
Come love me every night
Don't wear nothin' red or black
I want you all in white.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Goddess

The Goddess is a 1934 silent Chinese film about the lot of a prostitute as she struggles to bring up her son. No matter how hard your life is, chances are it's not harder than the life of this woman.

via youtube:

SilentFilm.org has an essay describing the context of the film. TCM has an overview. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 100%.