Saturday, May 31, 2014

All Roads Lead to the Left!


I remember the first time we saw this sign, headed South on Perkins, all the kids in the back seat. I pointed to it, then pointed out to the right, then said, "I wonder what's in that direction". Honestly! We get a kick out of that sign every time we see it.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Born in Flames

Born in Flames is a 1983 science fiction film styled as a documentary about this alternative America, observing the 10th anniversary of the War of Liberation. The movie won the Reader Jury prize at the Berlin International Film Festival and the Grand Prix at the Creteil International Women's Film Festival. It focuses on feminism and violence against women. It is definitely a period piece, and yet the message about abuse of power still needs to be heard.

via youtube:



Queering the Closet says,
The main reason for seeing Born in Flames is for the intellectual butt kicking it provides. While not a very pretty or well polished, there's enough brain power behind the philosophical issues addressed and provocative subtext to put the most intelligent academic scholar to shame.
DVD Verdict says, "Born in Flames is a compelling, sobering rebuke to the growing political apathy both in America and worldwide. If only more films were like it." Rotten Tomatoes has a 66% audience score but no critics rating.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Brief Lives


Brief Lives is a 1990 novel by Anita Brookner, who is one of my favorite writers. I buy her books whenever I come across them, and I am never disappointed. I somehow feel a connection with her characters. It's not that they are anything like me -though they may be like me in some ways- but I understand them as if I really know them as people. They are real to me and can bring me to tears.

from the back of the book:
With this novel, Booker Prize-winning author Anita Brookner confirms her reputation as an unparalleled observer of social nuance and deeply felt longings. Brief Lives chronicles an unlikely friendship: that between the flanboyant, monstrously egocentric Julia and the modest self-effacing Fay, who is at once fascinated and appalled by Julia's excesses. Thrust together by their husbands' business partnership -and by a guilty secret- Julia and Fay develop an intense bond that is nonetheless something less than intimacy, a relationship in which we see our own uneasy compromises, not only with other people, but with life itself.
Brookner doesn't hint at upcoming events. Tragedy strikes or not, but there's never a warning.

selected quotes:
The late afternoon is my bad time, when the light goes. I get nervous then, and long for someone to come. At those times I feel fatally like my mother, waiting in the dusk for me to wave to her as I approached the house. But after a while I get up and make a cup of coffee and switch on for the news. There is absolutely no point in giving way to melancholy. There is always another day, or so I like to think.
On the whole my life has been very easy, very pleasant. I was a pretty girl, I married well... It all seems a long time ago. But what most women want I once had. I try to remember that.
Through all the restrictions and the worry that my mother's condition imposed on me my love for her grew, as, I think, did hers for me. This love was not a pleasure to either of us; it was, if anything, a burden. My mother felt it harnessed her to this world, which she tried so hard to ignore and which she was ready to leave, while to me it was the magnet that drew me unwillingly home, back to that narrow house and my mother's almost noiseless footfall, and the cup of tea that she silently put before me, as if appeasing a stranger in some primitive ritual. She had grown thin and frail; when I took her in my arms I could feel her heart beating under her cardigan. I took to staying with her until she had got into bed, and then sitting with her while she drank the hot milk and honey that I brought her. She would relax and smile at me then, briefly reverting to the mother I had always known, and I would lay my check on her hand in relief and gratitude. "You go, dear," she would say, with something of a return to her old manner.
I had reached that dangerous state in which I could see every fault that I had committed, and I desired an enormous confrontation so that I could cancel it all and begin again. This, of course, is impossible.
I've marked so many passages in this book, ones I find particularly striking, that to put them all here would give away too much of the plot. The ones above are representative, though, and are all fairly early in the book.

I do dearly love Brookner's writing!

There are several songs mentioned, as the main character is a professional singer, and one of them is, "I'll Be Loving You, Always":



Another song mentioned later in the book is "Just Awearyin' for You":



Kirkus Reviews says, "Fay Langdon is looking back on a life of emotional desolation, in Brookner's most powerful novel yet" and closes by saying the book "chills to the bone: it is as harrowing, and as unsparing, as the work of the great Jean Rhys." Publishers Weekly calls Brookner "A latter-day Jane Austen".

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Fistful of Dollars

A Fistful of Dollars is a 1964 Clint Eastwood spaghetti western directed by Sergio Leone. It's based on Yojimbo. In fact it's pretty close to a scene-by-scene remake, and you can't go wrong with Kurosawa as the source material. The music is by Ennio Morricone. This is a classic. Priceless!

trailer:


Spaghetti-Western.net says, "All in all, A Fistful of Dollars deserves its place in cinema history. The combined genius of Leone's comic book art visuals and Morricone's piercingly emotive sounds set a lasting standard that has been rarely matched." Empire Online gives it 5 out of 5 stars and calls it "a deserved classic of the genre it invented". DVD Talk says,
It's the kind of movie that casts a spell regardless of how many times you have seen it, commanding your interest to such a degree that it makes you forget what you know about the narrative and just go along, eager for each new shoot-out and to see who is left standing once all the bodies are counted.
Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 98%.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Casual Tea, or Elegant?

The Cup of Tea by Mary Cassatt

Mary Cassatt's tea paintings put me in a world apart. I tend to have tea sitting on the couch with my feet up (and usually bare) and a book close at hand. Even when I have guests, I'm never anything as elegant as the ladies in Cassatt's paintings. Sometimes I think that's rather sad, but honestly I'd rather be comfortable than elegant any day.

5 O'Clock Tea by Mary Cassatt

I suppose it wouldn't hurt to do tea "right" and put on some shoes and sit up straight. I could get out proper cups and saucers and serve nicely. I don't ever think of it, though. Maybe it's because my focus is on having some tea with my book or with the movie instead of my focus being on the tea itself. Hmmm... Maybe I need to give the tea its due for a change.

You can share your tea pictures over at Bleubeard and Elizabeth's weekly tea linky, where she's taking us to Antarctica. Brrrrr!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memphis Yodel

Memphis Yodel (1928):



by Jimmie Rodgers, the Father of Country Music, who died on this date in 1933 at the age of 35. He had long suffered from tuberculosis. He was born in Meridian, Mississippi, which is 3 3/4 hours south of Memphis.

lyrics:
I woke up this morning
The blues all around my bed
I woke up this morning
The blue's all around my bed
I didn't have nobody
To hold my aching head

If you don't want me, woman
Give me your right hand
If you don't want me, woman
Give me your right hand
'Cause I can find me another mama
And I know you can find a man

I love you, Memphis
You know I love, love you so
Lord, I love you, Memphis
Tennessee, I love you so
And I'd rather be here
Than any other place I know

I've got my ticket
I'm sure gonna ride this train, hey, hey, hey
Lord, I've got my ticket
I'm sure gonna ride this train
I'm goin' some place
Where I wont hear 'em call your name

I'm goin' to the river
Take me a rockin' chair, sing them blues, boy
I'm goin' to the river
And take me a rockin' chair
And if the blues don't leave me
I'll rock all the way from here

I don't want you, mama
And I know you don't want me, Lord, Lord, Lord
I don't want you, woman
And I know you don't want me
So I'm goin' to New Orleans
From there on across the sea

Sunday, May 25, 2014

And Hakuho Wins Again!


Hakuho has won the Summer Sumo tournament. The Japan News says, "Hakuho is now two behind Chiyonofuji and three shy of Taiho for the all-time lead in tournament victories." Asia and Japan Watch quotes the champion: ""I'm thrilled to win my 29th title at the age of 29," Hakuho said. "It's hard to find the words to describe it other than I did my best."" Mainichi says, "Hakuho once again proved why he is still the master of the raised ring."

Jason's in Japan has coverage of the tournament, including this video of the winning match:


The photo at the top of the page comes from Wikipedia.

Vance Park


Vance Park is a little park up on the bluff in downtown Memphis overlooking the Mississippi River. I love public art, and I think this one is well-placed:


Here's the sign at the base of the sculpture:


It says:

Whirl
2001
John Medwedeff
An original work owned and
commissioned by the City of Memphis,
through the Urban Art Commission, in
conjunction with the Riverfront
Development Corporation

The view of the river from here was obscured by the temporary fencing around the Memphis in May music venues when we were here, but it's usually a good spot to sit.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Sea Hawk (1940)

The Sea Hawk is a 1940 film in which Errol Flynn plays a brave, gallant and sincere swash-buckling swordsman with a wry sense of humor. The Husband truly loves these. I feel like I'm seeing the same film over and over and over... but it's a fun movie, so I don't guess I'm complaining. Michael Curtiz directs.

trailer:

Slant Magazine gives it 3 out of 4 stars, says "It's a reliable template, handled with visual flair by able director Michael Curtiz" but adds,
the film owes a slavish obligation to propaganda that cursed many a wartime adventure story. The Elizabethan era is a cloak for World War II moralizing, with the Spanish armada standing in for Hitler's quest for world power, and Elizabeth I as a Churchill-style orator calling all good free men into action against the powers of evil. This gets a bit thick...
Empire Online gives it 5 out of 5 stars and closes with this: "One of the very best and most lavish of all the Errol Flyn sweeping adventures. A feast for the eyes and the a good fun romp." DVD Talk mentions its influence on George Lucas' Star Wars franchise and calls The Sea Hawk "exciting". The Guardian discusses the historical inaccuracies and mentions Hitler. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 100% and an audience score of 88%.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Elefante

Elefante is a short fantasy film from 2012. Pablo Larcuen is writer and director. He has a web site here. The film has its own Facebook page. In this film, a discouraged man has a boring job, his kids ignore him, and his wife is dismissive. His doctor gives him the news that he is turning into an elephant.

via Vimeo:


Short of the Week says, "Larcuen’s signature mixture of absurd humour and heartfelt emotion is in full evidence here. Absurd, because after all, a man is turning into an elephant! But really it’s just that Manuel’s sense of isolation and rejection is being taken to its extreme." Neatorama says, "This darkly humorous short by Pablo Larcuen explores themes of alienation, personal transformation and the importance of family when you're undergoing a major metamorphosis." Laughing Squid says it "features some pretty impressive special makeup effects and animatronics". Forbidden Planet calls it "touching" and says,
The special make up is very well executed, looking realistic while still allowing the actor to convey emotion through the prosthetics, and there’s a very emotional few scenes between him and his very young son that will get to you, all packed into just about ten minutes or so, do have a look

via SF Signal

Thursday, May 22, 2014

And Be a Villain


And Be a Villain is a Nero Wolfe mystery, part of the series by Rex Stout. I think I'll start picking these up as I can. I love the characters and the writing. This one I borrowed from The Younger Son, who has more of them. I have one I found locally. There are 47+ in all, so it'll be fun to hunt them down. I'm told the order doesn't matter much as long as I read the earlier ones before the later ones.

NeroWolfe.org has this description:
Opens with Wolfe's income tax payment. Motivated by money alone, Nero involves himself in a crime which has been broadcast over a great national network. A leading lady of the microphone interviews a racetrack tout and a professor of mathematics. In the course of the interview, as a plug for one of the sponsors, a noted soft-drink manufacturer, each guest is served a bottle of the beverage. To the astonishment of the radio public, the embarrassment of the soft-drink manufacturer, and the annoyance of the New York Police Department, the racetrack oracle instantly drops dead of cyanide poisoning. How did cyanide get into the drink? And how could anyone be sure that the tout would receive the fatal bottle? Or, for that matter, was the poisoned bottle intended for him at all?

This is only the beginning of a case more complicated than any Nero ever faced before. To solve it requires a degree of tramping around New York and rounding up of suspects far beyond the sedentary habits of Nero, and even beyond Archie Goodwin's capacity for swift motion and rapid-fire interrogation. There's only one thing for Nero to do. He must put the New York police force to work for him.

Selected as one of Stout's four best detective novels by Barzun and Taylor, And Be a Villain is also significant as the first novel in the Zeck trilogy, where Nero Wolfe faces off against a Moriarty-ish Napoleon of Crime by the name of Zeck. This story features some choice scenes of Wolfe ranting.

Kirkus Reviews says Wolfe "unties a complicated blackmail setup, pulls an answer out of thin air and makes it stick. Fat man ferreting de luxe."

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Sukiyaki Western Django

Sukiyaki Western Django, inspired by Kurosawa's Yojimbo, is a 2007 Japanese Western. It's directed by Takashi Miike and features Quentin Tarantino. It's intended to be a prequel to the original Django movie. An extremely violent example of a violent sub-genre.

trailer:


Slate describes it this way:
Sukiyaki Western Django is a blend of Buddhist philosophy, film noir fatalism, Shakespeare's Henry VI, and Japan's very own 12th-century Genpei War. It's a Wild West pageant of American history seen through Japanese eyes, reducing our entire frontier mythology to an ultraviolent grab for gold.
Spaghetti-Western.net says,
Intentionally camp, deliberately post-New Wave, Sukiyaki Western Django is good fun, but constantly veering from violent melodrama to parody and back, the movie eventually becomes too much of a macaroni-pizza-pasta-spaghetti-chambara dish, too much at the same time to be anything in particular.
Empire Online gives it 3 out of 5 stars and concludes: "Sumptuous at times but self-indulgent and incoherent at others." DVD Talk says, "To cram this review of Sukiyaki Western Django down to three words? It's fucking nuts." Rotten Tomatoes has a 55% critics score.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

I Love to Laugh


This is the scene from the Mary Poppins movie where they have tea on the ceiling, although this video just has the song. Here's a picture of the actual tea party (from the Bigelow Tea Blog):


Now, doesn't that sound like great fun! I'm settling for tea on the patio, but if I ever figure out anti-gravity it'll certainly expand my options.

This reminds me of that Dr. Seuss quote, "It is fun to have fun, but you have to know how," from The Cat in the Hat. It is so true! Since I don't know how to float my tea table up to the ceiling, I'll have to make my fun where I can. This time of year, the patio is filled with potted plants, and I'm having fun trying to figure out what to plant in the beds now that I've dug up and discarded the plantings that had been there.

Elizabeth had a disappointing experience at a Chinese restaurant. There are always folks sharing a variety of experiences over there on Tuesdays, and I enjoy the visit.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Star Trek Continues

You have to get used to other actors you've never seen before playing the old-style original Kirk/Spock/Bones/Scotty/Uhuru cast, but once that's done: Golden. Marina Sirtis, who is Deanna Troi in Star Trek: The Next Generation, voices the computer. Scotty is played by the son of James Doohan, who played the part in the original.

Here's the vignette that leads us from the last episode of the original series to this continuation:



Here's the first episode, which is a direct sequel to The Original Series episode Who Mourns for Adonais? starring the same man who played Adonis in the original:


That episode has a Wikipedia entry here. I'm loving this.

The second episode, which guest stars Lou Ferrigno, is here:



More are expected.

Slate has a positive review. io9 has given it some positive attention.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Southern 42


Located on Southern Avenue at East Parkway South. The Daughter spotted this one, and I pulled over so she could take its picture out of the car window.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Yojimbo

Yojimbo is a 1961 Akira Kurosawa classic, inspiration for 3 different re-makes: Fistful of Dollars, Sukiyaki Western Django, and Last Man Standing. It stars Toshiro Mifune and Takashi Shimura, who are both favorites with us. The score is great fun. We like everything about this movie.

trailer:



Slant Magazine gives it 4 out of 5 stars and calls it "Something of a textbook example of the perfect crowd-pleaser". Empire Online gives it 5 out of 5 stars and calls it a "masterpiece". DVD Talk says, "the brash but focused Yojimbo stands as a true Japanese classic, thanks to the weight of Kurosawa's capable direction, Mifune's charismatic performance, Masaru Sato's memorable score and many other elements." It is on Roger Ebert's list of Great Movies, and he notes it was "Akira Kurosawa's most popular film in Japan". Rotten Tomatoes has 97% for both critics and audience scores.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Big Kill


The Big Kill is a Mike Hammer book, one in a series of detective stories by Mickey Spillane, whose photo from Wikipedia is above. I'm not sure this is in print as a stand-alone novel. I have The Elder Son's copy of volume 2 of The Mike Hammer Collection, which has 3 of the novels. I'm reading some of these for background on detective/crime/mystery novels. I like them ok, I guess, but I have trouble getting past the misogyny.

This plot synopsis is from Wikipedia:
Drinking at a seedy bar on a rainy night, Hammer notices a man come in with an infant. The man, named Decker, cries as he kisses the infant, then walks out in the rain and is shot dead. Hammer shoots the assailant as he searches Decker's body. The driver of the getaway car runs over the man Hammer shot to ensure that he won't talk. Hammer takes care of the child and vows revenge on the person behind the deed.

Hammer's trail of vengeance leads him to hostile encounters with his police friend Pat Chambers, the District Attorney and his stooges as well as beatings, assassination attempts, and torture from gangsters that Hammer reciprocates.
That Wikipedia article needs a bit of editing for clarity, if you ask me, but maybe it gets the general idea across.

There's a limited market for Spillane's prose, and I imagine that market gets smaller with each passing decade. a quote from the book:
It was one of those nights when the sky came down and wrapped itself around the world. The rain clawed at the windows of the bar like an angry cat and tried to sneak in every time some drunk lurched in the door. The place reeked of stale beer and soggy men with enough cheap perfume thrown in to make you sick. Two drunks with a nickel between them were arguing over what to play on the juke box until a tomato in a dress that was too tight a year ago pushed the key that started off something noisy and hot. One of the drunks wanted to dance and she gave him a shove. So he danced with the other drunk. She saw me sitting there with my stool tipped back against the cigarette machine and change of a fin on the bar, decided I could afford a wet evening for two and walked over with her hips waving hello.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Tennessee Iris


The Iris is the state flower of Tennessee. Though not my favorite flower by a long shot, I do like them and see a lot of them around here. The Memphis Botanic Gardens has a lovely Iris Garden, and The Daughter and I spent the afternoon there recently.


Besides the Iris Garden, we enjoyed the Butterfly Garden (even though there wasn't too much blooming there yet):


There were azaleas still in bloom:


and some of the trees were blooming:

Chinese Fringe Tree
Dogwood

We saw koi, catfish, turtles, geese, a swan and my first hummingbird of the season, but I didn't get photos of them. The Daughter got a picture of this heron, though:


Here's a view of the bridge in the Japanese Garden:


I found a feature I had never noticed before:


No matter how many times I go, it seems like there's always something "new".

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Ugly Mug


No, not the mug. That's one of my favorite mugs! I picked it up at BoJo's antique mall before they sadly tore it down and replaced it with an eyesore.

No, I mean the coffee brand. We have found some coffee that's every bit as good as Peet's. Maybe better, since it's a locally roasted Memphis "thing". The back of the package says,
This coffee... Hails from Memphis, the Seattle of Southwestern Tennessee - Is purchased, roasted and packaged with a little something we like to call integrity - Reminds us of a time before the double mint mocha decaf skim latte ruled the Earth - Knows good looks will only get you so far - Speaks without resorting to faux European words, except faux - Understands you. Maybe too well - Works best with one or two tablespoons of ground coffee per 6 ounces of water - Is the latest bundle of joy from Ugly Mug Coffee.
Definitely worth checking out. Here in Memphis we can buy it all over town, including at Kroger. Elsewhere I'm not sure about availability, but you can order it from their website. We like the Hardy Passion blend best, but you can get one called Memphis Blend and one called Blue Suede Shoes.

This is now our go-to favorite coffee!

Bleubeard and Elizabeth host a weekly T Party at their blog, and they are quite welcoming. Go check it out.



Monday, May 12, 2014

Grace

Grace:



by Jeff Buckley, who died in a swimming accident in Wolf River Harbor not long after moving to Memphis.

lyrics:
There's the moon asking to stay
Long enough for the clouds to fly me away
Oh, it's my time coming, I'm not afraid, afraid to die

My fading voice sings of love
But she cries to the clicking of time
Of time

Wait in the fire
Wait in the fire

Wait in the fire
Wait in the fire
Fire

And she weeps on my arm
Walking to the bright lights in sorrow
Oh drink a bit of wine we both might go tomorrow
Oh my love

And the rain is falling and I believe
My time has come
It reminds me of the pain I might leave
Leave behind

Wait in the fire
Wait in the fire

Wait in the fire
Wait in the fire
Fire

It reminds me of the pain I might leave
Leave behind

And I feel them drown my name
So easy to know and forget with this kiss
I'm not afraid to go but it goes so slow, ohh

Wait in the fire
Wait in the fire

Wait in the fire
Wait in the fire
Wa-wa-wait in the fire

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Scorpio Rising

Scorpio Rising is a 1963 Kenneth Anger experimental short film. Motorcyclists, Brando, James Dean, drug use, Jesus, S&M, anal sex, Nazis, public urination, guns, death.... It may be influential, but I'm not finding it an enjoyable movie outside that historical context. The music is fun. At least it's short.

via youtube:


The book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die says it's "One of the most influential of all "underground" films". There's no critics score at Rotten Tomatoes, but the audience rating is 52%.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Birds of Panama in Memphis

well, photos of them anyway.

Panama is the country honored during Memphis in May this year. There are exhibits all over town, and we happened across the one at the Memphis Public Library when we were there at the used book store. This is an art exhibit of photographs of birds:


I'm having trouble finding information online, but this sample was at the Memphis in May site:


The photos are striking.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Mahanagar

Mahanagar (The Big City) is a 1963 Bengali film directed by Satyajit Ray. The film takes place in Calcutta and explores social change, in particular the financial necessity of women working outside the home and the effect this has on families. It is such a beautiful story of good people coping during hard times. I've loved everything I've seen by this director.

trailer:



DVD Talk describes it as "a low-key stunner" and writes, "The Big City's simple premise is belied by its exquisite storytelling and thoughtful craftsmanship." The Guardian calls it "glorious" and says, "The Big City is sublime, a movie to fall in love with." The Indian Express describes it as an "insightful and intimate portrait of a lower middle-class family in 1950s Calcutta" and calls it a masterpiece. Roger Ebert proclaims it "one of the most rewarding screen experiences of our time." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 89%.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Reef


Reef is a 1994 novel by Romesh Gunesekera. I love the writing in this book. The relationship between the main characters is intriguing.

description of the book from the author's website:
A story set in a spoiled paradise. It is told by Triton, who at the age of eleven goes to work as houseboy to Mister Salgado, a marine biologist obsessed by swamp, sea movements and the island’s disappearing reef. Triton learns to polish silver; to mix a love cake with ten eggs, creamed butter and fresh cashew nuts; and to steam the exotic parrot fish for his master’s lover. As Triton recounts his story, an extraordinary voice emerges: naive and knowing, fearful and brave, a boy becoming a man in a world on the brink of chaos. Published by Granta.
quotes that struck me:
I don't know why I lied, but sometimes I start saying the wrong thing and find I cannot stop. I wanted to tell him exactly what I had seen and what had happened. But the words were impossible to get out. I did not want to be tarnished by telling -by putting into words- what had gone on. It would have spoiled everything. We would have had Joseph between us forever. It was not what I wanted. It was better, I thought, to leave it untold. That way maybe the event would fade. It would disappear. Without words to sustain it, the past would die. But I was wrong. It does not go away; what has happened has happened. It hangs on the robes of the soul. Maybe putting it into words can trap it. Separate it. Afterwards maybe it can go in a box, like a letter, and be buried. Or maybe nothing can ever be buried.
But it takes time, years, to learn how other people cope with themselves, how they come to terms with the changes that happen, always happen around them.
If there are gods in this world, or in the next, let them take pity on us and give us strength every day, because we need it every day. Every single day. There is no let-up, ever. Not really.
The thing you have to learn is to let what will happen, happen, I suppose. Not to struggle, not for anything."
I was learning that human history is always a story of somebody's diaspora: a struggle between those who expel, repel or curtail -posses, divide and rule- and those who keep the flame alive from night to night, mouth to mouth, enlarging the world with each flick of a tongue.
Kirkus Reviews calls it "An extraordinarily accomplished mix of the sensual and the cerebral in beautifully detailed settings by a writer of great promise." The Boston Review closes with this:
The perceptive, thrilling drama of his narration seems to burst the limits of his framing device, a tribute to the power of his story. I look forward to reading every word he writes, not only for the pleasure of following one of the two or three best writers I've encountered among my contemporaries, but also in the hopes of seeing his stories escape his rather tendentious narrative bias toward literary relevance and speak more simply and dramatically for themselves.
PostColonialStudies.Emory.edu explains the political background of the book. The Independent says, "Put your ear to the page, and you can almost hear the ocean whisper." It was shortlisted for the Booker Prize.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Boot Hill

Boot Hill is a 1969 spaghetti western starring Terrence Hill, Bud Spencer and Woody Strode. It also has Victor Buono, who got a best supporting actor Oscar nomination for What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? and is one of those faces people know from character roles in movies and TV. Lionel Stander (notable for his response to the House Un-American Activities Committee and his subsequent lengthy 15+ year blacklisting) and Eduardo Ciannelli are also in this film. Giuseppe Colizzi directs. The music is by Carlo Rustichelli.

Released as Trinity Rides Again, it is not a part of the Trinity series. The plot is a bit convoluted and involves a circus with midget musicians, and a gold mine. The fight choreography is a lot of fun in this one. My question is whether or not the homosexual subtext was intentional.

via youtube:


Spaghetti-Western.net says, "Many think it’s one of their worst efforts, even one of the worst spaghetti westerns ever, but it also has a small but devoted cult following, especially among fans of the director." Weird Wild Realm calls it "a character-rich action-packed film".

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Tea and Macaroons


The Daughter found these little cookies at a local shop. The package said they were imported from Italy, which sounded like fun. She got one package of lemon- and one of orange-flavored, which were the only 2 flavors at this store, but the Cuorenero Macaron Sweet Biscuit website lists 6 different flavors in all. These little cookies are good! Not too sweet.

They taste good with the Whittard English Breakfast leaf tea. We made a pot to go with the cookies, and it was all delicious.

This cup and saucer are Anchor Hocking Azurite Charm and were picked up at an antique mall in Arkansas on a family vacation years ago. I like the shape. The pattern is from the first half of the 50s and is no longer made.

Tea time! It's a calming influence in my life.

Please join the weekly T(ea) gathering over at Bleubeard and Elizabeth's blog.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Samson and Delilah

Samson and Delilah (If I Had My Way):



a Blind Willie Johnson song, sung here by Reverend Gary Davis, also known as Blind Gary Davis, who died on this date in 1972 at the age of 76 from a heart attack.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Must-See Cult Movie List

io9 has a list of 30 Cult Movies That Absolutely Everybody Must See:
1) Rocky Horror Picture Show
2) Donny Darko
3) Eraserhead
4) Big Trouble in Little China
5) Re-Animator
6) The Man Who Fell To Earth
7) Naked Lunch
8) Primer
9) They Live
10) Monty Python and the Holy Grail
11) Repo Man
12) Altered States
13) Cherry 2000
14) Brother from Another Planet
15) Night of the Living Dead
16) Evil Dead 2
17) Time Bandits
18) Buckaroo Banzai
19) Slither
20) Dark Star
21) Plan 9 from Outer Space
22) The Hunger
23) Death Race 2000
24) Tales from the Hood
25) Sharktopus
26) Born in Flames
27) Lost Boys
28) The Warriors
29) Tremors
30) Zardoz
I've seen half. I have plans to see Donny Darko, Eraserhead, Naked Lunch, Evil Dead 2, Lost Boys and Zardoz. Especially Zardoz, because of the picture:

screenshot from Wikipedia

It blows my mind.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Pre-Memphis in May


The Daughter and I went down to Beale Street on May 1 to enjoy a little music before Memphis in May got into full swing the next day. We heard the Blues Express at WC Handy Park:


This is video from about a year ago of a song we heard them do:



It was such fun to see folks from scattered parts of the world gathered together to hear the blues on Beale.


Friday, May 02, 2014

The American Astronaut

The American Astronaut is a 2001 western-styled science fiction film. "Offbeat" is, I think, a good description. Here's the plot synopsis from Imdb:
Samuel Curtis, an interplanetary trader, sets forth through a rustic and remote solar system, unaware that his old friend Professor Hess is trying to kill him.
I watched it at Hulu, but I don't see any way to embed it here. Here's a trailer:


"We'll hide our space ship in the barn."

DVD Talk says,
Though many will argue with its inclusion in the canon of timeless classics, The American Astronaut announces a filmmaker with a vision as valid as David Lynch, a skewed view of reality ala the Coen Brothers, and a Terry Gilliam-esque way of making the futuristic and the fanciful seem soaked in grim and grit. Fans of cinema at its most pure and powerful will absolutely adore this film.
366 Weird Movies says,
Because of it’s intense originality combined with a lighthearted, playful spirit, Astronaut is a movie only the most ruthless reality-worshiper could hate.... The American Astronaut could be described as many things—space western, garage band musical, nonsense comedy—but the one thing it indisputably is is a cult movie. That is to say, it’s a specialized and peculiar little flick that has a devoted group of followers, and a larger contingent of outsiders who are nonplussed by its popularity.
RogerEbert.com has an interview with the director. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics rating of 63% and an audience rating of 89%.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

The Cairo Trilogy


The Cairo Trilogy, completed in 1957, is a novel in 3 books by Egyptian author Naguib Mahfouz. I've been engaged with this work for quite some time and am sad it's ended. I have been immersed in this family through its life over the generations and almost feel like I know them. This book was a joy to read. Please don't be intimidated by the length -my edition is 1313 pages- because it's a well-told story that will fit whatever reading schedule you use. I've spent years reading this, putting it aside when it didn't suit my mood. It always drew me back for more.

my favorite quotes:
"There will be new attacks of pain each time, no matter how many loved ones you lose. You'll die too, leaving your hopes behind you. But life's desirable, even if you suffer from love."
"...how can a grieving heart hope to comprehend..."
"There's no way to catch up with the dear one who has gone on ahead until God decrees it."
from the dust jacket flap:
Naguib Mahfouz's magnificent epic trilogy of colonial Egypt appears here in one volume for the first time. The Nobel Prize-winning writer's masterwork is the engrossing story of a Muslim family in Cairo during Britain's occupation of Egypt in the early decades of the twentieth century.

The novels of THE CAIRO TRILOGY trace three generations of the family of tyrannical patriarch Al-Sayyid Ahmad Abd al-Jawad, who rules his household with a strict hand while living a secret life of self-indulgence. Palace Walk introduces us to his gentle, oppressed wife, Amina, his cloistered daughters, Aisha and Khadija, and his three sons -the tragic and idealistic Fahmy, the dissolute hedonist Yasin, and the soul-searching intellectual Kamal. Al-Sayidd Ahmad's rebellious children struggle to move beyond his dominance in Palace of Desire, as the world around them opens to the currents of modernity and political and domestic turmoil brought by the 1920s. Sugar Street brings Mafouz's vivid tapestry of an evolving Egypt to a dramatic climax as the aging patriarch sees one grandson become a Communist, one a Muslim fundamentalist, and one the lover of a powerful politician.

Throughout the trilogy, the family's trials mirror those of their turbulent country during the years spanning the two World Wars, as change comes to a society that has resisted it for centuries. Filled with compelling drama, earthy humor, and remarkable insight, THE CAIRO TRILOGY is the achievement of a master storyteller.
The Christian Science Monitor says, "It's hard to overstate the rich pleasures found in this trilogy". In a 2012 article, The Daily Beast says, "The series, set against a backdrop of Egypt’s 1919 revolt against the British occupation, was recently reissued—and proves to be quite prescient, almost like a literary companion to the recent uprising." A review at Oprah.com calls it "a 20th-century masterwork equal to those of Joyce and Proust."