Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

T.S. Eliot began writing The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock in February of 1910 and first published it over 5 years later. You can read an annotated edition online here. Poor J. Alfred Prufrock longs to express his love, yet he does not dare.

This is one of those famous literary works that offers tea, including in this section:
And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep . . . tired . . . or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet—and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,

And in short, I was afraid.
How sad: the risk not taken, eternal regret.

Listen to Eliot reading it:

"I have measured out my life with coffee spoons."

Bleubeard and Elizabeth offer a way to connect with others on Tuesdays at this link at their blog.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The 100 Greatest SFF Novels of All Time

This Recording has a list of 100 SFF novels they say are the greatest of all time:
1. The Book of the Long Sun by Gene Wolfe
2. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein
3. The Dying Earth by Jack Vance
4. The Dispossessed by Ursula K. LeGuin
5. Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay
6. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
7. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
8. The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe
9. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin
10. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
11. Dune by Frank Herbert
12. Planet of Adventure by Jack Vance
13. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
14. All My Sins Remembered by Joe Haldeman
15. The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
16. The Master and the Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov (It's on my tbr stack.)
17. The Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay
18. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein
19. A Song of Ice And Fire by George R.R. Martin (I've read the first couple of books.)
20. The Fifth Head of Cerebus by Gene Wolfe
21. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
22. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
23. Lost Horizon by James Hilton
24. The Cadwal Chronicles by Jack Vance
25. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
26. 1984 by George Orwell
27. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
28. More Than Human by Theodore Sturgeon
29. Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov
30. A Fire Upon The Deep by Vernor Vinge
31. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
32. Citizen of the Galaxy by Robert Heinlein
33. The Hyperion Cantos by Dan Simmons
34. Ubik by Philip K. Dick
35. True Names by Vernor Vinge
36. Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein
37. Lyonesse by Jack Vance
38. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
39. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
40. Animal Farm by George Orwell
41. A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick
42. Farmer in the Sky by Robert Heinlein
43. Flatland by Edwin Abbott
44. The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
45. Alastor by Jack Vance
46. The Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson (I tried but couldn't make it through this series.)
47. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
48. The Demon Princes by Jack Vance
49. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand (I read Atlas Shrugged. That's enough Rand to last me.)
50. The Wizard Knight by Gene Wolfe
51. The Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin
52. Foundation by Isaac Asimov
53. The Forever War by Joe Haldeman
54. The Book of the Short Sun by Gene Wolfe
55. Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon (This is in my tbr stack.)
56. Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
57. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
58. Nightwings by Robert Silverberg
59. Forever Peace by Joe Haldeman
60. The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan (I read the first couple of books.)
61. The Book of Knights by Yves Maynard
62. Wildlife by James Patrick Kelly
63. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
64. At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft
65. A Song for Lya by George R.R. Martin
66. The High Crusade by Poul Anderson
67. The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson
68. The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov
69. Flow My Tears The Policeman Said by Philip K. Dick
70. The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
71. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
72. Maske: Thaery by Jack Vance
73. Old Man's War by John Scalzi
74. Schismatrix by Bruce Sterling
75. Ringworld by Larry Niven
76. Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke
77. Free Live Free by Gene Wolfe
78. Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan
79. Griffin's Egg by Michael Swanwick
80. Watership Down by Richard Adams
81. The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers
82. The Dragonriders of Pern by Anne McCaffrey
83. The Alteration by Kingsley Amis
84. Fevre Dream by George R.R. Martin
85. Sphere by Michael Crichton
86. A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter Miller
87. Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card
88. Song of Kali by Dan Simmons (on my tbr list)
89. Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner
90. Camp Concentration by Thomas Disch
91. Dhalgren by Samuel Delany
92. Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
93. An Evil Guest by Gene Wolfe
94. The Company by K.J. Parker
95. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
96. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
97. The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch
98. Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress
99. Sorcerer's Son by Phyllis Eisenstein
100. The Word For World Is Forest by Ursula K. LeGuin

The list is quite heavy on some authors (Wolfe and Vance, for example), a very idiosyncratic list. I've read 59 of these. Very few of the ones I haven't read are on my tbr radar.

via SF Signal

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Doomsday Machine

The Doomsday Machine (or Escape from Planet Earth) is a science fiction film. Production began in 1967, but the film wasn't completed until 1972. It was finished without the original actors or the original sets. As you can imagine, continuity errors abound. The ship is represented by something like 6 different images. Production quality is sad -or laughable depending on how you look at it. Sexism is rampant. These pitiful women are just helpless with anything except hair styles.

This is the first time I've ever seen throwing a cat to distract the guard dog as a way to infiltrate a military facility.

Grant Williams (The Incredible Shrinking Man) is one of the stars, though he doesn't get top billing. This was the last film released with him in it. Casey Kasem gets a co-starring credit. Mike Farrell is in the list of featured actors.

It takes them almost 30 minutes to get into space. And soon after:
Man: "Why don't you relax and enjoy it."

Woman, after passionate kiss: "You're very forceful, aren't you."

Man: "Do I need force?"

Woman: "I was talking about vibration."

Man: "Oh. How are yours doing?"
Oh, my.

The plot has a lot of these awkward sexual encounters, some more tasteless than others.

And there are unstable, screaming astronauts. You'd think those types would get screened out of the program.

from Wikipedia:
A spy discovers that the Chinese government has created a doomsday device capable of destroying the Earth, and it will be activated in 72 hours. Soon after, Astra –a two year return mission to Venus by the United States Space Program– has its time of launch sped up and half of the male flight crew are replaced by women shortly before take-off. Shortly before blastoff military alerts are put into effect.

via youtube:

Million Monkey Theater opens their review with this: "If there was ever a crappy, grade-z sci-fi stinker whose murky and bastardized provenance has been beat to death with the snarkystick, it's this film" and then provides a lengthy and snarky plot description. Stomp Tokyo closes its review saying, "Misery, of course, always loves company, so if you choose to seek out Doomsday Machine, I cannot stop you, but I felt that for the sake of my immortal soul, I had to at least try." DVD Talk says, "Hard-core science fiction movie fans should try and muster up the courage to experience Doomsday Machine at least once. All others will find it stupefyingly dull". Rotten Tomatoes has no critics score, but the audience rating is 5%. That's not a typo- the audience score is 5%.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Whom the Gods Love

Whom the Gods Love by Kate Ross is one of the Julian Kestrel mysteries. The action takes place in Regency-era England. There will be no more in this series, as the author died of breast cancer in 1998 at the age of 41.

Historical fiction was a favorite of mine in junior high and high school (favorite authors were Thomas B. Costain and James Michener), but I haven't read much in that genre since. I picked up 2 of Kate Ross' Kestrel books in a used book store because she had won the Agatha Award for 1 of them. I enjoyed the setting, characters and writing, and I'll be on the look-out for the other 2 in this series.

from the back of the book:
Alexander Falkland hasn't an enemy in the world. Young, talented, and charming, he shines in every field he enters: law, architecture, the investment market. But one night his luck runs out with a vengeance. In the midst of one of his famous parties, he is found in his study with his head smashed, a blood-stained poker beside him. No wonder the inscription on his gravestone reads: Whom the Gods Love Die Young.

When the Bow Street Runners fail to solve the crime, Alexander's distraught father turns to Julian Kestrel, elegant dandy and intrepid amateur sleuth. Soon Kestrel is up to his ears in suspects -and enigmas. Who was Alexander really? Social reformer or butterfly, devoted husband or rake? Kestrel must peel off one mask after another, until at last he discovers an Alexander no one knew -except, perhaps, the killer.
favorite quotes:
"I'm inclined to think," said Julian slowly, "that people are responsible for themselves. I know a father's influence is far-reaching. I'm very much the product of my own father's upbringing. But I think, as Shelley said, a man must rule the empire of himself. ..."
Kirkus Reviews calls it "An 1825 remake of Death on the Nile, with enough time for red herrings and subplots aplenty".

I have also read the 4th one: The Devil in Music.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

The Lone Gun

The Lone Gun is one of many little-known westerns from the 50s. This one stars Dorothy Malone and George Montgomery, so it's not lacking in star power. Montgomery was an interesting man with diverse interests. In addition to acting, he was a skilled wood-worker who ran a furniture business. He was also a self-taught sculptor who worked with bronze. He died in 2000 at age 84. I first saw Dorothy Malone with Humphrey Bogart in The Big Sleep. Her last film was Basic Instinct in 1992, but she's still alive, so maybe she'll appear in another film yet. Frank Faylen is also here. I remember him best from the Dobie Gillis tv show. He played Dobie Gillis' long-suffering dad. (I watched that show for beatnik Maynard G. Krebbs.)

onscreen as the movie starts:
The history of any frontier region... such as the great expanses of the new state of Texas.... offered many examples of the strange way in which a few men of great evil could dominate whole communities of well-meaning but passive citizens...

...And examples, too, of men of a different breed... men who rode out alone for law and order with badges on their vests and handcuffs in their pockets... playing a lone gun against great odds.

via youtube:

The Stalking Moon reports it as considered one of Montgomery's best.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Bluff City Coffee

The Daughter and I walked down to Bluff City Coffee on one of our downtown excursions. They have food there (menus online), but we had just eaten lunch so weren't hungry. We had coffee instead. She had an Americano, and I had a double espresso:

Their espresso is very good. I couldn't have asked for better. They had nice seating inside, but we sat outside it was such a pretty day.

A couple passed by, and the man commented that we had been seeing each other all over downtown that day. He asked me where we were from, and I said, "Here!" He laughed. I think we look like tourists when we take pictures of everything. While The Daughter and I were sitting at our table we watched a man taking pictures. Then we saw another man take a picture of him while he was taking a picture. Then I took a picture of the both of them while they were taking their pictures:

We were all 3 documenting photography in Memphis. I lost sight of the 2nd photographer, but the 1st one got into a car with Shelby County tags, so my guess is we were all local. Fun!

The Memphis Foodie blog likes this coffee shop. The I Love Memphis blog has instructions for making their brownies. Yelp gives Bluff City Coffee 4 out of 5 stars with 48 reviews. Urban Spoon gives them a score of 92% with 105 votes.

Join the others at Bleubeard and Elizabeth's link haven for T-Tuesday.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Going Back to Memphis

Going Back to Memphis:

by the Memphis Jug Band, a jazz band featuring jug and kazoo that was active from the mid-1920s through the late 1950s.

I'm leaving here, mama, don't you wanna go
I'm leaving here, mama, don't you wanna go
Because I'm sick and tired of all this ice and snow

When I get back to Memphis, you can bet I'll stay
When I get back to Memphis, you can bet I'll stay
And I ain't gonna leave until that judgment day

I love old Memphis, the place where I was born
I love old Memphis, the place where I was born
Wear my box-back suit, and drink my bottle of corn

I wrote my gal a letter, way down in Tennessee
I wrote my gal a letter, way down in Tennessee
Told her I was up here hungry, hurry up and send for me

I'm gonna walk and walk 'til I walk out all my shoes
I'm gonna walk and walk 'til I walk out all my shoes
Because I've got what they call them leaving here blues

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Cancer Sucks!

Specifically non-Hodgkins Lymphoma sucks. I don't have it, but a family member does, and the fact that it's curable is the only bright spot. Admittedly, that's a hugely blindingly bright bright spot! It's a shame when you have a cure that makes you feel worse before it cures you, but it's such a blessing that it does cure you. We're feeling extremely grateful for that right now.

An online chapel with a 20-minute guided contemplative prayer video is here at ContemplativePrayer.net. Sometimes I find it helpful.

Oddly, I keep worrying about how I'm going to keep Mother from finding out. Since Mother died about 4 months ago, this makes no sense at all.