Monday, March 31, 2014

Rocket 88

Rocket 88:



Recorded in 1951 at Memphis' Sun Studio, it was credited to Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats, who were actually Ike Turner's Kings of Rhythm. This is the first ever rock 'n' roll record.

lyrics:
You women have heard of jalopies,
You heard the noise they make,
Well, let me introduce my new Rocket '88.
Yes it's straight, just won't wait,
Everybody likes my Rocket '88.
Baby will ride in style,
Movin' all along.

V-8 motor and this modern design,
Black convertible top and the gals don't mind
Sportin' with me, ridin' all around town for joy.

Blow your horn, Raymond, blow!

Step in my Rocket and don't be late,
Baby, we're pullin' out about half past eight.
Goin' round the corner and get a fifth
Everybody in my car's gonna take a little nip.
Ooh, goin' out,
Boozin' and cruisin' along.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Death Race

Death Race is a 2008 Paul Anderson-directed science fiction action film starring Jason Statham. It's a remake (or perhaps prequel, depending on who you ask) of Death Race 2000. This is a fun-enough action movie. Jason Statham is always worth watching, and his character here is a wrongly convicted doting dad, which is a nice touch. The action is steady with plenty of car chases and resultant explosions, but that action is about all there is.

trailer:



Moria doesn't like it but has some praise for Statham and Joan Allen, who plays the warden. SF Gate pans it, comparing it unfavorably to the original. Empire Online gives it 3 out of 5 stars and concludes, "It’s nothing more than an enjoyable, ridiculously macho B-movie romp, but it’s Anderson’s best movie since the underrated Event Horizon". EW gives it a B+ and says, "Soft sexual and racial jabs replace the more daring political commentary of the original, ... That was the anarchic '70s, baby; this is the conservative now". Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 43%.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Dog Sculpture


I saw this sculpture downtown but saw no plaque or any indication of who placed it there or who the artist was. I got a kick out of seeing these playful puppies.

Free parking is harder to find downtown than it used it be. Lately, I've given up looking and started parking here:


It's called Parking Can Be Fun, which I'm not buying, but it is fun to see a business make an effort to be a bit different.


The garage is centrally located and easy to get in and out of.

Friday, March 28, 2014

King Kong (1933)

The Husband is having some health issues lately and has taken comfort in some old movie favorites. Thus: King Kong, the original 1933 monster movie/love story. This has always been one of his favorites, but it's been a while since I watched it. It never gets old.

trailer:


Moria opens by calling it "perhaps the greatest of all fantasy films, it is certainly the greatest monster movie ever made." 1000 Misspent Hours says, "The most important thing to keep in mind about King Kong is what a revolutionary movie it was." DVD Talk says, "I hold no grudge whatsoever against Peter Jackson's 2005 remake but there's no substitute for an original work of popular art -the '33 Kong is the one that activates the subconscious, stirs one's imagination and remains a masterpiece of spectacle, horror and adventure." Classic-Horror.com says,
One of the outstanding things about King Kong is that it truly and successfully has something for everyone. It has at least a little bit of everything—action, adventure, horror, sci-fi, drama, love, even humor—and they somehow combine well despite the disparity. ... There are few films that everyone should see, but this is one of them.
Senses of Cinema says, "The continuing success of King Kong is due not only to its spectacular special effects, but also to the exemplary economy with which the filmmakers handled the screenplay, filming and editing." Empire Online calls it a "collossus of a film" and "a brilliantly structured adventure movie". Time Out praises "the remarkable technical achievements of Willis O'Brien's animation work, and the superbly matched score of Max Steiner." FilmSite.org has quite a lot of information, including a lengthy description of the plot. Roger Ebert considers it a "great movie" and says,
But "King Kong" is more than a technical achievement. It is also a curiously touching fable in which the beast is seen, not as a monster of destruction, but as a creature that in its own way wants to do the right thing. Unlike the extraterrestrial spiders in the "Alien" pictures, which embody single-minded aggression, Kong cares for his captive human female, protects her, attacks only when provoked, and would be perfectly happy to be left alone on his Pacific Island. It is the greed of a Hollywood showman that unleashes Kong's rage...
Rotten Tomatoes gives it a critics score of 98%.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

When We Were Orphans


When We Were Orphans is a novel by Kazuo Ishiguro. Not judged his best book, it was still shortlisted for the 2000 Man Booker Prize. It's considered a detective story, and I'm shelving my copy with my mysteries.

Reading some authors is to me like sitting in a row boat and going down the river. I'm swept along gently by his prose. I think this author is especially good at foreshadowing that doesn't give away too much.

from the back of the book:
Renowned London detective Christopher Banks was born in Shanghai at the beginning of the twentieth century, and lived there relatively happily until he was orphaned by the disappearance of his father and mother. Now, more than twenty years after leaving Shanghai, he is a celebrated figure in London society; yet the criminal expertise that has garnered him fame has done little to illuminate his understanding of the circumstances of his parents' alleged kidnappings. Banks travels back to the seething, labyrinthine city of his memory in hopes of recovering all he has lost, only to find that the Sino-Japanese war is ravaging Shanghai beyond recognition - and that his own recollections are proving as difficult to trust as the people around him. Masterfully suspenseful and psychologically acute, When We Were Orphans offers a profound meditation on the shifting quality of memory, and the possibility of avenging one's past.
Kirkus Reviews ends its review by saying,
Elegiac, meditative, ultimately emotionally devastating, and the purest expression yet of the author’s obsessive theme: the buried life unearthed by its contingent interconnection with the passions, secrets, and priorities of unignorable other lives.
The Guardian says, "The single problem with the book is the prose, which, for the first time, is so lacking in local colour as to be entirely inappropriate to the task in hand. One can't only admire a book's structure."

Salon.com closes with this:
The reason to read the book is Ishiguro’s gorgeous, perhaps matchless, prose. And that’s more than enough until (maybe with his next novel) Ishiguro manages to build a fictional vessel that can contain his formidable command of both the architectonic and the surreal.
There's a reading group guide here.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Hell-Fire Austin

Hell-Fire Austin is a 1932 Western starring Ken Maynard. It's only about an hour long, and how can you resist a horse named "Tarzan"? It's a bit cute for my tastes and I'm not a fan of singing cowboys, but still, there's a horse called "Tarzan"!

via youtube:


Online reviewers have pretty much ignored it, but that's not uncommon for Westerns this old.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Makin' Coffee

Makin' Coffee:



an Allan Sherman song parody of Makin' Whoopee.

Lyrics excerpt:
Each weekday morning at 10:15
I see my favorite vending machine
It stands there waitin' and percolatin'
Just makin' coffee
...
I never get coffee from vending machines these days. Are there still coffee vending machines around? I can't remember the last time I saw one, much less one that had a tea option. (Vending machine hot tea was dreadful!) Now coffee seems readily available in carafes on hot plates, and the vending machines have soft drinks and bottled water. And tea? Never!

These days I hear more talk of the best way to make coffee so that the flavor is enhanced, the best quality coffee, the best machine for making coffee or grinding beans, etc. And with tea, I hear talk of the highest quality leaf and the best blends. Sometimes I think the coffee and tea of my youth is lost. If vending machine coffee/tea is an example of what was typical back in the day, that may be a blessing!

Enjoy your beverage of choice (whether from a vending machine or not) with the tea-partiers hosted by Bleubeard and Elizabeth.

Monday, March 24, 2014

My Babe

My Babe:



sung by Mississippi Fred McDowell, who moved to Memphis as a young man in 1926 and died here in 1972 at age 68. This is a performance from late in his life.

lyrics:
My baby don't stand no cheatin'
My baby don't stand no cheatin'
My babe she don't stand no cheatin'

My babe, she says she loves me
My baby says she loves me
Says she loves me

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Kakuryu wins his first sumo tournament!

Kakuryu has won!

Here's the bout that did it for him, from Jason's All-Sumo Youtube channel:


Mainichi opens with this: "OSAKA (Kyodo) -- Kakuryu defeated rival ozeki Kotoshogiku to capture his first career championship on the final day of the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament Sunday, defying the odds to all but secure his promotion to sumo's highest rank of yokozuna." Asia & Japan Watch says, "One of the keys to Kakuryu’s recent success has been his face-off--calm and focused. Against Kotoshogiku, Kakuryu put that new attack on display, absorbing his opponent’s onslaught and keeping his cool". from The Japan News: "Chances are high Kakuryu will be promoted to yokozuna ... If Kakuryu, 28, receives the promotion, he will be the third active Mongolian-born yokozuna and fourth overall."

Happy in Memphis



Yes!

locations pictured in the video:
Rendezvous Alley
Gibson’s Donuts in East Memphis
The Pyramid
Beale Street Landing
Binghampton Park
Autozone Park
Trolley tracks downtown
Caritas Village
Mural outside Double J Smokehouse
Brookhaven Circle
Jerry’s Sno Cones
Gus’s downtown
Levitt Shell
Sun Studio
“I love Memphis” mural in Cooper Young
Tiger Lane at Liberty Bowl Stadium
Huey’s Midtown
Brooks Museum of Art
Shelby Farms – Woodland Discovery Playground
Peabody roof
Harding Academy (East Memphis and Cordova locations)

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Cotton Museum


The Daughter and I had neither one been to the Cotton Museum. It opened back in 2006 and provides historical and cultural exhibits, including displays in glass cases, videos which explore the history and influence of the cotton industry, and features that were present in the original Cotton Exchange. It's not a large museum, and we toured it in less than an hour, but it was definitely worth the visit.

The photo from Wikipedia shows more of the building that my photo does:


You can see photos of some of the exhibits and hear an overview here:


Tennessee Crossroads explored this museum:



Cotton was King, and understanding it's place in the city's history is important to an understanding of the city itself.

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Woman in the Dunes

The Woman in the Dunes is a 1964 Japanese film based on the book by Kobo Abe. Hiroshi Teshigahara directs. He was nominated for an Oscar for best director but lost to Robert Wise (The Sound of Music). It stars Eiji Okada (Hiroshima mon amour) and Kyōko Kishida. This film won the Special Jury Prize at Cannes. This is a fascinating movie -thought-provoking. It's a picture of people trapped in a life, in this case physically trapped, and what their different responses are. It's a beautiful film to watch. Sand doesn't often receive such careful visual treatment. The sound track by legendary composer Toru Takemitsu is the perfect complement to the picture.

Part 1 is here at youtube, where embedding is disabled. Part 2 is here.

Here's a trailer:


Suna no onna (Woman in the Dunes) - Trailer by The_Astounding_Dr_Wollmen

Time Out calls it "a tour de force of visual style, and a knockout as an unusually cruel thriller". Chicago Reader says it's "A bizarre film, distinguished ... by Teshigahara's arresting visual style of extreme depth of focus, immaculate detail, and graceful eroticism." Roger Ebert has it on his list of "Great Movies" and says, "Unlike some parables that are powerful the first time but merely pious when revisited, "Woman in the Dunes” retains its power because it is a perfect union of subject, style and idea." It has a critics rating of 100% at Rotten Tomatoes.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Fairly Honourable Defeat


A Fairly Honourable Defeat is a 1970 Iris Murdoch novel. I've liked all her novels that I've read so far, so it's not surprising that I like this one. This book focuses on relationships and the ease with which they can be disrupted. Some people are heartless and some are stupid. Life is good; or is it? The story is told through dialog; there's not much description.

from the back of the book:
Rupert and Hilda are perfectly matched.

Their only worries are a drop-out son and Morgan, Hilda's unstable sister, just back from America.

Enter Julius, Morgan's ex-lover, determined to give Rupert and Hilda's seemingly impregnable marriage a mild jolt. He finds an unexpectedly spirited opponent in Morgan's husband, Tallis...

This is a tale of the struggle between two demonic beings, one good, one evil. The evil one wins, but the defeat of the good is a fairly honourable one...
The Guardian says this book "marvellously retells the story of Much Ado About Nothing with a modern-day Christ and Satan added, in South Kensington."

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Rio Conchos

Rio Conchos is a 1964 Western starring Stuart Whitman, Richard Boone, Jim Brown, Edmund O'Brien and Tony Franciosa. The music is by the prolific Jerry Goldsmith. Director Gordon Douglas, who began his film career as a child actor, has directoral credits from 1934 to 1977. This is another fine Western. Why are there so many good Westerns I've never heard of? Sad. But discovering them is fun.

via youtube:


DVD Talk says, "Rio Conchos on the surface may look like a mid-sized studio Western with second-tier stars, but it's surprising hefty when it comes to mixing ideas and action." TCM has an overview. It has a 40% critics rating at Rotten Tomatoes.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Truly Evil


Evil characters have always populated the literary world, but some stand out. My choice for a real stand-out, beyond the pale, truly evil character is Dolores Umbridge from the Harry Potter series. A more cruel, self-righteous piece of work would be hard to name. She is humorless, delights in torturing others, is cowardly, and has no -and I really mean no- redeeming qualities.

She does drink tea, but we won't hold that against the tea, surely, any more than we'll hold her attraction to cats against the cats.

Here are video clips from some of her scenes, but you have to watch the movie The Order of the Phoenix and see her wickedness unfold through the film to appreciate the depth of her depravity:



Let's join Bleubeard and Elizabeth for tea and leave Umbridge out of our fellowship, shall we?

The photo at the top of the post is from the Harry Potter Wiki.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Spring Comes to the Botanic Gardens



There was no sun and it was a bit breezy, but it was warm enough to venture forth in search of Spring! The Memphis Botanic Gardens provided hope that the season was headed for change. The daffodils above and the star magnolia below looked cheery.


The fish seem more active as the weather warms. It won't be long now they'll let us start feeding them again. It's too early for that still.


The Daughter and I had a nice afternoon wandering around the grounds. I always enjoy time spent at these gardens.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Demon Tree


I had been wanting a picture of this tree for some time and finally had a chance to get one when The Daughter was with me in the car.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Bunker Palace Hotel

Bunker Palace Hotel is a 1989 French post-apocalyptic film directed by Enki Bilal, better known for his 2004 film Immortal. In movies, that is. Apparently he's really known as a graphic artist, but I'm not familiar with that field. This movie is not what you'd call "action-packed" but is definitely worth watching.

via youtube:


Moria concludes, "What you could accuse Bunker Palace Hotel of being is a film with a fascinating background in which nothing interesting happens." Quiet Earth says "it makes for a wholly original viewing experience." FilmJournal.net says it is "never less than intriguing" and "Certainly worth tracking". Films de France opens with this: "This is a stunningly imaginative film with a strong vein or two of distinctly black comedy, offering a disturbingly credible vision of a future world." Rotten Tomatoes has no critic reviews, and the audience score is 50%.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

One for the Money


One for the Money is the first in the Stephanie Plum mystery series by Janet Evanovich. Wikipedia describes them as "a light-hearted series of mysteries starring barely competent bounty hunter Stephanie Plum". This was fun, mindless entertainment, and I'll certainly read more from the series as I come across them. Since there are 21 so far and the author is still writing them, I'm set for reading material for some time to come.

from the back of the book:
ONE FINE MESS

Welcome to Trenton, New Jersey, home to wiseguys, average Joes, and Stephanie Plum, who sports a big attitude and even bigger money problems (since losing her job as a lingerie buyer for a department store). Stephanie needs cash-fast-but times are tough, and soon she's forced to turn to the last resort of the truly desperate: family...

ONE FALSE MOVE

Stephanie lands a gig at her sleazy cousin Vinnie's bail bonding company. She's got no experience. But that doesn't matter. As does the fact that the bail jumper in question is local vice cop Joe Morelli. From the time he first looked up her dress to the time he first got into her pants, to the time Steph hit him with her father's Buick, M-o-r-e-l-l-i has spelled t-r-o-u-b-l-e. And now the hot guy is in hot water-wanted for murder...

ONE FOR THE MONEY

Abject poverty is a great motivator for learning new skills, but being trained in the school of hard knocks by people like psycho prizefighter Benito Ramirez isn't. Still, if Stephanie can nab Morelli in a week, she'll make a cool ten grand. All she has to do is become an expert bounty hunter overnight-and keep herself from getting killed before she gets her man...
It's been adapted for film to negative reviews. I won't be looking for the movie.

Kirkus Reviews closes with this: "A smartly paced debut with an irresistible heroine who, despite trouble getting her man, will have readers hooked by page three. Trenton is about to become the comic mystery's most improbable hot spot."

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Don't Come Knocking

Don't Come Knocking is a 2005 Wim Wenders film about a Western film actor who rides off on a horse from the movie set seeking some meaning for his life. He's followed by an agent of the company insuring the film. It stars Sam Shepard, Jessica Lange, Tim Roth and Eva Marie Saint. I'm glad I've seen it but won't watch it again. Male mid-life crisis, much angst... just not my thing, I guess.

via youtube:



Slant Magazine gives it 2 out of 4 stars, condemning it as "just another male menopause movie, marred by unlikely dialogue and hokey theatrical symbolism." DVD Talk describes it as "120 minutes of uneventful storytelling." Bright Lights Film Journal compares it unfavorably to Wenders' early films and says,
Wenders has a great visual eye, and the look of the film can't be overpraised: ... The clean, pristine images from cinematographer Frantz Lutzig of these settings are magnificent — but if only Wenders had trusted his visual strengths and dispensed with the redundant, wordier parts of his screenplay.
Spirituality and Practice says, "Don't Come Knocking has the quirky characters we've come to expect and relish in a movie directed by Wim Wenders." Roger Ebert concludes, ""Don't Come Knocking" finally doesn't work for me, because instead of embodying its themes it seems to be regarding them from outside, with awe, as if it is the high school production of itself." It was not popular with critics and has a critics score of 42% at Rotten Tomatoes.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Douglas Adams' Birthday

via Tsaiera Blog

I never (well, now I'll have to say, "almost never") observe the birthdays of people who have died. I prefer to observe the anniversary of the death for various reasons. Today, however, is both T(ea) Tuesday and Douglas Adams' birthday, so I thought I'd share this quote from the screenplay to Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:

“A cup of tea would restore my normality."

Yes! Yes, indeed! Sometimes a cup of tea is all that's needed to restore normality, and sometimes normality really needs to be restored.

Douglas Adams' books are great fun, and I highly recommend them if you like science fiction with a bit of humor. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is his best-known and most readily available work. You can order it from a Memphis bookstore here.

Please join T(ea) Tuesday with Bleubeard and Elizabeth.

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Abyss

The Abyss:



by Alex da Ponte, Memphis musician.

Lyrics:
Woke up earlier than I should
I would get up if I only could
But something heavy is weighing me down

Wrote a letter that you’ll never see
I guess I really wrote it for me
‘Cause the abyss is calling me

You said it wouldn’t take too long
But I think now that you were wrong
I’ve had enough time to write you a sad sad song

Will I be happy or is this it?
Or have I had all I’m gonna get?
You said I’d be fine, I guess you don’t know shit

Can you feel me?
Can you feel me?
Am I still here

You’re like a werewolf after the change
I’m screaming please just remember your name
Look in my eyes and see I’m the same

I’m in this tunnel and I can’t see
There’s no light at the end for me
The abyss is calling me

Can you feel me?
Can you feel me?
Am I still here

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Picnic At Hanging Rock

Picnic at Hanging Rock is a 1975 Peter Weir film based on a book supposedly based on a true story -but not actually based on a true story. It's fascinating, a mystery without a solution with an eerie feel and a definite sexual subtext. I had seen this one several times (The Boys here don't like it at all), but this time I watched it with The Daughter. She liked it, and we enjoyed talking about possible solutions. What really happened?

trailer:



Moria calls it "an incredible and haunting film" and "a film that resonates with a sense of enigma that continues to work the mind long after many of its individual details have faded in memory" and says, "The combination of haunting unsolved mystery and broodingly sinister symbolism creates an atmosphere that is spellbinding." DVD Talk calls it "unnervingly mysterious" and "unique" and "a disturbing but unforgettable viewing experience" and closes their review with this:
Beyond setting up the mystery of Hanging Rock, Weir's film also works as a finely observed, and at times heartbreaking, period drama. Uniformly excellent acting and characterization expertly communicate the inevitable sense of sadness and tragedy that pervades this film on a number of different levels. Top-notch cinematography, art direction and costume design work serve to complete the compelling picture found here.
Empire Online gives it 5 out of 5 stars and calls it "A fascinating film that is by turns fascinating and mysterious." It's on Roger Ebert's list of Great Movies, and he calls it "a film of haunting mystery and buried sexual hysteria." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 91%.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

The Red Shoes

The Red Shoes is a 1948 Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger film. The ballet in the film is called The Red Shoes and is based on the Hans Christian Andersen story by that name. I've seen it several times, but this time I watched it with The Daughter who had never seen it before. I'm happy to say she liked it; I was hoping she would.

That makes the 3rd ballet-based movie I've seen lately: The Black Swan and Etoile are the others.

trailer:



Senses of Cinema says,
The Red Shoes was a landmark dance film because it was the first film to transcend dance’s theatricality and move into “pure cinema”. As a mise-en-abyme, the film’s structure and production provided a concrete example of how films about dance productions could be interpreted more evocatively.
Slant Magazine opens its review by saying,
To paraphrase Macbeth, the cinema hath bubbles—a select few works of art so rare in their beauty, delicacy, and refinement that you fear they will vanish in front of your eyes before your retinas have fully gorged themselves on the visual splendor before you. The Red Shoes is one such film.
It's #5 on the Time Out list of 100 best British films. DVD Talk says, "If The Red Shoes is The Archers' (Powell/Pressburger) most popular film, it is because it has inspired an audience beyond the fans of creative cinema." Roger Ebert has it on his list of great movies and says, "The film is voluptuous in its beauty and passionate in its storytelling. You don't watch it, you bathe in it". Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 98%. It's listed in the book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.

Friday, March 07, 2014

The Bitch

La Chienne (The Bitch) is a 1931 French film, the second sound film directed by Jean Renoir. Poor Maurice is an unhappily married cashier who is an amateur painter. He meets Lulu by accident. Not realizing she's a prostitute, he falls in love with her. She and her pimp milk Maurice for everything. It doesn't end well for anybody.

Fritz Lang remade it as Scarlet Street with Edward G. Robinson.

via youtube:



TimeOut calls it "Wonderfully moving, with great performances." Films de France calls it "authentic and emotionally involving" and says, "it represents something of a landmark in cinema." FilmRef.com says, "Jean Renoir creates an incisive, provocative, and excoriating commentary on human behavior, class structure, and social conduct". Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 100%.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Redshirts


John Scalzi has become one of my go-to authors for enjoyable reading. The Husband bought me Redshirts for Christmas, and it was great fun. Being a Star Trek fan from way back (which was a bit hard with my mother making sure I could never watch Kirk and Company on TV because she disapproved of science fiction), I loved the connection with that series. I would think it would help you appreciate the fun more if you're familiar with the Star Trek meme the red shirt:


but it's certainly not necessary. There's plenty here to consider if you are of a more philosophical bent.

The book won the 2013 Hugo Award for best novel. You can read the first 5 chapters here.

from the back of the book:
THEY WERE EXPENDABLE...

UNTIL THEY STARTED COMPARING NOTES

Ensign Andrew Dahl had just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. It’s a prestige posting, and Andrew is thrilled all the more to be assigned to the ship’s Xenobiology laboratory.

Life couldn’t be better...until Andrew begins to pick up on the fact that (1) every Away Mission involves some kind of lethal confrontation with alien forces, (2) the ship’s captain, its chief science officer, and the handsome Lieutenant Kerensky always survive these confrontations, and (3) at least one low-ranked crew member is, sadly, always killed.

Not surprisingly, a great deal of energy belowdecks is expended on avoiding, at all costs, being assigned to an Away Mission. Then Andrew stumbles on information that completely transforms his and his colleagues’ understanding of what the starship Intrepid really is...and offers them a crazy, high-risk chance to save their own lives.
The review at The British Science Fiction Association closes with this: "Once again John Scalzi has written a novel that surprises and entertains but that also sticks with you long after you’ve finished reading it. Well recommended in my humble opinion." Wired calls it "a brilliantly funny book with an unexpected amount of emotional heft". io9 says, "It's one part Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, one part "Below Decks," and one part geeky nitpicking about the bad science in science fiction television. With a dash of Cabin in the Woods." SFReviews.net concludes,
SF might not be the genre you think of when it comes to "you'll laugh, you'll cry" entertainment. But if we must have stories like that, I'm happy to have John Scalzi be the guy writing them. Just as long as he remembers to throw in a few ice sharks and Borgovian Land Worms.
SF Signal gives it 4 out of 5 stars and says the book "accomplishes exactly what it was intended to do: entertain the science fiction fan. In that respect, the book wildly succeeds". Kirkus Reviews does not like it at all and says, "It's all vaguely amusing in a sophomoric sort of way, which is fine if you're an easily diverted sophomore with a couple of hours to kill." SFSite.com says, "Not only does Redshirts work as a novel, but Scalzi is able to make the characters come alive." Forbes closes its review with this:
You don’t have to be a hardcore sci-fi fan to enjoy Redshirts, though there are plenty of Easter Eggs for those who are. And the beauty of the book is that it works on multiple levels. If you’re looking for a breezy, fun read for the beach, this is your book. If you want to go down a level and read it as a surreal meditation on character and genre like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, this is your book. If you’re looking for a deeper interplay about the intersections between story and our lives, well, this is your book, too. Suffice to say, I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Django, Prepare a Coffin

Django, Prepare a Coffin is another in a long line of films connected only by the inclusion of the name "Django" in the title. Not an official sequel, this one is from 1968 and stars Terrence Hill as Django. The plot involves the title character being betrayed by a friend. The resulting death of Django's wife sets Django on the road to a vengeance which brings to life the saying that "revenge is a dish best served cold." I enjoy spaghetti westerns, and this is a good one.

via youtube:



This review at Spaghetti-Western.net praises Hill in the lead and says,
The film itself is probably the closest to a genuine Django sequel or prequel that was ever made but, in truth, has sufficient continuity holes in relation to the original to ensure it can never really be taken completely as such. It does have a Django ‘feel’ to it though and has the machine gun and coffin scene to cement its claim. Like the original it also boasts two villains and the twin talents of George Eastman and Horst Frank are a happy bonus indeed. Eastman exuding malice as the swaggering outlaw boss while Frank maintains the usual level of malevolent arrogance that made him such an icon of European westerns.
Another review at Spaghetti-Western.net says, "A lot of stalwart spaghetti western actors have cameos, turning the movie into a real plethora of familiar faces. The score ... is a special one." 10kBullets says it is "not only one of the finest and most faithful takes on the “Django” mythos ever released, but one of the most enjoyable Spaghetti Westerns to mix the crazy and the cool into one fantastically successful package."

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Tear-Water Tea


I remember how much The Kids and I loved the Arnold Lobel books. I used to read his books aloud when The Kids were little, and I'm an expressive reader if I do say so myself. The story Tear-Water Tea came to mind for a couple of reasons: 1) It's in the book Owl at Home, and we have owls on the brain around here lately; and 2) Tea, of course!

The story Tearwater Tea has Owl crying into a teapot, shedding tears over all the sadnesses in his life. Then he heats the tears and makes tea: "It tastes a little bit salty," he said, "but tear-water tea is always good." It's a delightfully comforting story.

Pull up a cozy seat and a cup of something hot to drink, and hear the story for yourself, narrated by a "Missy Tingles":


"Songs that cannot be sung," said Owl, "because the words have been forgotten." It brings a tear to my eye even now.

Join the rest of the T(ea) Tuesday bunch over at hosts Bleubeard and Elizabeth's weekly blog gathering, where the Mardi Gras beads are looking festive.

(I saw the picture at the top of the post at several different websites but don't remember which one I got it from.)

Monday, March 03, 2014

Conversion by blog comment?

To the guy who keeps commenting on my posts to tell me I am doomed and headed for Hell:

You know your comments go straight to my spam filter, right? 

I only see them when I check the spam filter to see if a real comment has been trapped there by mistake. 

This is not a way to win converts to your particular brand of Christianity. 

Just sayin'.

Anyone Can Do It

Anyone Can Do It:



by John Paul Keith and The One Four Fives, Memphis musicians.

lyric excerpt:
Well, if you want to be a hero
Not a rock and roll zero
Even you can have a hit sound
If you let 'em find you face down
Yeah there's really nothin' to it
Anyone can do it.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

50 Best Romantic Comedies of All Time

Paste Magazine has a list of the 50 Best Romantic Comedies of All Time:
1. Annie Hall
2. When Harry Met Sally
3. Amélie
4. The Princess Bride
5. Manhattan
6. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
7. Say Anything
8. The Philadelphia Story
9. High Fidelity
10. Four Weddings and a Funeral
11. The Apartment
12. Moonrise Kingdom
13. Harold and Maude
14. Sixteen Candles
15. Pretty Woman
16. Love Actually (on the shelf, not yet watched)
17. The Shop Around the Corner
18. Knocked Up
19. Bridget Jones’s Diary
20. Chasing Amy
21. The Graduate
22. His Girl Friday
23. (500) Days of Summer
24. Bringing Up Baby
25. Silver Linings Playbook
26. The Purple Rose of Cairo
27. Juno
28. Sleepless in Seattle (on the shelf, unwatched)
29. Waitress
30. The Wedding Banquet
31. Wall-E
32. The African Queen
33. Jerry Maguire
34. Groundhog Day
35. Pretty in Pink
36. Punch-Drunk Love
37. As Good as It Gets
38. The 40-Year-Old Virgin
39. It Happened One Night
40. About a Boy
41. Lars and the Real Girl
42. Notting Hill
43. The Lady Eve
44. 10 Things I Hate About You
45. Roxanne
46. You’ve Got Mail (it's on the shelf, just not watched yet)
47. Hitch
48. Clueless
49. Forgetting Sarah Marshall
50. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World
I've seen the 18 in bold print. I don't tend to like "romantic comedies". Typically, they're too sweet/sappy for me, and I prefer the quirkier ones.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Flying Fish


The Daughter and I recently had lunch at the Flying Fish restaurant downtown. It's part of a small Southern chain with other locations in Arkansas and Texas. You order at the counter and then pick your food up when they buzz you. We each had the 2 filet fish basket and lemonade. It was very good. You can see their menu here. We sat at the counter looking out on the street. It's open-air, and it was a beautiful day:


They provide a service, too, in offering a home for unwanted Billy Bass plaques:


Yelp gives them 4 out of 5 stars with 104 reviews. Urban Spoon has a rating of 94% with 553 votes. The I Love Memphis blog likes it. East Memphis Moms gives it a positive review as does Memphis Gastroblog.