Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Hunt for Red October

The Hunt for Red October is Tom Clancy's 1984 debut novel, a thriller made into a Sean Connery film in 1990. The film was faithful to the spirit of the book but was much simpler with many fewer sub-plots and plot elements. The book was enjoyable and an interesting, easy read.

from the back of the book:
Somewhere under the Atlantic, a Soviet sub commander has just made a fateful decision. The Red October is heading west.

The Americans want her. The Russians want her back. And the most incredible chase in history is on...

Here is the runaway bestseller that launched Tom Clancy's phenomenal career. A military thriller so gripping in its action and so convincing in its accuracy that the author was rumored to have been debriefed by the White House, Its theme: The greatest espionage coup in history. Its story: The chase for a top secret Russian missile sub. It's title: The Hunt for Red October.
Memphis Reads closes its review with this: "The story keeps the reader on edge from beginning to end, and gives an inside view of U.S. intelligence operations and executive decision making. Adventure readers are sure to enjoy this submarine drama." The Washington Post calls it "a tremendously enjoyable and gripping novel of naval derring-do".

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Courtesy Counts

Walking downtown recently, we saw this sign. Nearby we saw 2 examples that seem to illustrate the point. Instead of fussy "no littering" signs, someone has placed these:

We got such a kick out of this wonderfully courteous way of reminding people of how to be courteous.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Tamp & Tap

I had been to Tamp & Tap before (I had their espresso that time), but The Daughter had never been. Earlier this summer we went so she could see what it was like. We got pour over coffee, and The Daughter got raspberry biscotti:

We like their cups. This was the first time I've had pour over coffee out anywhere, and I must say it was as good as I had hoped. I'm seeing it on more menus lately, so I guess it's the new "thing". I'm on board with it! We sat on their patio people-watching. There was a woman parked around the corner unloading her car. We thought she might be moving into Van Vleet Flats. I think it would be great fun to live downtown. I'm not sure where the closest decent-sized grocery store would be, but that's the only drawback I can see to living downtown.

Please join the Tea Tuesday gathering hosted by Bleubeard and Elizabeth, where's there's talk of tisanes among a variety of other topics..

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Rich Man and the Poor Man

The Rich Man and the Poor Man:

by Bob Miller, native Memphian, who died on August 26 in 1955.

There's just two kind of people, the sinner and the saint;
There's one that gets and always got while the other poor one ain't.
Oh, the rich man drives his Lincoln past the red light with a grin,
And the poor man follows right behind in his little hunk of tin.
There's a motorcycle copper following upon their trail;
Oh, the rich man tears his ticket, but the poor man goes to jail.
Oh, the rich man takes the high road anywhere that he may go,
But when the poor man's travelin' he must always take the low.
So if you're rich you'll travel snug as peas are in the pod;
Oh, the rich man rides a cushion and the poor man rides the rods.

Oh, the rich man when he's ailing stays at home and calls the doc,
But the poor man has to go to work, be in time to punch a clock.
The rich man takes his medicine, has his doctors and his nurse;
So the rich man he gets better but the poor man he gets worse!

Oh, the rich man steals a million from the bank that he controls,
While the poor man steals a loaf of bread or a penny's worth of rolls.
They take them to the courthouse, one is laughing, one's in tears;
Oh, the rich man gets an apology while the poor man gets ten years!

Oh, the rich man gets a lawyer and the lawyer pleads his case,
While the poor man asks for sympathy but of that there is no trace.
So if you're rich don't worry but the poor must give up hope;
Oh, the rich man gets acquitted while the poor man gets the rope!

Oh, the rich man when he kicks off has a casket made of gold,
While the poor man has a wooden box and his grave looks mighty cold.
The rich man gets a sermon but here's one thing that's sure,
When the rich man takes that last long ride he's as much dead as the poor!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

300 (film)

300. Ah, 300. I had seen this film before, of course, but it's just such great fun watching all these nearly-naked warriors battle those whatever-they-are. I'll skip the sequel unless somebody puts in the DVD while I'm sitting here anyway.

In honor of the film, I share this "It's Raining 300 Men" tribute:

"We're in for one wild night."
ah oo! ah oo! ah oo!

or, if you just can't get enough, here's the full version:

lyrics excerpt:
It's raining men
It's raining men

I'm gonna go out
I'm gonna let myself get
Absolutely soaking wet

It's raining men
It's raining men
Every specimen

Tall, blonde, dark, and lean
Rough, and tough, and strong, and mean

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Robots in the Streets of Memphis

Literally in the street, painted on pedestrian crosswalks downtown.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The 10th Victim

The 10th Victim is a 1965 science fiction film, starring Marcello Mastroianni and Ursula Andress. It's an Italian/French co-production. from Wikipedia:
In the near future, big wars are avoided by giving individuals with violent tendencies a chance to kill in the Big Hunt. The Hunt is the most popular form of entertainment in the world and also attracts participants who are looking for fame and fortune. It includes ten rounds for each competitor, five as the hunter and five as the victim. The survivor of ten rounds becomes extremely wealthy and retires.
Incredibly dated, but the satire still works. The version embedded below is dubbed in English.

via Daily Motion:

Slant Magazine gives it 4 out of 5 stars, calls it "a pop-art melting pot," and says, "Elio Petri's trenchant social satire, co-written by the director and frequent Antonioni collaborator Tonino Guerra, takes aim at consumer capitalism and the society of the spectacle". DVD Talk calls it "a clever and insightful satire on modern morality and Western culture's fascination for violence." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 83%.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Open House

Open House is a 2000 novel by Elizabeth Berg. It was an Oprah book club choice. It was adapted for TV in 2003. The story is a sad one of a woman working her way through a difficult abandonment, but there's a happy ending filled with hope.

description from
Samantha's husband has left her, and after a spree of overcharging at Tiffany's, she settles down to reconstruct a life for herself and her eleven-year-old son. Her eccentric mother tries to help by fixing her up with dates, but a more pressing problem is money. To meet her mortgage payments, Sam decides to take in boarders. The first is an older woman who offers sage advice and sorely needed comfort; the second, a maladjusted student, is not quite so helpful. A new friend, King, an untraditional man, suggests that Samantha get out, get going, get work. But her real work is this: In order to emerge from grief and the past, she has to learn how to make her own happiness. In order to really see people, she has to look within her heart. And in order to know who she is, she has to remember--and reclaim--the person she used to be, long before she became someone else in an effort to save her marriage. Open House is a love story about what can blossom between a man and a woman, and within a woman herself.
selected quotes:
Divorce is a series of internal earthquakes, that's what it is, one after the other.
I was thinking that gratitude is too much absent in our lives now, and we need it back, even if it only takes the form of acknowledging the blue of a bowl against the red of cranberries.
You live your life, and you get to ask for things, and sometimes they are given to you.
I get out of bed and onto my knees, bow my head. Somewhere, a couple lie in bed together holding hands, and they will stay together until one of them dies. They will not hate each other over the breakfast table, they will give thanks for each other's presence. Somewhere that is true. This is my prayer.
There's an Elvis reference on page 64:
The man leans the bed frame gently against the wall, then extends his hand. "My name is King."
I laugh. "It is?"
"Honest to God. My parents were ... different."
"Well," I say. "I'm sorry for laughing. It's just, you know ... Graceland."
and a coffee reference I got a kick out of on page 71:
Now I sit with a fourth cup of coffee, feeling my heart beat too fast and not caring. Maybe this is a good way to kill yourself: an exuberant overdose of caffeine..."
Memphis Reads describes it as "a winsome and witty first-person narrative about a woman rediscovering herself, and finding, in turn, that there is indeed life and love after divorce." Kirkus Reviews closes by saying, "Skillfully crafted, with a fluidity and snap that will delight Berg's fans but, when all is said and done, a distressingly familiar story." Publishers Weekly opens their review with this: "A middle-aged woman asks herself if there's life after divorce, then answers with a resounding yes in another of Berg's gentle tales of female self-discovery."

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

National Civil Rights Museum

The Daughter and I had never been to The National Civil Rights Museum, even though I grew up in Memphis and was downtown when Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. For me it always seemed a hard thing -to tour the site where it happened. They've recently done a major renovation and added new exhibits, and it seemed like maybe it was time to explore the place.

Coming up towards the front of the museum:

There are stations with audio and video in front of the motel in the area where the swimming pool used to be. As you enter the motel the history begins with displays about Africans brought to North, Central and South America as slaves. Then there's an overview film.

The exhibits which cover the history of post-Civil War re-construction and Jim Crow laws in the South are detailed. They include full-sized statues, a bus like the one Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of (and which you can sit in), a lunch counter like the ones where the sit-ins took place, a re-creation of the cell in Birmingham where MLK served time and wrote the famous letter, photographs of children killed in bombings of churches.... There's really too much there to name. Suitable audio interpretation, actual historical recordings, and re-enactments accompany most exhibits. They permit non-flash photography, but my camera sometimes doesn't listen to me when I turn off the flash so I didn't risk it.

The museum continues through history until you reach the garbage strike which brought King to Memphis. You can view the room he stayed in and the room across the hall where others with him stayed. You can see outside to the balcony where he fell.

The tour is a powerful one.

Across the street is the Legacy Museum:

and that's the place the assassin shot from. You can see a re-creation of the room the killer rented there and the bathroom window he shot from. That's the creepiest part of the whole experience.

Here's an MSNBC report of the re-opening:

Here's a report on the origin and preservation of the motel and the beginnings of the museum that has images and video of some of the exhibits, including King's room and the view from the shooter's window:

This museum is well worth the trip. We spent 2 1/2 hours and could easily spend that much time again. It's a powerful and inspirational experience.

Across the street is an ongoing 26+ years protest:

She claims the museum glorifies King's killer and that the money should go to more directly help the poor. The money, of course, is not available for other purposes, having been donated and set aside specifically for this historical/interpretative/educational site. Ms. Jacqueline Smith did not live in the motel when MLK stayed there, moving there in the early 1970s, but she was the last resident of the motel and was evicted so the museum could be opened. She has strong convictions and is willing to share them with visitors.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sometimes Forever Is Too Long

... like when you go to a nice little restaurant named Petra Cafe, and they give you your drink in a styrofoam cup. That cup will be around as long or longer than the ancient city of Petra has been. Sheesh.

Petra Cafe is one of 4 cute little restaurants by that name, and this one in the Sanderlin Center is the closest one to us. The Daughter and I met The Husband there for lunch one day early in the summer. The styrofoam cups hit me hard for some reason, so I won't demean T Tuesday by mentioning the drinks. The Husband had the Pisa Paninni, and The Daughter and I each had the Turkey Pita:

The food was wonderful! I thought the red peppers were perfect! The waitress was welcoming and charming. You can see the lunch menu here. Our total was over $35. I've already decided what I want when we go back, but I may bring my own glass. (Not really, but I do hate styrofoam cups.)

Go Memphis has a positive review. Yelp gives it 5 out of 5 stars.

For dessert The Daughter and I headed back to Casablanca Cafe. We've eaten there before, but this time we specifically planned on having their Turkish Coffee and dessert. I had the baklava, and The Daughter had the chocolate mousse:

The desserts were both very tasty. I didn't much care for the coffee. It had flavoring of some sort, but we couldn't tell what. sweetening, of course, but something else, too. This Wikipedia article says cardamom or pistachio grains are sometimes used. Maybe that was it. It was interesting, and I'm glad I tried it, but I won't get that again.

T Tuesdays are a friendly gathering of women who drink (and most often craft) hosted at Bleubeard and Elizabeth's place. Feel free to join in. They make everybody feel welcome over there.