Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Coffee Plant


When I came across this tiny plant I picked it up immediately and brought it home. It's not like I ever expect to harvest coffee beans from it, but somehow I get a kick out of just knowing there's a coffee plant out on the patio.

Theses photos have been taken on my patio during the past week. I'm focusing on adding plants that attract butterflies and hummingbirds and add a few plants each summer. They all seem to like the Pentas:


The butterflies are partial to the lantana:


I have three pots of these: 2 are plants I bought in bloom this Spring, and 1 pot is a plant that over-wintered in my garage and hasn't bloomed yet.

I have a wild sunflower that is tall and lanky and which takes up to much space for my little patio. It has sentimental value, but I'm trying to find a sunflower that I like as much that's more suitable for my space. This year I bought three of this sunflower from the Lichterman Nature Center plant sale, and the first one has bloomed:


We had some strong rain storms this past week which knocked the sunflower blooms down, and I can see that I'll need shorter sunflowers to work in this flower bed. I'll keep that in mind for next year.

The daylilies came from Mother's yard, like the wild sunflower did, and these common field lilies do well in this sunny area:


I bought this Rue last year, and this is its first blooming:


The coneflower has started blooming just in the last several days:


This "May Night" Salvia is new this year:


The strawberry begonia started from a tiny little slip of a plant and is now spreading through the rocks that are up against the house:


This year we have a pair of Carolina Wrens nesting in a flower pot that came from my great Aunt Frankie's house:


This is Aunt Frankie and her house back in the late 1960s:


One of these days I'm going to edit these photos to sharpen them up. Then I'll frame some of them in a collage. But not today. I enjoy having things that belonged to previous generations. It makes me feel connected and reminds me of where I came from.

Yesterday the baby fledged,


and we had so much fun watching it and its parents fluttering around.

This is the view from my computer:


from right outside the sliding glass door I sit in front of. When I use my computer, I sit on the floor where I can see out onto the patio. The patio faces north, and these chairs are shaded in the afternoon. There's a hummingbird feeder that goes on that middle hook, but it was inside being cleaned when I took that photo. I do dearly love the patio. It's just the right size for me -plenty of space for pots, a couple of small beds for flowers, but not so much space that I can't keep up with it. Just right!

Please join the weekly T Tuesday gathering hosted at Bleubeard and Elizabeth's blog.

Monday, May 30, 2016

WWW: Watch


WWW: Watch is book 2 in a science fiction trilogy by Robert J. Sawyer. I've read the first one, and they should be read in order. I liked the first one, and I enjoyed this one even more, but the experience doesn't motivate me to seek out the third book. So many books, so little time, and all that. There are just so many books out there I haven't read, I'm thinking that book 3 of this series will never make it to the top of my list. I'm sure it'd be different if these had been available to me in my youth, but that ship had long sailed by the time of this book's publication in 2010. I find it hard to give a good sense of a book I enjoyed well enough but not well enough to consider finishing the series. It's a good book. But I'm moving on.

from the back of the book:
Blind from birth, Caitlin Decter received the gift of sight with the aid of a signal-processing retinal implant. The technology also gave her an unexpected side effect —the ability to "see" the digital data streams of the World Wide Web. And within the Web, she perceived an extraordinary presence, and woke it up.

It calls itself Webmind. It is an emerging consciousness that has befriended Caitlin and has grown eager to learn about her world. But Webmind has also come to the attention of WATCH —the secret United States government agency that monitors the Internet for any potential threats.


WATCH is convinced that Webmind represents a risk to national security and wants it purged from cyberspace. But Caitlin believes in Webmind's capacity for compassion —and she will do anything and everything necessary to protect her friend...
SF Signal calls it "A helluva fun read and an excellent science fiction book." SF Site gives a glowing review.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Purple Noon

Purple Noon is a 1960 Rene Clement film, an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's book The Talented Mr. Ripley. It's fairly faithful to the book, which might accurately be subtitled Character Study of a Psychopath.

I watched it via Hulu, but it's behind their paywall now. The trailers I've seen give away too much of the plot, so I won't embed one here.

Slant Magazine calls it "a French macaroon full of arsenic". The Guardian gives it 4 out of 5 stars and praises the lead actor's performance saying, "Delon's Ripley is a Dorian Gray portrait of male beauty and unscrupulous daring, untroubled by conscience."

DVD Talk concludes:
A lushly picturesque tale of identity crisis, inferiority complex, emotional tug-of-war, and disguised resentment, René Clément's Purple Noon (Plein soleil) is a paradoxical film whose particular mixture of ingredients is not quite like any other.
...
The result is something uniquely unsettling, a murder-mystery in which the murderer is really the sympathetic, "relatable" one, with his dark machinations played out for our riveted delectation under a cloudless, idyllic Mediterranean sky -a seductive nightmare in broad daylight. It's as ravishing, entertaining, and aesthetically/narratively skilled as you could hope for, with a career-making star turn by the impossibly beautiful Alain Delon that will surely captivate and/or arouse anyone who lays eyes on it until the end of time.
Roger Ebert gave it 3 out of 4 stars and has a thorough plot description. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 100%.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Killers (1946)

The Killers is a 1946 Robert Siodmak film noir starring Burt Lancaster (in his film debut), Ava Gardner (in her first major role), Edmond O'Brien, Sam Levene and featuring William Conrad in his first credited role. A classic noir, this is well-done.

trailer:



Slant Magazine says, "Robert Siodmak's The Killers is a thing of formal beauty —a significant title in our blossoming awareness of collected stylistics that are now called "film noir."" FilmReference.com concludes, "Siodmak's work occupies a central niche in the history of film theory, in film noir , and in the relations of cinema and literature."

The NYT has a review from the time of its release. DVD Talk calls it "definitely a top-ten title in the noir canon".

FilmSite.org describes it as "an intense, hard-edged, stylish film noir of robbery, unrequited love, brutal betrayal and double-cross". Criterion calls it an "archetypal masterpiece". Rotten Tomatoes has a critics rating of 100%.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Hellraiser: Bloodline

Hellraiser: Bloodline is 4th in the series. The 3rd one was such a disappointment for me, I approached this one with few expectations. With yet another director, Doug Bradley as Pinhead is the sole connection to previous films. An origin story for the puzzle box, this movie might've been better named Pinhead in Space, which is a common nickname for it. EW has this plot synopsis: "Essentially an anthology, the movie follows the descendants of the toy maker who first designed the notorious puzzle box that summons the S&M minions of the netherworld." It's very episodic, and I had trouble finding a through plotline.

trailer:



Empire Online says, "At barely 70 minutes long, this still manages to stammer and stall between the meaningless atrocities. It's time this series met Abbott and Costello." Moria says it "does not emerge as bad as word has it; on the other hand, it is never more than a routine film." Dread Central gives it a negative review and says, "Fifteen years later this is a film remembered for being the last Hellraiser film to hit theaters and nothing else. And that’s a shame."

HorrorNews.net closes with this:
Truth be told, I’m a little afraid to sit down and watch parts five through eight.

Though some how I doubt they could be as bad as “Pinhead in Space.”
DVD Verdict has a rare positive review. It has a 25% critics score at Rotten Tomatoes.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Making Things Better


Making Things Better is a 2002 novel by Anita Brookner. Brookner died this past March 10 at the age of 87. I always love her books. I love her writing, her plotting, her characterizations... I always feel like I know her characters, as if they are real people. This book is no exception.

from the dust jacket:
The Booker Prize-winning author of The Bay of Angels and Hotel du Lac, "one of the finest novelists of her generation" (The New York Times), now gives us a masterly new novel about the self-discoveries that come with maturity, and the eternal question confronted by people of all ages: What will I do with the rest of my life?

In this richly written, emotionally revealing novel, Brookner once again "works a spell on the reader" (The Washington Post Book World), as a man finds himself contemplating the difficult life questions: How is it all going to work out? What shall I do before the end? As Herz ponders proposing marriage to an old friend, making a trip to Paris to see a favorite painting, selling his home, moving, starting afrsh, he knows that he must do something with his remaining years. But what?

Brilliant, funny, profound, Making Things Better captures the quanries of aging: the misunderstanding of of an increasingly modern, alien world; awkward conversations with passersby; even more awkward encounters with longtime friends and acquaintances; the anxieties posed by age and uncertainty -and the bizarre, magnificent self-knowledge that perhaps only age, reflection, and experience can bring.
favorite quotes:
All the deaths were natural, yet all had an aura of horror. It was their lives rather than their deaths that were regrettable, and all the frustrated love that had failed to sweeten their end.
*******
Solitude had bred a stoicism which he hoped would see him through.
*******
"Of course I'll be lonely. But there's a loneliness that comes with age anyway. There's nothing I can do about that.
*******
Herz arranged the photographs on his desk, intent on examining what the past had contributed to his strange joyless present. He looked around the room to see if it were ready to welcome in some impossible but unknown, unhoped-for guest, saw that it was, as ever, immaculate, and with a sigh turned to the mute oblongs he habitually kept in a folder, in a suitcase, obscurely, and which he was now resigned to concealing forever. He felt a distaste, but also a curiosity that always accompanied this particular investigation: the photographs, of no conceivable relevance to anyone he currently knew, were to him a painful record of people whose hold on his affections had dwindled to almost nothing.

Yet he was bound to those people, had been formed by them, had now exhausted their legacy, such as it was, and considered himself the recipient of their various discontents, in comparison with which his own seemed somehow lightweight. It was a feeling of unworthiness, as if he had somehow got off scot-free, that contributed towards his ambivalence. Even the photographs served as a reminder of complicated familial unhappiness. He did not intend to look at them again, would put them away forever, to be thrown away after his death with the rest of his belongings, but conceived it as a duty to pass them once more in review before locking them away in the suitcase which would in turn take its place in the basement room he shared with others...
*******
Women aged as best they could, he supposed. He had not given the matter much thought. But age was a grievous business for everyone.
*******
"There comes a time in a woman's life when she no longer wants to make an effort, wants to let her hair go, wear comfortable shoes, stop trying to attract men. And yet there's a sadness in this. You lose a future."
*******


The NYT says,
For days after I finished the novel, I kept thinking about Julius Herz, as if he were someone I knew. Part of the reason he had such an effect was that Brookner never delivers a verdict on him: characteristically, she leaves that up to the reader. ... All she does is tell her stories. With her unfashionable restraint, with the glow of unshowy intelligence on every page she writes, with the brevity and directness of her novels, and with her self-effacing willingness to put her imagination entirely at the service of the story she's telling, Brookner is an artist of an exceptional purity.
Publishers Weekly says,
Brookner's gentle exploration of Julius's emotional dilemma is pursued with exquisite precision and empathy. In her novels, fate is cruel and hope of happiness a chimera, yet her characters are so fully realized that one feels the beat of life in their veins and longs for them to yield to their stifled urge for freedom.
Kirkus Reviews describes it as "Another intelligent, emotionally wounded protagonist muses on a life consumed by others’ expectations".

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

True Grit

True Grit is the 2010 Coen brothers remake of the 1969 John Wayne movie by the same name. This version has Jeff Bridges in the John Wayne role. I was quite prepared not to like this at all and had put it off for years, but it's a good movie. They did a great job of re-making a classic.

trailer:



The NYT has a positive review. Empire Online concludes: "Terrific: tough, exciting, funny, gorgeous and bewitchingly acted, this is darn close to perfection."

Roger Ebert gives it 3 1/2 out of 4 stars and gives high praise to Jeff Bridges. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 96%.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Body of a Girl

Body of a Girl is the debut novel by Leah Stewart. I admit I gave up on this one in some frustration fairly quickly. I picked it up because it takes place in Memphis, and I put it down -in part- because it was supposed to be taking place in Memphis. I wish the author had placed the book in a city with which I was unfamiliar or which she knew better. She mentions a few place names: Tom Lee Park, Midtown, Beale Street, the Peabody Hotel, the Pyramid... but even so, I had trouble placing the action here in Memphis. It's almost as if she'd never been here but had been given a rough geography, a few place names, and some vague generalizations about the city. It reminds me a bit of watching Memphis Beat, but picking out mistakes in that show was fun.

I was frustrated by her focus on the heat. The book takes place in June (or at least begins in June); and the word "heat" appears with undue frequency (every other page, to begin with with), and that doesn't include mentions of sweat, humidity, steam, efforts to deal with the heat, discomfort because of the heat.... It's not presented as an anomaly or a freak heat wave but as almost a character in its own right. I've never known it to be hot enough in June to warrant this kind of dedicated focus in a story that wasn't about the heat. Maybe the reporter is just delicate, sensitive to the heat?

She doesn't name the newspaper, but we only have one daily. I've never known a time where the reporter tasked with covering murders would've been a 25-year-old female "novice crime reporter" with no connections inside the police department. It just didn't ring true. Of course, the book was written 16 years ago, but still...

Some of her descriptions of un-named places didn't sound like places that I generally see here. I found her take on Graceland slightly off somehow. Oh, I don't know... It just didn't feel like Memphis to me.

from the back of the book:
In the Memphis summer, the heat clings heavily like a second skin. Olivia Dayle's job as a novice crime reporter is at once surreal -stepping into and out of strangers' lives with her notebook- and all too real. Partly out of gutsy ambition to get a front-page story and partly to reassure herself that this could not have been a random act, Olivia becomes determined to find out who the murderer of Allison Avery was. As she grows more and more obsessed with Allison, Olivia begins to shuck off her own cautious self and become everything she believes Allison was: charismatic, vivacious, and unafraid. She, too, begins to flirt with living as close to the edge as possible, with nearly tragic consequences. Taut and suspenseful, Body of a Girl is a powerful story of a young woman venturing into the unknown and questioning all her choices.
Now, on to more pleasant considerations.....

It's been over 3 weeks since I got this horrible respiratory virus, and I'm still coughing but am definitely on the mend. It's fun to be back for T Tuesday. The picture I'm sharing today has nothing to do with the book I talked about above but was painted by Russian artist Konstantin Ivanovich Gorbatov who died on this date in 1945:


Coffee by the Window was painted in the year of his death.

Please join the folks enjoying the weekly T Party over at Bleubeard and Elizabeth's blog.


Monday, May 23, 2016

Woman on the Run

Woman on the Run is a 1950 film noir. Ann Sheridan stars as a woman whose husband is on the run, wanted by the police as a witness in a mob hit. If you like noir, you'll like this.

via youtube:


The NYT says it's "melodrama of solid if not spectacular proportions." The Guardian calls it "a sharp, obscure little film".

Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 80%.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Hellbound: Hellraiser II and Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth

Hellbound: Hellraiser II, directed by Tony Randel, stars some of the same cast as the 1st one, is a direct sequel, and includes an origin story of sorts.

The Hellraiser series -9 in all plus a planned reboot film and upcoming TV series- is originally based on a Clive Barker novella The Hellbound Heart. The franchise obviously has a hold on the horror-loving crowd. I've read the novella and seen the first film. I have movies 2-8 and will be watching them all.

trailer:



Moria says the film "disappoints somewhat but is worthwhile." HorrorNews.net says, "Hellbound is the perfect horror sequel, hands down. Everything about this movie is fantastic and true to the world that Clive Barker set down in Hellraiser."

DVD Talk says,
Hellbound: Hellraiser II proves that sequels can be done well, with smarts and with style. Pinhead has since become a bit of a cliché but here he and his crew are still intense and frightening characters, nightmarish visions that have taken on humanoid form. It's not often you can call something a modern classic but the movie really is an expertly made and incredibly effective horror film well worth revisiting.
Slant Magazine gives it 2 out of 4 stars and says, "the sequel’s cure proves infinitely bloodier than the original’s disease". Slasher Studios Reviews says, "Hellraiser 2 stays true to the spirit of part 1 and is the only successful companion piece." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 50%.

Roger Ebert gives it 1/2 star and closes his review with this:
an ideal movie for audiences with little taste and atrophied attention spans who want to glance at the screen occasionally and ascertain that something is still happening up there. If you fit that description, you have probably not read this far, but what the heck, we believe in full-service reviews around here.

=========================

Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (1992) is 3rd in the series, and I wondered how that was possible after watching the 2nd one. If Pinhead is integral, how could the franchise continue after the ending of the 2nd film? I found out. This is definitely a step down.

trailer:



Empire Online says, "This is the sort of picture teenagers in malls in Akron, Ohio might understand — a good horror sequel, and that's all". Moria calls it "a big disappointment." HorrorNews.net concludes, "Straight up, this is a bad movie. Not “Sweet Jesus make it stop!” bad, but bad in the sense that you gather a group of friends, a case of beer and pizza and you don’t take it too seriously."

EW gives it a C-. DVD Verdict says, "the film has dark charms that should satisfy any fan of acupuncture's worst poster boy." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 17%.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

The Great Beauty

The Great Beauty is an award-winning 2013 Italian drama directed by Paolo Sorrentino. The main character is a writer who wrote one novel in his 20s and then began writing social columns and interviews. After his 65th birthday, he reflects on his life. This movie is a magical wonder, and I loved every moment.

"The most important thing I discovered a few days after turning 65 
is that I can't waste any more time doing things I don't want to do."

I watched via Hulu.

trailer:



The NYT calls it "A deliriously alive movie". Senses of Cinema says, "The film is feast for the senses, a synaesthetic experience of visual images, words, and music that cannot shade, but rather highlights, the desolation of the world represented."

Roger Ebert's site gives it a full 4 stars and calls it "a character study that presents contemporary Rome through the eyes of Jep Gambardella (the brilliant Toni Servillo), a simultaneously overstimulated and underwhelmed taste-making intellectual." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 91%.

Friday, May 20, 2016

The Road

The Road is a 2009 post-apocalyptic film based on the book by Cormac McCarthy. This is such a sad film! It's one of the saddest I've ever seen. The book itself is a reworking of a well-worn post-apocalyptic trope. I never understood the attention McCarthy received for the book, since it has been done so well and so often so many times before. The film, which stars Viggo Mortensen, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Robert Duvall, Charlize Theron, and Guy Pearce, is a faithful adaptation. I'd highly recommend this even to folks new to this sub-genre. But it is sad.

trailer:



The NYT says, "The most arresting aspect of “The Road” is just how fully the filmmakers have realized this bleak, blighted landscape of a modern society reduced to savagery." The Guardian concludes, "It is an inexpressibly painful subject and Hillcoat has brought it to the screen with great intelligence." Rolling Stone closes with this: "In this haunting portrait of America as no country for old men or young, Hillcoat — through the artistry of Mortensen and Smit-McPhee — carries the fire of our shared humanity and lets it burn bright and true."

Time Out says,
the central purpose is to break your heart and shatter your soul. On which level, Hillcoat’s movie is a resounding triumph. Stunning landscape photography sets the melancholy mood, and Nick Cave’s wrenching score reinforces it. But it is the performances that ultimately hold the film together. We expect this kind of selfless professionalism from Mortensen.

Roger Ebert gives it 3 1/2 out of 4 stars. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 75%.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Django Unchained

Django Unchained is a modern addition to a long-standing string of movies with the word "Django" in the title. Except for having been inspired by the 1966 Sergio Corbucci film, I don't see a connection. But that's ok. Many of these films have nothing to do with each other. This Quentin Tarantino movie has been called an homage. I'm glad I saw it, both because I'm gradually working my way through the Django movies and because Tarantino is worth checking out. I won't see it again. For one thing, I like my Django films to be Spaghetti Westerns, and this is not anything I can classify.

trailer:



The New Yorker calls it a "crap masterpiece". The NYT says it's "crazily entertaining, brazenly irresponsible and also ethically serious in a way that is entirely consistent with its playfulness."

EW has a B- review. Rolling Stone says, "Welcome to alternative History 101 with Professor Quentin Tarantino" and closes with this: "Wake up, people. Tarantino lives to cross the line. Is Django Unchained too much? Damn straight. It wouldn't be Tarantino otherwise."

Empire Online gives it a good review and says, "Django Unchained isn’t a Western. Tarantino himself has said, if anything, it should be tagged a ‘Southern’" and concludes:
Another strong, sparky and bloody entry in the QT canon. Although, creaking under its running time, it’s not quite as uproariously entertaining as his last pseudo-historical adventure, Inglourious Basterds.
Roger Ebert gave it a full 4 stars and calls Tarantino "a consummate filmmaker." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics rating of 88%.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A Picnic at Shelby Forest State Park


Picnics are my favorite things, and one day last month we took a bite to eat to Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park. We ate at a picnic area away from the lake at the edge of the woods.


We just grabbed a little something on the way -nothing elaborate:


After we ate, we drove down to Poplar Lake:


and spent some time observing the owl:


and the hawk:


at the Nature Center. The birds are injured and not releaseable and are used for educational programs at the park.


There are trails, but we didn't do any hiking this time. This park is about a 45-minute drive for us, and we just never go there. We have so many good picnic spots closer. I do want to go back soon to explore the trails.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Stairway 42


Welcome to the stairs leading up to the railroad tracks.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

City of Scars

City of Scars is a 2010 fan-made short film about Batman and set in the Arkham Asylum. Created by a long-time Batman fan with a budget of $27,000, it was shot in 21 days. It's a remarkable film, both in how faithful it is to the characters and the universe and in how well it's done on a limited budget. If you're not already a fan, I doubt this will convert you; but it's a fun addition to the character.

via Youtube:



There is a 2011 sequel, Seeds of Arkham, shorter at 8 minutes:



via Open Culture, where they say, "City of Scars, and its 2011 sequel, Seeds of Arkham ... have garnered a generous helping of attention and awards (The Wall Street Journal called City of Scars “impressive”)".

Monday, May 09, 2016

Shoot Out

Shoot Out is a 1971 Gregory Peck Western. This is a traditional revenge western with the addition of a little girl. I don't usually like westerns that feature kids, but this is a delightful character in a movie worth watching.

an early scene:



full film via Youtube:



The NYT has a mixed review, calling it " no more than another variation of the eternal tale of the Westerner (Gregory Peck) released from prison who seeks revenge on the pal who betrayed him".

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Night and the City

Night and the City is a 1950 Jules Dassin film noir starring Richard Widmark and Gene Tierney. Gene Tierney is priceless always, and this movie is worth watching.

via Youtube:


Slant Magazine gives it a full 4 stars and calls it "the archetypal film noir." FilmsNoir.net calls it "one of the great noirs: a near-perfect work."

Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 79% and an audience rating of 89%.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Mouchette

Mouchette is a 1967 French film directed by Robert Bresson. It's based on the Georges Bernanos novel by the same name. A poor, unlikable young teen girl deals with a terminally ill mother, alcoholic father and infant brother. This is the perfect film for those times when you need your exuberant cheerfulness reigned in and all the joy sucked out of your life. You can follow it with Bicycle Thieves and just wallow in the sadness and depression and hopelessness.

There are some clips at TCM, but I can't find anything that shows up here when I try to embed it. Maybe that's a safety feature? Limiting people's exposure to such depressing material?

Time Out calls it "a magnificent and deeply rewarding example of Bresson's stripped-down methods of cutting and framing, sound and dialogue, performance and movement." DVD Talk calls it "a devastating examination of human cruelty".
FilmRef.com says, "Bresson creates a metaphor for the fractured soul. ... In essence, we are Mouchette - foundering and incomplete - seeking redemption from the misery of existence, incapable of articulating the pain -resigned to our own private hell." Ruthless Culture says the film "seems bleak to the point of outright nihilism". Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 87%.

Friday, May 06, 2016

The Rider on the White Horse


The Rider on the White Horse is the 1888 novella and best-known work of German author Theodor Storm, pictured above. It was his last work and was completed in the year he died. It could be described as weird fiction. It's in the public domain and can be read online. I read it here. You can listen to it here or here.

It begins:
WHAT I am about to tell I learned nearly half a century ago in the house of my great-grand-mother, old Madame Fedderson, widow of the senator, while I was sitting beside her armchair, busy reading a magazine bound in blue pasteboard-I don't remember whether it was a copy of the "Leipzig" or of "Pappes Hamburger Lesefruchte." I still remember with a shudder how meanwhile the light hand of the past eighty-year-old woman glided tenderly over the hair of her great-grandson. She herself and her time are buried long ago. In vain have I searched for that magazine, and therefore I am even less able to vouch for the truth of the statements in it than I am to defend them if anyone should question them; but of so much I can assure anyone, that since that time they have never been forgotten, even though no outer incident has revived them in my memory.

It was in the third decade of our century, on an October afternoon-thus began the story-teller of that time-that I rode through a mighty storm along a North Frisian dike. For over an hour I had on my left the dreary marshland, already deserted by all the cattle; on my right, unpleasantly near me, the swamping waters of the North Sea. I saw nothing, however, but the yellowish-grey waves that beat against the dike unceasingly, as if they were roaring with rage, and that now and then bespattered me and my horse with dirty foam; behind them I could see only chaotic dusk which did not let me tell sky and earth apart, for even the half moon which now stood in the sky was most of the time covered by wandering clouds. It was ice cold; my clammy hands could scarcely hold the reins, and I did not wonder that the croaking and cackling crows and gulls were always letting themselves be swept inland by the storm. Nightfall had begun, and already I could no longer discern the hoof of my horse with any certainty. I had met no human soul, heard nothing but the screaming of the birds when they almost grazed me and my faithful mare with their long wings, and the raging of the wind and water. I cannot deny that now and then I wished that I were in safe quarters.

It was the third day that this weather had lasted, and I had already allowed an especially dear relative to keep me longer than I should have done on his estate in one of the more northern districts. But to-day I could not stay longer. I had business in the city which was even now a few hours' ride to the south, and in spite of all the persuasions of my cousin and his kind wife, in spite of the Perinette and Grand Richard apples still to be tried, I had ridden away.

"Wait till you get to the sea," he had called after me from his house door. "You will turn back. Your room shall be kept for you."

And really, for a moment, when a black layer of clouds spread pitch-darkness round me and at the same time the howling squalls were trying to force me and my horse down from the dike, the thought shot through my head: "Don't be a fool! Turn back and stay with your friends in their warm nest."
....
The New Yorker calls it "long on atmosphere". The Washington Post calls it "a disturbing prose-poem". Kirkus Reviews concludes "There is nothing better in German fiction prior to the work of Thomas Mann."

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Gun Crazy

Gun Crazy is a 1950 film noir starring Peggy Cummins (who was in Night of the Demon with Dana Andrews), John Dall (Rope, Spartacus), and Russ Tamblyn (Gideon, the youngest brother in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers; Riff, the leader of the Jets in West Side Story; The Haunting; Babylon 5).

I found this a bit heavy-handed, even preachy, but the critics love it.

via veoh.com:


Images Journal closes its review with this:
Gun Crazy is one of the great American movies, a giddily romantic story of two people who thrive off of each other and only completely come to life when in each other's presence. Some people might call Citizen Kane the great American movie. I might just opt for Gun Crazy instead.

Slant Magazine gives it 3 out of 4 stars and talks about Freud and phallic symbolism. FilmSite.org says, "the forerunner of director Arthur Penn's Bonnie and Clyde (1967), is considered by many to be the ultimate B-movie - with film noirish elements." DVD Talk says, "It's one of the most popular films noir because, like Kiss Me Deadly, it's just so much fun."

It's listed in the book 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die. TCM has information. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 97%.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Java Jive

Java Jive:



by The Ink Spots from 1940.

lyrics:
I love coffee, I love tea
I love the java jive and it loves me
Coffee and tea and the java and me
A cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, boy

I love java, sweet and hot
Whoops, Mr. Moto, I'm a coffee pot
Shoot me the pot and I'll pour me a shot
A cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup

Oh, slip me a slug from the wonderful mug
I'll cut a rug till I'm snug in a jug
A slice of onion and a raw one, draw one
Waiter, waiter, percolator

I love coffee, I love tea
I love the java jive and it loves me
Coffee and tea and the java and me
A cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup

Ooh, Boston beans, soy beans
Green beans, cabbage and greens
I'm not keen of buying a bean
Unless it is a cheery, cheery bean boy

I love coffee, I love tea
I love the java jive and it loves me
Coffee and tea and the java and me
A cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, yeah

I love java, sweet and hot
Whoops, Mr. Moto, I'm a coffee pot
Shoot me the pot and I'll pour me a shot
A cup, a cup, a cup, yeah

Oh, trow me that slug from the wonderful mug
And I'll cut a rug till I'm snug in a jug
Drop a nickel in my pot, Joe, a take 'em slow
Waiter, waiter, percolator

I love coffee, I love tea
I love the java jive and it loves me
Coffee and tea and the java and me, yeah
A cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, bong
Check out the Tuesday gathering at Bleubeard and Elizabeth's blog, where we share beverage-related posts once a week.

This post has been scheduled in advance. I have a bad cough, congestion and achiness -seems to be a virus that's going around- and I feel terrible. Chances are I'm drinking hot, sweet tea (my beverage of choice when I'm puny). I'm probably piled up in bed or on the couch in front of a movie, and I won't be able to visit folks. Stay well, and I'll visit next week.

Monday, May 02, 2016

The Touch

The Touch is a 1971 Ingmar Bergman film starring Elliott Gould, Bibi Andersson and Max von Sydow. Opinions on Bergman differ in our house. I like his work and have yet to see one of his films I wouldn't watch again. The Younger Son won't watch anything else by him, having not liked what he's seen so far. The Husband is indifferent. This is far from Bergman's best film and certainly not one to watch if you haven't already seen movies by this director. That said, I found it an interesting look at a marriage and the affair that made everything worse.

from the IMDb:
A seemingly happy Swedish housewife and mother begins an adulterous affair with a foreign archaeologist who is working near her home. But he is an emotionally scarred man, a Jewish survivor from a concentration camp who found refuge in the U.S.,and, consequently, their relationship will be painfully difficult. -Written by h9g
via Youtube:



Senses of Cinema calls it a disaster. Roger Ebert doesn't like it, calling it "not only a disappointment but an unexpected failure of tone from a director to whom tone has usually been second nature." It has a 50% critics score at Rotten Tomatoes.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

On May 1, 1990, something changed inside me

May 1, 1990:



by Adrian Belew

Lyrics excerpt:
I lived inside a tear
Time magnified my fear
That the world around me
Was only getting more severe

On May 1, 1990
Something changed inside me
And I, I saw the stars align
And I knew that it was meant to be

I didn't know at the time
My heart was on the line
But the world was turning
And suddenly the sun was shining

On May 1, 1990
Something changed inside me
And I, I saw the stars align
And I knew that it was meant to be

In a city by the sun
A city by the sun
In a city by the sun