Thursday, July 20, 2017

Critical Thinking

Today is International Chess Day. Chess is a game that requires the ability to think critically and logically.

Today is also the anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

The connection between these two things may not be obvious, but in these days of wild-eyed conspiracy theorists who spread crazy tales folks just believe because they "trust the source"... Well, I'd just like to say that yes, people have landed on the moon. I understand confirmation bias and realize that the more evidence that's provided the more people cling to their tin foil hat opinions, but I do wish our culture was more supportive of critical thinking and less willing to accept whatever we're being fed by the talking heads and the raving talk radio loons.

There are free resources online that are useful in learning about logic and critical thinking and in developing skills in those areas., the University of Michigan, and Wikipedia have good overviews and are good places to start.

Wikihow has some clear steps to take to develop your critical thinking skills:

Method 1 Honing Your Questioning Skills
1 Question your assumptions.
2 Don't take information on authority until you've investigated it yourself.
3 Question things.

Method 2 Adjusting Your Perspective
1 Understand your own biases.
2 Think several moves ahead.
3 Read great books.
4 Put yourself in other peoples' shoes.
5 Set aside at least 30 minutes a day to improve your brain function.

Method 3 Putting It All Together
1 Understand all your options.
2 Surround yourself with people smarter than you.
3 Fail until you succeed. offers a "cheat sheet" of questions to ask to evaluate information:

I'm tired of hearing, "I don't have time to research this, but I trust the source and I do have time to spread it all over Facebook," and "Where there's smoke there's fire," and "Many people say this is true." Think, people! Think!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A Nightmare on Elm Street

A Nightmare on Elm Street is a 1984 horror film, first in a long-running franchise. I had never seen it before, and I've never seen any of the sequels. Freddy Krueger, with his knife-like fingers, comes in your dreams. There's no escape. It is directed by Wes Craven and stars John Saxon and Robert Englund. This was Johnny Depp's screen debut. He has a major role as the boyfriend of our heroine. A good movie with an interesting ending, this is definitely worth watching for several reasons.

The NYT has a review from the time of the film's release that says, "puts more emphasis on bizarre special effects, which aren't at all bad." Moria gives it 4 out of 5 stars and says, "Wes Craven evinces a genuine wildness to the visions he unleashes". 1000 Misspent Hoursalso gives it 4 out of 5 stars and has a detailed plot description. has some screen shots.

Empire Online says,
Craven based the whole thing on a true story. The film stemmed from a series of articles in an LA paper about a group of Southeast Asian kids, all from the same neighbourhood, who died mysteriously in their sleep after a string of vivid nightmares. They probably weren't massacred by a stiletto-fingered sicko in a rugby shirt. But even so,
Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 94%.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Reading Sailor

Reading Sailor (1980):

by Yannis Tsarouchis, a Greek painter who died on July 20, 1989, at age 79.

I won't be around for the T Stands for Tuesday blog gathering today, but I am scheduling a drink-related post in case anybody happens by.

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Redbreast

The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo is the 3rd book in the Harry Hole detective series. I'll pick up more as I come across them. I'm enjoying the characters and writing so far.

from the back of the book:
Detective Harry Hole embarrassed the force, and for his sins he's been reassigned to mundane surveillance tasks. But while monitoring neo-Nazi activities in Oslo, Hole is inadvertantly drawn into a mystery with deep roots in Norway's dark past -when members of the nation's government willingly collaborated with Nazi Germany. More than sixty years later, this black mark won't wash away,
and disgraced old soldiers who once survived a brutal Russian winter are being murdered, one by one. Now, with only a stained and guilty conscience to guide him, an angry, alcoholic, error-prone policeman must make his way safely past the traps and mirrors of a twisted criminal mind.
For a hideous conspiracy is rapidly taking shape around Hole -and Norway's darkest hour may still be to come.
The Washington Post calls it
a fine novel, ambitious in concept, skillful in execution and grown-up in its view of people and events. In important ways it's also a political novel, one concerned with the threat of fascism, in Norway and by implication everywhere. All in all, "The Redbreast" certainly ranks with the best of current American crime fiction.
The New York Times describes it as "an elegant and complex thriller".

I've also read the first 2 books in this series:
The Bat

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day is a 2008 romantic comedy based on a book I enjoyed. Oddly enough, I like this movie even better. It stars Frances McDormand, Amy Adams, Ciarán Hinds, and Lee Pace.


The New York Times calls it "an example of how a little nothing of a story can be inflated into a little something of a movie with perfect casting, dexterous tonal manipulation and an astute eye and ear for detail." The Chicago Tribune opens a positive review with this: "bright, frothy slice of comic delight in the old-school style, "Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day" proves that they can make them like they used to, if only they try." Empire Online gives it 4 out of 5 stars and says it's "A charming 1930s Cinderella meets Sex And The City, only faster, funnier and male-friendly, with some depths in its subtler observations of morality."

Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 77%.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Orphan Master's Son

The Orphan Master's Son is a 2012 novel by Adam Johnson. It's an interesting view of North Korea for me. I don't recall ever having read a novel that took place there, and all I know of the country is what I see in the news. This adds a more personal perspective.

from the back of the book:
Pak Jun Do is the haunted son of a lost mother -a singer "stolen" to Pyongyang- and an influential father who runs a work camp for orphans. Superiors in the North Korean state soon recognize the boy's loyalty and keen instincts. Considering himself "a humble citizen of the greatest nation in the world," Jun Do rises in the ranks. He becomes a professional kidnapper who must navigate the shifting rules, arbitrary violence, and baffling demands of his overlords in order to stay alive. Driven to the absolute limit of what any human being could endure, he boldly takes on the treacherous role of rival to Kim Jun Il in an attempt to save the woman he loves, Sun Moon, a legendary actress "so pure, she didn't know what starving people looked like."

In this epic, critically acclaimed tour de force, Adam Johnson provides a riveting portrait of a world rife with hunger, corruption, and casual cruelty but also camaraderie, stolen moments of beauty, and love.
There's a 42 in this book, though it's not the answer to anything:
We were finalizing a month-long interrogation of a professor from Kaesong when a rumor spread through the building that Commander Ga had been apprehended and was here, in custody, in our own Division 42.
It would've been easy to get the professor to confess, but that's not us, we don't work that way. You see, Division 42 is really two divisions.
In this book Division 42 is a place for torture. No useful answers at all come from such a place.

This meets one of my reading challenges, as it won a fairly recent Pulitzer Prize. Reviews are positive.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Links to Exercise Plans

Exercise With Dumbbells Symbol clip art

I'm continuing to gather resources, although I find myself remembering enough exercises to make up a routine without using any of them as I exercise. I continue to do yoga every day and weight training 3 days a week. I wish I could afford a personal trainer, but I'm grateful for the information freely available online. has an illustrated list of 10 that provide a whole body workout (though I don't do the last one at all) that is very doable and includes instructions for increasing the difficulty level as you are able. They also have a 30-minute whole body exercise plan. It's 16 steps, and I don't do #s 14 or 15. has an exercise plan that's easy to do and helpful in strengthening the whole body. There are 15 exercises in the series, and they include some old favorites like the bridge and the pelvic tilt and squats and some I'd never done before. has lists of appropriate exercises for people with osteoporosis. They are divided into ability levels and most -but not all- have links to instructions. There are numerous videos demonstrating the exercises she recommends at her Youtube channel.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Streets of Crocodiles

Streets of Crocodiles is a 1986 stop motion animation (mixed with live action) short film directed by the Brothers Quay and based on a short story written by Bruno Schultz. Heavily metaphorical, Wikipedia describes the plot this way:
A man closes up a lecture hall; he reaches into a box and snips the string holding a gaunt puppet. Released, the puppet warily explores the darkened rooms about him. The desolate ambience and haunting musical score are meant to convey a sense of isolation and futility. As the short continues, the mute protagonist explores a realm of what are described by the director as "mechanical realities and manufactured pleasures". As the protagonist chooses to join this world, the camera slowly reveals how unfulfilling the surroundings actually are.

via Youtube:

Senses of Cinema says,
The Street of Crocodiles both recovers and mocks childhood, and our adult memories of childhood, in a grotesque, fetishistic manner, raising questions about the relationship between animation, modernity and the child’s place within this inanimate, inhuman world of technological progress. These processes of the organic and non-organic object relate directly to the technicality of the animated form within cinema and film theory’s often blind refusal to recognise that animation, in its broadest sense, captures not only the essence of the uncanny in film but the essence of the cinematic apparatus. ... The fragmentary nature of The Street of Crocodiles inevitably causes some difficulty in adequately describing its intertwining æsthetic and formal aspects. Yet it is the fragmentary nature of human development, memory and language that reflects the fragmentary world. ...

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Crimson Peak

Crimson Peak is a 2015 Gothic romance directed by Guillermo del Toro. This won some awards, and I'm glad I saw it. That said, there are so many brilliant films out there and this isn't one of them. I'm thinking this is one of those fun flights that don't become staples in my library.


The New York Times says, "If you know what you’re getting into and you’re in the mood for blood, velvet and a director’s sincere commitment to excess, then this might be just the ticket." Rolling Stone gives it 2.5 out of 4 stars and says the director's "visionary style is again readily apparent in Crimson Peak, a ghost story in which superior camerawork, costumes and production design work together to put the audience in a trance." The Atlantic says, "its swooning emotion is consistent if nothing else, and builds to a marvelous crescendo with the final showdown, both in terms of thrills and pathos."

Roger Ebert's site gives it 4 out of 4 stars and says
He creates intricate worlds, overwhelming viewers with detail and drowning them with symbolism. The fact that most of what is onscreen is physical, rather than computer-generated, helps. "Crimson Peak's" atmosphere crackles with sexual passion and dark secrets. There are a couple of monsters (supernatural and human), but the gigantic emotions are the most terrifying thing onscreen.
Rotten Tomatoes gives it a critics' rating of 71%.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Tea Time

Tea Time:

is a painting by painter/sculptor Louise Abbéma (10/30/1853-7/10/1927). You can see more of her work online at The Athenaeum web site. The glbtq arts web site says she was "one of the most successful women artists of her day". ArtsExperts says, "She was a regular exhibitor at the Paris Salon and the State recognized her artistic talent by awarding her the Legion of Honor in 1906. She also exhibited in Chicago in 1893." ArtNet says she "achieved her first great success as a young painter in 1876, when she exhibited a portrait of her friend, the actress Sarah Bernhardt."

This woman looks quite prim and proper to me, but I think she would give the dog a treat.

Please join the weekly T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering hosted by Bleubeard and Elizabeth. We share a beverage of some sort, and you'll be warmly welcomed.