Saturday, February 28, 2015

Young and Innocent

Young and Innocent (known as The Girl Was Young in The US) is a 1937 Alfred Hitchcock crime thriller. It's based on a novel by Josephine Tey. It stars Nova Pilbeam, who at 95 is the oldest surviving Hitchcock leading lady. She was in films from 1934 to 1948 but left acting before she turned 30. This is good -Hitchcock with a lighter touch, but still Hitchcock.

via Youtube:


BFI Screen Online says, "It is much lighter in tone than most of Hitchcock's previous thrillers, thanks in part to the easy charm of lead Derrick de Marney, and anticipates the successful blend of comedy and suspense in The Lady Vanishes the following year." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics rating of 100%.

Friday, February 27, 2015

An American Werewolf in London

An American Werewolf in London is a 1981 John Landis horror film of the comedy-leaning variety. This is a fun movie. It's also a sad film, which surprised me since it succeeds at both the comedy and the horror.

trailer:



Moria says, "An American Werewolf in London was innovative at what it did during its day, although I fall short of calling it the all-time great genre classic that many were certain it was at the time." 1000 Misspent Hours says, "It’s extremely witty, surprisingly well acted ..., and tautly directed" and closes with this: "The long and short of it is: watch this movie. Director John Landis really knew what he was doing here". Empire Online gives it 4 out of 5 stars and concludes, "Carnivorous lunar activities rarely come any more entertaining than this."

Roger Ebert says, "it's as if John Landis thought the technology would be enough. We never get a real feeling for the characters, we never really believe the places ...), and we are particularly disappointed by the ending." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 89%.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Garden Party and Other Stories

The Garden Party and Other Stories is a 1922 short story collection by Katherine Mansfield. She was born in 1888 and died of Tuberculosis at age 34 less than a year after this book was published. The stories can be read online.

The stories include:
"At the Bay"
"The Garden Party"
"The Daughters of the Late Colonel"
"Mr and Mrs Dove"
"The Young Girl"
"Life of Ma Parker"
"Marriage à la Mode"
"The Voyage"
"Miss Brill"
"Her First Ball"
"The Singing Lesson"
"The Stranger"
"Bank Holiday"
"An Ideal Family"
"The Lady's Maid"
The first story At the Bay begins with this:
Very early morning. The sun was not yet risen, and the whole of Crescent Bay was hidden under a white sea-mist. The big bush-covered hills at the back were smothered. You could not see where they ended and the paddocks and bungalows began. The sandy road was gone and the paddocks and bungalows the other side of it; there were no white dunes covered with reddish grass beyond them; there was nothing to mark which was beach and where was the sea. A heavy dew had fallen. The grass was blue. Big drops hung on the bushes and just did not fall; the silvery, fluffy toi-toi was limp on its long stalks, and all the marigolds and the pinks in the bungalow gardens were bowed to the earth with wetness. Drenched were the cold fuchsias, round pearls of dew lay on the flat nasturtium leaves. It looked as though the sea had beaten up softly in the darkness, as though one immense wave had come rippling, rippling — how far? Perhaps if you had waked up in the middle of the night you might have seen a big fish flicking in at the window and gone again. . . .

Ah–Aah! sounded the sleepy sea. And from the bush there came the sound of little streams flowing, quickly, lightly, slipping between the smooth stones, gushing into ferny basins and out again; and there was the splashing of big drops on large leaves, and something else — what was it? — a faint stirring and shaking, the snapping of a twig and then such silence that it seemed some one was listening.

Round the corner of Crescent Bay, between the piled-up masses of broken rock, a flock of sheep came pattering. They were huddled together, a small, tossing, woolly mass, and their thin, stick-like legs trotted along quickly as if the cold and the quiet had frightened them. Behind them an old sheep-dog, his soaking paws covered with sand, ran along with his nose to the ground, but carelessly, as if thinking of something else. And then in the rocky gateway the shepherd himself appeared. He was a lean, upright old man, in a frieze coat that was covered with a web of tiny drops, velvet trousers tied under the knee, and a wide-awake with a folded blue handkerchief round the brim. One hand was crammed into his belt, the other grasped a beautifully smooth yellow stick. And as he walked, taking his time, he kept up a very soft light whistling, an airy, far-away fluting that sounded mournful and tender. The old dog cut an ancient caper or two and then drew up sharp, ashamed of his levity, and walked a few dignified paces by his master’s side. The sheep ran forward in little pattering rushes; they began to bleat, and ghostly flocks and herds answered them from under the sea.
I love the descriptive language, the sense of the settings, the mood. The stories are vignettes, pictures of life and the joys and sorrows that make life what it is.

The story The Garden Party begins:
And after all the weather was ideal. They could not have had a more perfect day for a garden-party if they had ordered it. Windless, warm, the sky without a cloud. Only the blue was veiled with a haze of light gold, as it is sometimes in early summer. The gardener had been up since dawn, mowing the lawns and sweeping them, until the grass and the dark flat rosettes where the daisy plants had been seemed to shine. As for the roses, you could not help feeling they understood that roses are the only flowers that impress people at garden-parties; the only flowers that everybody is certain of knowing. Hundreds, yes, literally hundreds, had come out in a single night; the green bushes bowed down as though they had been visited by archangels.
Don't get the idea, though, that it's all descriptive. There is plenty of action, and there are plenty of conversational passages.

A review from the time of the collection's publication says,
It is necessary to read no more than two or three of Miss Mansfield's stories before discovering that she has great talent. And after reading all of them, ... there is no doubt at all that this talent amounts to the rare thing which a lack of a juster word to express our enthusiasms we call genius, and that her name must be added to that small company of the living —so small that they could all get into one Lexington Avenue car without straphanging— who really have something to say, and can say it uncommonly well.
Here's another review from the period:


I read this as part of the 2015 Read Harder Challenge as "A collection of short stories (either by one person or an anthology by many people)".

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Custom of the Country


Custom of the Country is a 1913 novel by Edith Wharton. I thought I had read this before, and it didn't take me long to remember it. Wharton's books do tend to be memorable for me. She's a master at building an entire world and peopling it so perfectly that it's almost as if you are there. I'd recommend anything by her as can't-miss enjoyment. You can read it online.

from the back of the book:
First published in 1913, Edith Wharton's The Custom of the Country is a scathing novel of ambition featuring one of the most ruthless heroines in literature. Undine Spragg is as unscrupulous as she is magnetically beautiful. Her rise to the top of New York’s high society from the nouveau riche provides a provocative commentary on the upwardly mobile and the aspirations that eventually cause their ruin. One of Wharton’s most acclaimed works, The Custom of the Country is a stunning indictment of materialism and misplaced values that is as powerful today for its astute observations about greed and power as when it was written nearly a century ago.
The New Yorker looks at Wharton's career and says, "Undine’s story is one you absolutely have to read. “The Custom of the Country” is the earliest novel to portray an America I recognize as fully modern, the first fictional rendering of a culture to which the Kardashians, Twitter, and Fox News would come as no surprise." The Guardian calls it "one of the most enjoyable great novels ever written" and says, "Not all enjoyable novels are great, and not all great novels are enjoyable. This is, supremely, both."

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The First Cup


Jean-Étienne Liotard was a Swiss painter from the 1700s. This painting is called "The First Cup" and is from 1754. The Encyclopedia Britannica says, "A versatile artist, in addition to his graceful and delicate pastel drawings he achieved distinction for his enamels, copperplate engravings, and glass painting. He wrote a Treatise on the Art of Painting and was himself an art collector." You can see more of his work at The Athenaeum.

I think the woman in the chair has been happily anticipating this first cup and looks very pleased with her modest servant. I get my own tea, thank you, and wouldn't quite know how to act with a server in my own home. A lot of paintings show servants, but it's certainly not a common thing in any homes I'm familiar with.

Please join the T(ea) Tuesday gathering at Bluebeard and Elizabeth's blog, where talented people post their own art. What can I say? There have to be people out here who aren't artists themselves but who appreciate the artistic talent of others. That's me!

note: We have cancelled out AT&T internet service because we keep losing internet access and then it takes days for us to get service back. We are using a hotspot device, but it's slow as Christmas and "spotty" at best. We'll have service through another provider by the end of the week, but I'm not sure how much visiting I'll be able to do in the meanwhile.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Every Day I Have the Blues

Every Day I Have the Blues:



by Memphis Slim, who was born here in Memphis and who died in Paris, France, on 2/24/1988 at the age of 72.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Device

The Device is a science fiction short film by Claude Lee Sadik:


It's so short, and yet it packs a great story in there. What an interesting concept.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Top 10 Sci-Fi Movies

Amazing Stories Magazine has a list of Top 10 Sci-Fi Films (via SF Signal):
1. Blade Runner (1982)
2. The Matrix (1999)
3. Inception (2010)
4. Superman (1978)
4. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
5. Signs (2002)
6. The Sixth Sense (1999)
7. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
8. The Avengers (2012)
9. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
10. The Day After Tomorrow (2004)
There are 2 #4s, so there are actually 11 on this list. I've seen 9 of the 11 listed. I do plan on seeing the 2 I haven't already seen. I'm not sure why that hasn't happened yet.

I would never put Signs on any kind of "best movies" list, simply because I feel it has a huge plot flaw that cannot be ignored.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Full Circle

Full Circle (also called The Haunting of Julia) is a 1977 horror film based on a novel by Peter Straub. Mia Farrow stars with Keir Dullea (who played Dave Bowman in 2001: A Space Odyssey), Edward Hardwicke (one of the Dr. Watson actors in the Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes TV series), Peter Sallis (the only actor to appear in all episodes of the TV series The Last of the Summer Wine, had a role in one of the Doctor Who stories, voiced Rat in the Cosgrove Hall The Wind in the Willows series, and was the voice of Wallace from 1989-2011), Damaris Hayman (who appeared in a Doctor Who serial), Denis Lill (who was in Doctor Who twice in 1977 and as a different character in 1984), and Michael Bilton (who was in an episode of The Prisoner as well as 3 of the Doctor Who serials).

I had never heard of this and don't really understand why it's not better known. The music contributes to the atmosphere, though it's dated. It's a 70s horror film, after all..

via Youtube:


Moria gives it 2 out of 5 stars and says, "for all the film’s would-be pretension towards psychological subtlety, it remains only a traditional horror film." Fright.com calls it "An appealingly creepy, understated and compelling film". Rotten Tomatoes doesn't have a critics score, but the audience score is 53%.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

World of Trouble


World of Trouble is the third book in the Last Policeman trilogy by Ben H. Winters. I enjoyed the first two in this series, and I am sad this is the end. I'll definitely be on the lookout for more books by him.

from the back of the book:
There are just 14 days until a deadly asteroid hits the planet, and America has fallen into chaos. Citizens have barricaded themselves into basements, emergency shelters, and big-box retail stores. Cash is worthless; bottled water is valuable beyond measure. All over the world, everyone is bracing for the end.

But Detective Hank Palace still has one last case to solve. His beloved sister Nico was last seen in the company of suspicious radicals, armed with heavy artillery and a plan to save humanity. Hank's search for Nico takes him from Massachusetts to Ohio, from abandoned zoos and fast food restaurants to a deserted police station where he uncovers evidence of a brutal crime. With time running out, Hank follows the clues to a series of earth-shattering revelations.

The third novel in the Last Policeman trilogy, World of Trouble presents one final pre-apocalyptic mystery -and Hank Palace confronts questions way beyond whodunit: How far would you go to protect a loved one? And how would you choose to spend your last days on Earth?
Paste Magazine says, "And while fans may mourn the end of The Last Policeman, they can rejoice knowing the series has been optioned for television." Seattle PI closes with this: "In the same style of the first two novels, Mr. Winters keeps the pace quick and the plot moving. While the details of the world falling apart are not as evident as they were in the first two, this novel is a fitting end, I would, however, recommend reading the first two before reading this novel." Crime Pieces calls it "a fitting ending to an unusual series." Kirkus Reviews thinks this is the weakest in the series.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Treasure Hunt


Treasure Hunt is an Inspector Montalbano mystery novel (the 16th in the series) by Andrea Camilleri. I always enjoy these books and can't recommend them highly enough. The characters are fully fleshed out and interact in realistic ways. I appreciate the balance between the somber crime elements and the more light-hearted parts. Montalbano's introspection and interpersonal relationships add a lot to my continuing enjoyment of this series. I look forward to seeing each new translation in my local bookstore. They are best read in order, as the characters age and relationships change through the series.

from the back of the book:
A hail of bullets interrupts a period of dead calm. An elderly brother and sister open fire on the plaza below their apartment, punishing the people of Vigata for their sins. News cameras film Inspector Montalbano -gun in hand- scaling the building to capture the ancient snipers. Inside he finds a nightmarish world of religious objects and a well-worn inflatable sex doll that will come back to haunt him. The Inspector is hailed as a hero after the televised adventure and calm returns. But Montalbano begins to receive cryptic messages in verse, challenging him to go on a "treasure hunt". Intrigued, he accepts, treating the messages as amusing riddles -until they take a dangerous turn.

favorite quotes:
How was it that his desk was newly covered with papers to sign? It occurred to him that if all of mankind suddenly vanished from the face of the earth, for days and days the papers to be signed would probably keep on mysteriously accumulating on the desks of the world's offices.
...
Want to bet this lack of courage was nothing more than an effect of aging? That's what people are like when they get old; they become excessively prudent.

How did the saying go? We're born arsonists and we die firemen.
There is mention of an un-named print by Cagli, perhaps Corrado Cagli? This Italian artist was of Jewish heritage and became a U.S. citizen, fighting in Europe during World War II. After the war, he returned to Europe, living in Rome until his death in 1976. Mentioned as being in the same room with the work by Cagli is an un-named painting by Guttuso, maybe Renato Gattuso, who is best known for his Crucifiction:

Kirkus Reviews gives it a positive review. Eurocrime closes with mixed thoughts: "As usual there is much to like about this latest Montalbano book it's funny, there's political commentary and an intriguing adversary however the ending was marred for me by its darkness..." CrimeSegments.com highly recommends it.

I've also read these:
1. The Shape of Water
2. The Terra-Cotta Dog
3. The Snack Thief
4. Voice of the Violin
5. Excursion to Tindari
6. The Smell of Night
7. Rounding the Mark
8. The Patience of the Spider
9. The Paper Moon
10. August Heat
11. The Wings of the Sphinx
12. The Track of Sand
13. The Potter's Field
14. The Age of Doubt
15. Dance of the Seagull

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Porcellino's


The Daughter and I headed over one day to try out Porcellino's, a new coffee shop. There were tables and counter seating. We sat on comfortable stools at a counter at a window. They were offering Nitro Coffee, which is reportedly the latest thing in coffee brewing.


I didn't care for it. It's a cold brew infused with liquid nitrogen, but it also tasted of some kind of spice. I didn't care for the flavoring, and I guess I just prefer my coffee hot. The next time I go I'll try their espresso.

They have a limited food menu that looks very tasty, and I'll eat something next time. I will definitely go back. I want to go back when it's warm and I can sit out on their patio. At the other end of the cafe there's a craft butcher, but I buy cheaper meat. It looked very tempting, though....

The Memphis Business Journal has an article. The Memphis Daily News reports co-owner Michael Hudman saying that he would "envision someone like Tony Soprano enjoying a cup of coffee or an espresso" in this new place. Choose 901 has photos.

This outing was a couple of weeks ago. Right now we have sleet on the ground and highs in the 20sF. The low tomorrow night is predicted at 2F. Yes, that's a 2! This is what my patio looked like early yesterday morning:


All the schools and many of the businesses were closed yesterday and are closed again today. It may not seem like much to y'all, but here in Memphis if frozen precipitation is predicted everybody panics and nobody knows how to drive. It's a mess on the roads, and I'll be staying inside with my coffee. Brrrr!

Please join the T(ea) Tuesday link party at Bleubeard and Elizabeth's blog.

Wednesday update:

We had a bit of snow overnight, so now there's a solid sheet of ice overlaid by a pretty half-inch or so of pretty snow. Schools and universities are closed again today:

Monday, February 16, 2015

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Sidewalk 42


I take 'em where I can get 'em, folks.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Merv

Merv (via SF Signal) is a science fiction short film by Matt Inns. This is the description from the Vimeo page:
After the end of the world, Merv’s life in the lonely wastes is comfortably boring until an unexpected signal heralds the coming of a stranger, threatening the existence of the precious green sprout, his only company, he so lovingly cares for. With his lonesome life turned upside down, Merv finally begins to discover the simple truth of happiness.
I dearly love this one.

via Vimeo:

Friday, February 13, 2015

Faust (1994)

Faust is a 1994 Czech film directed by Jan Švankmajer. It's a blend of live action and Claymation animation. It's not a straight re-telling of the legend, but re-interprets the Goethe and Marlowe stories.

trailer:


You can watch it online here.

Moria gives it 4 out of 5 stars and says, "Visually the film is wild." From Senses of Cinema:
Rather than merely compiling many sources into a kind of Faust mixtape, Švankmajer’s film transcends conventional linear narrative altogether, to the point where the end result resembles a dream. While it is not explicitly presented as such – there is no framing device; no Chitty Chitty Bang Bang epilogue – the intention is clear: it is as if an unseen protagonist has, following a visit to an old Prague puppet theatre, fallen asleep at home surrounded by printed adaptations of Faust as Charles Gounod’s opera tinkles from the clock radio. Perhaps we might call this protagonist “Švankmajer”.
Slannt Magazine gives it 2 1/2 out of 4 stars and concludes "though its ballast of jokes and spectacle are formidable, it often lurches about at a remote, enigmatic distance." Horrorphile calls it "essential viewing for anyone remotely interested in the dynamic power of puppetry and marionettes in the context of storytelling, also in filmmakers who challenge traditional and classic myths and fables and re-envision them with exciting new techniques". The Chicago Tribune review calls it "a nightmare not easily forgotten".Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 78% and an audience score of 91%.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Noir


Noir is a 1998 science fiction novel by K. W. Jeter. It is noir, with both a feel for the genre and suitable characters to inhabit it. This has been on my TBR shelf for years, and I'm sorry I'm just now getting around to it. If you like the noir vibe and want something definitely different, this might be just the thing.

from the back of the book:
L>A.: the sparkling metropolis at the new center of what's left of the civilized world. Here wealthy men and women seek forbidden thrills through a system that enables them to indulge safely and anonymously in their wildest fantasies through the use of computerized simulations known as prowlers. Then a young executive at one of the world's most powerful corporations is brutally slain and an ex-information cop named McNihil is called in to find the dead man's still "living" prowler. McNihil knows he's walking into a trap. But he wants a chance to redeem himself for a botched job that forced him into retirement years ago. Teamed with a ruthless female operative called November, McNihil is about to enter a world in which no one can be trusted and things are far worse than they seem... a world in which a vast conspiracy of evil is about to blur the razor-thin line between the sane safety of daylight and the dark danger of Noir.
SF Site concludes, "In sum, a rich and fascinating book with considerable depth and many challenging ideas -- and beautifully written, too." Infinity Plus says Jeter "bends the rules to create something new without forgetting what was left behind."

Kirkus Reviews says, "By turns impressive, knowing, heavy, strained, and suffocating. Overall, it doesn’t add up to anything in particular, but it’s an uncommon experience nonetheless." Publishers Weekly closes with this: "This is a difficult, eccentric and rewarding novel, an SF equivalent, perhaps, of The Name of the Rose."

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

An Artist of the Floating World


An Artist of the Floating World is a 1986 novel by Kazuo Ishiguro. Given that I don't tend to like unreliable narrators, this one still drew me in. You get a good objective view from the context, the other characters, and the plot through the book. People see their own life histories in a much different light than others who are looking in from the outside.

from the back of the book:
In the face of the misery he saw in his homeland, the artist Masuji Ono was unwilling to devote his art solely to the celebration of physical beauty. Instead, he envisioned a strong and powerful Japan of the future, and put his work in the service of the imperialist movement that led Japan into World War II.

Now, as the mature Ono struggles through the devastation of that war, his memories of his youth and of the "floating world" -the nocturnal realm of pleasure, entertainment, and drink- offer him both escape and redemption, even as they punish him for betraying his early promise as an artist. Drifting in disgrace in postwar Japan, indicted by society for its defeat and reviled for his past aesthetics, he relives the passage through his personal history that makes him both a hero and a coward but, above all, a human being.
Most reviews I'd like to quote are sadly behind a paywall. I did find a few that can be viewed online. Kirkus Reviews has a mixed review. The Independent reviewer reads it once a year and says,
The themes that fascinate me as a writer are present in this novel: regret, guilt, the malleability of memory, the pains of ageing, solitude, loneliness. Ishiguro's writing is spare, and really nothing much happens in the book at all. And yet every time after I finish reading it, I view Ono – and the world – in a slightly altered light.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection


The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection is #13 in the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith. I'm reading these in order, and I love these characters. I've read books by this author that are not from this series and haven't liked any of his other work. This series, though, is priceless. There's less and less mystery involved, but I don't care. The characters, setting and plots are delightful! Do start with the first one, as the characters grow and relationships change.

Adapted for television, the series was cancelled after one season, because HBO didn't know a good thing when they had it. Both the books and the TV series were pastimes Mother and I both enjoyed. We read the books together and discussed them, and we watched the series together on DVD. It seems to have such wide appeal. I'll never understand why they didn't renew the show. (edit: We don't have cable, but we were so curious after reading the books that we bought the series on DVD. Well worth it.) You can watch the 2nd episode online:



from the back of the book:
Alexander McCall Smith's beloved best-selling No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series continues as Botswana's best and kindest detective finds her personal and professional lives have become entangled.

Precious Ramotswe is very busy these days. The best apprentice at Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors is in trouble with the law and stuck with the worst lawyer in Gaborone. Grace Makutsi and Phuti Radiphuti are building the house of their dreams, but their builder is not completely on the up and up. Most shockingly, Mma Potokwane, the orphan farm’s respected matron, has been dismissed from her post. Mma Ramotswe is not about to rest when her friends are mistreated. Help arrives from an unexpected visitor. He is none other than the estimable Mr. Clovis Andersen, author of The Principles of Private Detection, the No. 1 Ladies’ prized manual. Together, Mma Ramotswe, Mma Makutsi, and their colleague help right injustices that occur even in their beloved Botswana, and in the process discover something new about being a good detective.
Tea figures prominently in this series, so I'm linking this post to the T(ea) Tuesday link party at Bleubeard and Elizabeth's blog. The first chapter of this book is titled, "On a Hot Day We Dream of Tea". These are my favorite tea-related quotes:
Mma Ramotswe looked first at the teapot, and then at the clock. She would wait, she decided; if one kept bringing forward the time at which one had tea, then the period after tea time would become far too long. Tea had to be taken at the right time; if anything was clear, it was that.
....
"I am going to make some tea. We shall drink a cup of tea."

Mma Makutsi nodded, and sniffed. "It is always the best think to do, Mma."

It was, of course. The sound of the kettle boiling was in itself the sound of normality, of reason, the sound of a fight back against the sadness of things. And the making of tea -ordinary black tea for Mma Makutsi and red bush for Mma Ramotswe- was the first step in restoring a sense of order and control into their disturbed universe. Then, sitting close together for company, nursing their mugs of tea, they began to discuss what they would do.
....
"Of course I have tea when I wake up, " retorted Mma Ramotswe. "Is there anybody who doesn't have tea when they wake up?"
Kirkus Reviews has a positive review, as does EuroCrime. The Guardian says, "Fans of the series will find much to enjoy". Publishers Weekly says, "As always, the detection is secondary to Smith’s continuing exploration of the rhythms and social dynamics of smalltown African life."

Monday, February 09, 2015

Uptown Funk

Uptown Funk:



recorded in Memphis at Royal Studios. It's popularity has caused a stir here, and it's getting lots of mention locally. Memphis Daily News says, "The Mark Ronson song “Uptown Funk” featuring Bruno Mars has spent a few weeks now in the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It’s something Memphis producer and Royal Studios owner Boo Mitchell is especially proud to see, since the chart-topping track was recorded in Memphis at his studio." Choose 901 says, "All that Royal Studios has been doing, along with other studios in Memphis, is showing the world that Memphis has maintained its premiere music. “Uptown Funk” is a testament to the immense musical talent that Memphians are producing." Local TV channel WMC closes with this: "The continued success of "Uptown Funk" guarantees that the word is out. Number one hits are still born in Memphis, Tennessee."

Lyrics:
This hit
That ice cold
Michelle Pfeiffer
That white gold
This one, for them hood girls
Them good girls
Straight masterpieces
Stylin', while in
Livin' it up in the city
Got Chucks on with Saint Laurent
Gotta kiss myself I'm so pretty

I'm too hot (hot damn)
Called a police and a fireman
I'm too hot (hot damn)
Make a dragon wanna retire, man
I'm too hot (hot damn)
Say my name you know who I am
I'm too hot (hot damn)
Am I bad 'bout that money
Break it down

Girls hit you hallelujah (woo)
Girls hit you hallelujah (woo)
Girls hit you hallelujah (woo)
'Cause Uptown Funk gon' give it to you
'Cause Uptown Funk gon' give it to you
'Cause Uptown Funk gon' give it to you
Saturday night and we in the spot
Don't believe me, just watch (Come on)

Don't believe me, just watch

Don't believe me, just watch
Don't believe me, just watch
Don't believe me, just watch
Don't believe me, just watch
Hey, hey, hey, oh!

Stop
Wait a minute
Fill my cup put some liquor in it
Take a sip, sign a check
Julio! Get the stretch!
Ride to Harlem, Hollywood, Jackson, Mississippi
If we show up, we gon' show out
Smoother than a fresh jar o' Skippy

I'm too hot (hot damn)
Called a police and a fireman
I'm too hot (hot damn)
Make a dragon wanna retire, man
I'm too hot (hot damn)
Bitch, say my name you know who I am
I'm too hot (hot damn)
Am I bad 'bout that money
Break it down

Girls hit your hallelujah (woo)
Girls hit your hallelujah (woo)
Girls hit your hallelujah (woo)
'Cause Uptown Funk gon' give it to you
'Cause Uptown Funk gon' give it to you
'Cause Uptown Funk gon' give it to you
Saturday night and we in the spot
Don't believe me, just watch (come on)

Don't believe me, just watch

Don't believe me, just watch
Don't believe me, just watch
Don't believe me, just watch
Don't believe me, just watch
Hey, hey, hey, oh!

Before we leave
I'm a tell y'all a lil' something
Uptown Funk you up, Uptown Funk you up
Uptown Funk you up, Uptown Funk you up
I said Uptown Funk you up, Uptown Funk you up
Uptown Funk you up, Uptown Funk you up

Come on, dance
Jump on it
If you sexy then flaunt it
If you freaky then own it
Don't brag about it, come show me
Come on, dance
Jump on it
If you sexy then flaunt it
Well it's Saturday night and we in the spot
Don't believe me, just watch (come on)

Don't believe me, just watch

Don't believe me, just watch
Don't believe me, just watch
Don't believe me, just watch
Don't believe me, just watch
Hey, hey, hey, oh!

Uptown funk you up (come on)
Uptown funk you up (say what?)
Uptown funk you up
Uptown funk you up
Uptown funk you up
Uptown funk you up (say what?)
Uptown funk you up
Uptown funk you up (come on)
Uptown funk you up
Uptown funk you up (say what?)
Uptown funk you up
Uptown funk you up
Uptown funk you up
Uptown funk you up (say what?)
Uptown funk you up
Aaaow!

Sunday, February 08, 2015

The Four Feathers

The Four Feathers is a 1939 adventure film. It stars John Clements, June Duprez, and Ralph Richardson. It's based on a 1902 book by the same name, which has been adapted for film several times. This is generally recognized as the best of them. Accused of cowardice, a man seeks to prove himself.

trailer:



BFI Screen Online says it's "satisfying as a war film, with stirring battle scenes -the jailbreak sequence is spectacular- and a spirit of breathless boy's own adventure throughout". DVD Talk says, "The film presents an intriguingly ambivalent attitude toward military life. Army traditions are exalted, yet the hero is a conscientious individualist unwilling to go to war" and calls it "the perfect film to initiate a discussion of codes of honor." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 100%. TCM has an overview.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

50 Best SFF Movies

HiConsumption (via SF Signal) has a list of the 50 best science fiction and fantasy films of all time:
1. STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE
2. THE WIZARD OF OZ
3. MINORITY REPORT
4. THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING
5. E.T.: THE EXTRATERRESTRIAL
6. ALIEN
7. PLANET OF THE APES (1968)
8. INCEPTION (It's on the shelf, waiting.)
9. WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY (1971)
10. BACK TO THE FUTURE
11. GODZILLA (1954)
12. 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY
13. STAR WARS EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK
14. BLADE RUNNER
15. FORBIDDEN PLANET
16. THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS
17. THE MATRIX
18. METROPOLIS (1927)
19. CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND
20. AVATAR
21. STAR WARS EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI
22. ALIENS
23. THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL
24. KING KONG (1933)
25. HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS – PART 2
26. WALL-E
27. JURASSIC PARK
28. STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN
29. INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS
30. FLASH GORDON (1980)
31. TOTAL RECALL
32. WAR OF THE WORLDS (2005)
33. TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY
34. ROBOCOP (1987)
35. BRAZIL
36. THE FLY (1986)
37. STAR TREK (2009)
38. STAR WARS EPISODE III – REVENGE OF THE SITH
39. TRON (1982)
40. DARK CITY
41. DISTRICT 9 (I tried to watch this but didn't make it all the way through.)
42. THEM! (1954)
43. THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING
44. A.I.
45. LOOPER
46. 12 MONKEYS
47. MEN IN BLACK
48. A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (The dvd is on my shelf.)
49. SOLARIS (1972)
50. THE PRINCESS BRIDE

I've seen the ones in bold print. Of the ones I haven't seen, 2 (Inception and Clockwork Orange) are waiting on my shelf. The Younger Son says I really must see Aliens at some point (so I probably will). Looper... well, I really meant to see that one, but I don't like stories that depend on time travel, and the movie's time has past for me anyway. Chances of me ever seeing it are small.

Friday, February 06, 2015

The Ninth Gate

The Ninth Gate is a 1999 Roman Polanski film starring Johnny Depp and Frank Langella. Slow, predictable and too long, I loved the actors but won't sit through this again. The best thing about it was being reminded of how good Depp was back when he actually acted.

trailer:



Moria says, "While not a bad film by any means, it sits along there with Pirates and Frantic as one of Polanski’s not-quite-rans." The Guardian says, "this really is an exasperatingly boring film, and it is incredible that it is from the man who long ago brought us authentically frightening films in which evil really means something." DVD Talk likes it better than most, calling it a "superior horror hybrid that just misses greatness".

Roger Ebert says,
...only gradually do we realize the movie isn't going to pay off. It has good things in it, and I kept hoping Polanski would take the plot by the neck and shake life into it, but no. After the last scene, I underlined on my note pad: What?
Empire Online says, "A strong first act, stunning cinematography and an appealing performance from Johnny Depp lull you into a false sense of security, before Polanskiís sense of the extremely ridiculous takes over, and, unfortunately, the whole thing rapidly descends into sub-End Of Days nonsense." Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 41% critics score.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Kiss of the Spider Woman


Kiss of the Spider Woman (1976) is the best known novel of Argentinian writer Manuel Puig. This feels like such a tragic tale to me. I'm counting this towards the 2015 Read Harder challenge as "A book by a person whose gender is different from your own".

from the back of the book:
Kiss of the Spider Woman is a graceful, intensely compelling novel about love and victimization. In an Argentine prison, two men share a cell: Molina, a gay window dresser who is self-centered, self-denigrating, yet charming as well; and Valentin, an articulate, fiercely dogmatic revolutionary haunted by a woman he left for the cause. Both are gradually transformed by their guarded but growing friendship and by Molina's obsession with the fantasy and romance of the movies.
List of the films one prisoner re-tells to the other over the course of the book:
  • Cat People (1942)
  • A Nazi propaganda film with a love story plotline
  • A race car film
  • I Walked with a Zombie (1943)
  • A love story between a newspaper reporter and a gangster moll
favorite quote:
In a man's life, which may be short and may be long, everything is temporary. Nothing is forever. ... It's a question of learning to accept things as they come, and to appreciate the good that comes to you, even if it doesn't last. Because nothing is forever.
The Guardian says,
The novel is primarily written as dialogue, but also uses lengthy footnotes, official reports and stream-of-consciousness internal monologues. This experimental style rejects the use of a narrator, forcing the reader to take on this role. The dry and academic footnotes citing the latest psychological scholarship on homosexual behaviour (including one fictionalised report) are set in sharp contrast to the vibrant and complex character of Molina that they purport to explain. These footnotes have the effect of jolting readers out of the story so that they remain critically engaged.
Kirkus Reviews says it is " it is his richest, least mannered work". The Paris Review has an interview with the author.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress


Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress is a 2000 novel written by Dai Sijie. I remember this making quite a splash when it first came out, but I am just now getting around to reading it. This story tells of the power of literature and the true universality of story-telling. The classics reach out across cultures and generations to inspire and to change lives.

from the back of the book:
In this enchanting tale about the magic of reading and the wonder of romantic awakening, two hapless city boys are exiled to a remote mountain village for re-education during China's infamous Cultural Revolution. There they meet the daughter of the local tailor and discover a hidden stash of Western classics in Chinese translation. As they flirt with the seamstress and secretly devour the banned works, they find transit from their grim surroundings to worlds they never imagined.
The Guardian says, "Infused with the magic and spark of myth and fable, Sijie reminds us how precious intellectual liberty is." Kirkus Reviews calls it "Literate and moderately engaging".

There's a reading group guide with discussion questions here.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Drink Coffee!


This old ad explains why coffee should be sought out (in ye olde coffee shoppe, of course):
I have Observed that in those Parts where they drink it [coffee] at all times, as at Meals and otherwise, the Inhabitants are not subject to the Stone, Scurvy, Gout, Dropsie, nor many other Diseases which are incident to us here, it being moderately warm, attenuating and dry, so that many crudities and crude Humours by the common use of this Drink are very much Corrected. And I find by Experience, it hath taken also its good Effects in these our parts and Climate; for it being drunk at any time, dryeth up moist and waterish Humors, expelleth Wind, moderately binding and cleansing, it helpeth those who have the Dropsie by its drying quality and is most excellent against the common Distemper: for by the constant drinking thereof it Cured a Learned Bishop of this Kingdom, who had been before left off as Incurable by some of the most ablest Physicians of England (by drinking thereof, as he was advised, with Sugar-candy;) it strengtheneth much the Liver, helpeth the Jaundies, it's good against the Corruption of the Blood, it refresheth the Heart and vitals, it helpeth Swooning, palpitation and weakness of the Heart, and dizziness in the head, it strengtheneth the Stomach, helpeth the want of Appetite, Concoction and pains in the Stomach; in the Brain it helpeth all cold, moist and drowsie distempers, as the Lethargy, Apoplexy, etc. the Steam is good for Rheums in the Eyes, and for pains and noise in the Ears, or dullness of Hearing; it's good against all moist Rheums, if the matter of Phlegm be thick, then sweeten it with Sugar-candy; it's good against Hypochondriack Winds, and the pains of the Spleen; it purgeth by Urine, (a good Drink for those that are troubled with the Stone in the Reins or the Bladder;) it's experimentally good to prevent Miscarriage; it's good against the Gout, Sciatica, and for all Rheums and rheumatick Pains in the whole Body. Are any Surfeited with Drunkenness or Gluttony, let this be their common Drink. Do any eat much Fruit let them drink much of this; in the Spring time when Humors do make good use of this: As to the time of drinking it, at any time of the Day, unless withing two or three Hours of going to Bed, for it hinders Sleep, but its Operation does not last above two or three hours; you may not fear any hurt from the due and moderate Use of it.
Wow! I think I'll have another cup. And then another! Using a huge mug:


And while I thus improve my health with coffee, I'll head over to Bleubeard and Elizabeth's blog to see what everybody else is drinking on this T(ea) Tuesday.

Monday, February 02, 2015

Make Me a Pallet on the Floor

Make Me a Pallet on the Floor:



by Sam Chatmon, who was born in Bolton, Mississippi, (about 3 hours south of Memphis) in January, 1897, and who died on this date in 1983.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Best B-Movies

Paste Magazine has a list of "The 100 Best “B Movies” of All Time":
1. Hard Ticket to Hawaii 1987
2. The Room 2003
3. Birdemic 2008
4. Samurai Cop 1989
5. Troll 2 1990
6. Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon 2006
7. Crippled Avengers (aka Return of the 5 Deadly Venoms) 1978
8. Miami Connection 1987
9. Five Element Ninjas (aka Chinese Super Ninjas) 1982
10. She Woke Up Pregnant 1996
11. Plan 9 From Outer Space 1959
12. House on Haunted Hill 1959
13. Return of the Living Dead 1985
14. Thankskilling 2009
15. Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine 1965 (It's on my DVD rack waiting for me to watch it.)
16. To Die is Hard 2010
17. Enter the Ninja 1981
18. Dead Alive (aka Braindead) 1992
19. Moron Movies 1985
20. Chopping Mall 1986
21. I Am Here….Now 2009
22. Night of the Demons 1988
23. Black Samurai 1977
24. The Toxic Avenger 1984
25. Laser Mission 1989
26. Foxy Brown 1974
27. The Roller Blade Seven 1991
28. Undefeatable 1994
29. The Haunted Palace 1963
30. Time Chasers 1994
31. The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra 2001
32. The Incredible Shrinking Man 1967
33. Ben and Arthur 2002
34. Class of Nuke ’Em High 1986
35. FDR: American Badass 2012
36. Space Mutiny 1988
37. Hell Comes to Frogtown 1987
38. Death Race 2000 1975
39. Shark Attack 3: Megalodon 2002
40. Werewolf 1996
41. Masters of the Universe 1987
42. Cyborg 1989
43. Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors 1965
44. It Came From Beneath the Sea 1955
45. Ninja III: The Domination 1984
46. Killer Klowns from Outer Space 1988
47. The Barbarians 1987
48. Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 1987
49. Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! 1965
50. The Magic Sword 1962
51. Mortal Kombat: Annihilation 1997
52. Mac and Me 1988 (I didn't finish it.)
53. Future War 1997
54. C.H.U.D. 1984
55. Showdown in Little Tokyo 1991
56. Dinosaur Island 1994
57. Deadly Prey 1986
58. Master of the Flying Guillotine 1976
59. Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama 1988
60. The Tingler 1959
61. Any Bibleman film 1995-2011
62. Yor, the Hunter from the Future 1982
63. The Final Sacrifice 1990
64. King Kong Escapes 1967
65. The Stuff 1985
66. Megaforce 1982
67. Mr. Sardonicus 1961
68. The Valley of Gwangi 1969
69. Horror Express 1972
70. X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes 1963
71. Feast 2005
72. Cave Dwellers 1984
73. The Gingerdead Man 2005
74. Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead 2006
75. Robot Monster 1953
76. Santo y Blue Demon contra los monstruos (aka Santo and Blue Demon vs. the Monsters) 1969
77. Basket Case 1982
78. Dark and Stormy Night 2009
79. The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms 1953
80. Leprechaun 3 1995
81. Hobgoblins 1988
82. Double Trouble 1992
83. Alone in the Dark 2005
84. Piranha 1978
85. The Vampire Lovers 1970
86. The Blob 1958 and 1978
87. Ninja Terminator 1985
88. It’s Alive 1975
89. Dolemite 1975
90. Sharknado 2013
91. King Kong Lives 1986
92. Death Bed: The Bed That Eats 1977
93. Prophecy 1979
94. Foodfight! 2012
95. Mazes and Monsters 1982
96. Iron Sky 2012
97. I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle 1990
98. The Big Doll House 1971
99. Hercules in New York 1970
100. The Giant Claw 1957

The site says, "...the meaning of “best” here is “most entertaining,” ... If these films are painful, they’re also equally fun."

I've seen 17 of these if you count the one I didn't finish. I haven't even heard of most of them. Sometimes I think obscure films deserve their obscurity.