Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Easiest (for me) Houseplants

I don't like babying and pampering plants only to have them die on me. I'm willing to try a plant 2 or 3 times, but if it continues to die I don't get more of them. Jade plants, for example, always die at my hands. I've had several over a span of decades, and they always die. I've been told how easy they are. I've been shown fine specimens that have survived abuse at the hands of others. I'm done. Truly. I'll give my love to plants that seem to appreciate it.

These are the plants that seem to most appreciate what I'm able to provide:



Pothos is generally considered one of the easiest. I have several, including the mother plant that came from my great aunt's house by way of my mother. There are care tips at HealthyHouseplants.com, BalconyContainerGardening.com, OurHouseplants.com, and WikiHow.



The Peace Lily is another plant universally acclaimed as being easy as pie. I'm telling you, I just don't mess with delicate flowers that languish. Like with pothos, I have several of these, as I separate them and plant them in smaller pots. Large pots are just too difficult for me to manage as I move them onto my patio during the warmer weather. Southern Living Magazine calls it the perfect house plant. See care instructions at HealthyHouseplants.com, BalconyContainerGardening.com, OurHouseplants.com, and WikiHow.

Sansevieria (mother-in-law tongue or snake plant):


The start of this plant came in a dish garden that was sent to my daddy's funeral. One by one, all the other plants died, but my mother kept re-potting this into bigger pots as it grew and grew. She eventually divided it, and my sister and I each got a huge plant. I have several of these, too. It will bloom, which surprises people who keep them in dark corners. These websites (and many others, of course) provide information on caring for these plants: HealthyHouseplants.com, OurHouseplants.com, and WikiHow.

Rubber Tree:


My rubber tree is entirely too big, multi-branched and in a pot that's awkward and takes up too much space inside. Every year I take cuttings and pot them in small pots and vow to get rid of the big plant. Every year it somehow ends up back inside for the winter. Maybe this year.... Care instructions can be found at OurHousePlants.com and WikiHow, among other places.

Dracaena Marginata:


Here's another one I have several of. When my original plant got too tall, I cut off the top and stuck it down in the pot. The one end sprouted new growth, and the other rooted. I was amazed. You can find care instructions online, including at OurHousePlants.com and WikiHow

There are several other kinds of houseplants I have, but I haven't had them long enough to know if they'll thrive where I am. I'm pretty sure my one attempt at an orchid is a failure, as it was in bloom when I got it but now -3 years later- it hasn't bloomed again. The verdict's still out on my asparagus fern and my parlor palm, though I have high hopes for them. Succulents don't do well for me, and neither do Norfolk Island Pines. Both of these have been popular at various times, and I've tried to grow them but failed each time.

I'm always looking for suggestions for easy-to-grow houseplants that would be happy on the patio during the warmer weather.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Coffee with James Baldwin


James Baldwin was an American author, who moved to France when he was 24 and lived there much of the rest of his life. He found the prejudice in the USA against African Americans and homosexuals frustrating and sought a more congenial environment. He died of cancer on December 1, 1987, when he was 63 years old. The photo above was taken in France.

from his 1956 novel Giovanni's Room:
Sometimes, in the days which are coming -God grant me the grace to live them- in the glare of the grey morning, sour-mouthed, eyelids raw and red, hair tangled and damp from my stormy sleep, facing, over coffee and cigarette smoke, last night's impenetrable, meaningless boy who will shortly rise and vanish like the smoke, I will see Giovanni again, as he was that night, so vivid, so winning, all of the light of that gloomy tunnel trapped around his head.
from "A Negro Assays on the Negro Mood," The New York Times, 12 March 1961:
At the rate things are going here, all of Africa will be free before we can get a lousy cup of coffee.
I think the coffee maker in the photo here is of an espresso maker. One of these days, I think I'd enjoy having an espresso machine to play with. I don't want to spend money on an expensive electric contraption, and the only stovetop units I've seen work better on a gas stove. I've quit actively searching for one, but perhaps I'll come across something someday.

Please join the T Tuesday gathering hosted by Bleubeard and Elizabeth and share your beverage of choice with us.

When Harry Met Sally

When Harry Met Sally 1989 Rob Reiner comedy starring Billy Crystal, Meg Ryan, and Carrie Fisher. The Husband and I both enjoyed this one. It's a really sweet -but not too sweet- romantic comedy. I chose it because part of it takes place during the fall of the year. There are also a couple of Christmas and New Year's Eve scenes, so this would make a good change from the usual holiday mainstays.

trailer:


The Guardian has a positive review. Rolling Stone calls it "a ravishing, romantic lark brimming over with style, intelligence and flashing wit."

Roger Ebert says, "what makes it special, apart from the Ephron screenplay, is the chemistry between Crystal and Ryan." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 89%.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Christmas Movies


As you start getting in the mood for Christmas and are looking for something to watch, I'd like to invite you to check out a list of holiday fare here. They are in order by year, oldest listed first, and many are available to watch online. You can find everything from live action and cartoon shorts dating from the early days of film to names of current TV show episodes.

May I ask a favor? Two favors, actually:
  1. If you see any links that aren't working I'd appreciate a heads up in the comment section of the defective post; and
  2. Please pass along any suggestions for seasonal shows I've missed.
Thanks!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Day the Rabbi Resigned


The Day the Rabbi Resigned by Harry Kemelman is the 11th in the 12 Rabbi Small mystery series. I like these books. I enjoy the Rabbi and his wife Miriam, and I've learned a lot about Jewish religious life from them. I pick these books up whenever I come across them.

from the dust jacket:
So he's back. Rabbi David Small, that is. The best-loved and most unorthodox rabbi ever seen in or out of temple. Part Talmudic scholar, part Sherlock Holmes, Rabbi Small has been delighting mystery fans for twenty-five years. The New Yorker calls Harry Kemelman's Rabbi Small books "first rate" and The Cleveland Plain Dealer says they are "delightfully different." The Houston Chronicle declares him "America's favorite kosher detective."

Now the bad news. The rabbi wants to leave. Although his years at Barnard's Crossing have never been dull, Rabbi Small is bored with clerical duties and wants to teach. But before he can say alma mater, the rabbi is enlisted by Police Chief Hugh Lanigan, his partner in crime-solving, to set his scholar's mind to a drunk driving accident that looks like murder.

Victor Joyce, a local college professor who'd do anything for tenure, was known around the quad as much for his extracurricular activities as for his classroom demeanor. Joyce had been drinking heavily the night his car was stopped by a massive tree trunk on the side of a dark road. But when Dr. Abner Gorfinkle passed by the wreck, the victim was definitely not dead, just unconscious -which makes Rabbi Small consider the victim's demise a suspicious turn of events indeed.

Chief Lanigan and the wise rabbi discover that there were quite a number of "innocent" citizens driving down the seldom-used road on that rainy Saturday night. And any one of them could have had it in for the not-so-revered-professor. But it is Rabbi Small, combining the wisdom of Solomon with an analyst's understanding of his fellow man (and woman), who ingeniously lays out all the answers like a delicious holiday feast.
The New York Times says, "Very smooth, this, and wonderfully sly." Publishers Weekly closes by saying, "Lively dialogue, dry wit and wonderfully authentic detail make this a sure winner." Kirkus Reviews has a short review.

I've read these:
#1 Friday the Rabbi Slept Late (1964) (read in January, 2006)
#3 Sunday the Rabbi Stayed Home
#6 Wednesday the Rabbi Got Wet
#7 Thursday the Rabbi Walked Out
#10 One Fine Day the Rabbi Bought a Cross (1987) (read in March, 2006)



Friday, November 25, 2016

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Blue Calhoun

photo from Amazon.com

Blue Calhoun is a 1992 novel by Reynolds Price. from the back of the book:
"This starts with the happiest I ever was, though it brought down suffering on everybody near me. Short as it lasted and long ago, I've never laid it all out yet, not start to finish. But if I try and half succeed, you may wind up understanding things, choosing a better road for yourself and maybe not blaming the dead past but living for the here and now, each day a clean page."

April 28, 1956, was the day Blue Calhoun met a sixteen-year-old girl named Luna. And for the next three decades, their love has borne consequences of the most shattering -- and ultimately, perhaps healing -- kind for everyone they know. As Blue recounts the years and their events for us -- fervently, tenderly, knowing full well his own deep responsibility -- we are made witnesses to a story of classic dimensions, a story of love and suffering, family and friendship, death and redemption.
I started this book, having read and enjoyed novels by this author before, but I didn't finish it. I'll just say I agreed with these reviewers and let it go at that:

The New York Times closes with this: "Reynolds Price is too good a novelist to continue in this vein very long. I would like to think that something more characteristic of his strengths is already in the works." Kirkus Reviews calls it a melodrama and concludes, "The characters speak to each other in conspicuously sad/wise parables; themes are paired too smoothly; and a certain gooey smugness -in the classical self-condemnatory/self-congratulatory mode- lurks everywhere."

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Hour of the Wolf

Hour of the Wolf is a 1968 Ingmar Bergman psychological/horror film starring Max von Sydow and Liv Ullmann. I am alone in my family for liking Bergman's films, but I always seem to get into them.

You can watch it online at Veoh.com. or via Youtube:



Empire Online concludes, "A must for fans of horror and of Bergman. So good it makes you wish he had dabbled in the genre that bit more often." Bright Lights Film Journal has an article. Moria gives it 4 out of 5 stars. DVD Talk gives it a positive review.

HorrorNews.net says,
Explained in the film’s tagline, “The hour of the wolf is the hour between night and dawn. It is the hour when most people die, when sleep is deepest, when nightmares are most real. It is the hour when the sleepless are haunted by their deepest fear, when ghosts and demons are most powerful. It is also the hour when most children are born.” And so the audience must decipher whether these fears and demons are physical or psychological.

The New York Times says, "it is unthinkable for anyone seriously interested in movies not to see it." Time Out calls it "A brilliant Gothic fantasy".

Roger Ebert says, "if we allow the images to slip past the gates of logic and enter the deeper levels of our mind, and if we accept Bergman's horror story instead of questioning it, "Hour of the Wolf" works magnificently." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 88%.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Lost Pizza


We have always been huge fans of Memphis Pizza Cafe and get pizza there almost weekly, or, well, we used to. However, we have recently found out that they are continuing supporters of a major Memphis Zoo event that involves massive overflow parking with drivers directed out onto the open green space in one of our large city parks. As you probably can realize, open green space in urban areas is rare and valuable, and there's been much controversy -especially in the last several years- over the zoo administration's continued abuse of our Greensward for this purpose. That Memphis Pizza Cafe would enable this destruction of a free common green space shocked us, especially in view of the fact that this is a huge local story and they've been asked to refrain from participation. We won't be going back there until they stop supporting this.

That has led us to search for other local pizzas, and we have happily settled in at Lost Pizza, which is a locally-owned part of a regional chain. Locations are all in Mississippi except for one in Jonesboro, AR, and the one here in Memphis.

The interior is fun:




The pizza is great! You can view their menu here. Here's what I got at two recent visits:

tomato and spinach
Happy Hippie

That first drink is water and the second was Coke. The Husband and The Younger Son are meat eaters, so my veggie choice wouldn't do for them. The Younger son favors Italian sausage, and you can see his in the background of the first photo. I didn't get a picture of The Husband's selection, but I think he got ground beef, maybe. We are impressed and quite satisfied with our find. There's also a covered patio where we sat the last time we went:


Just in case you're unfamiliar with the controversy involving the zoo administration's encroachment into and destruction of the larger park in which they are located, I'll offer a few links detailing that history and a few photos.
We want this:


Not this:



And lately, they've taken to directing drivers into the protected Old Forest. Here's an example of what happened to four acres of Old Forest they decided to clearcut when they wanted to build an exhibit there:


So, as sad as it makes me, no more Memphis Pizza Cafe for my family. Not until they stop enabling this abuse. But Lost Pizza is very good, so there's that.

I'm offering this rant, and pizza, and Coke to the participants of the weekly T Tuesday gathering hosted by Bleubeard and Elizabeth. Please bring a drink and join us!

Jerky Turkey

Jerky Turkey is a 1945 animated short film directed by Tex Avery. A "historical" film, opening with the landing of the pilgrims in 1620 7/8. The deliberate historical anachronisms are cute. The shooting of the turkey is the main plot.

via Youtube:


The cartoonish stereotypes are stunning to see these days.


Sunday, November 20, 2016

Autumn in New York

Autumn in New York is a 2000 drama movie starring Richard Gere and Winona Ryder as star-crossed lovers. I chose this because it takes place in the fall of the year. A more depressing film you could never want to see, but it's not touching in a way that brings a tear to the eye or an ache in the heart. No, it's just tiresomely depressing. I've got other problems with it -it's choppy, slow, dreary, Gere's character makes no sense, etc.- but they aren't worth going into since it's sooo depressing. Or maybe it's just so bad that the story never reached me. Yeah, I think that's it.

trailer:



The Guardian has the only positive review I saw.

The NYT has a negative review and calls it "a flagrantly old-fashioned, triple-hankie tear-jerker". New York Magazine says, "Autumn in New York is terrible". Empire Online gives it 1 out of 5 stars and concludes, "By the halfway mark you'll be desperate for Ryder to end her misery and yours."

BBC says it "proves unsettling thanks to the nauseating amount of glucose sentiment that infuses this predictable slice of doomed amour." Entertainment Weekly calls it "tastefully embarrassing". People opens a negative review with this: "They don’t make ’em like they used to, and Autumn in New York proves that maybe it’s time to stop trying."

Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 20%.




Saturday, November 19, 2016

Outsider in Amsterdam


Outsider in Amsterdam is the first book in the Gripstra and de Gier detective series by Janwillem van de Wetering, who died in 2008 at the age of 77. This book was published in 1975, and books followed every year or so. The fourteenth and last in the series was published in 1997. The author may be gone, but I have a delightful time ahead of me reading the rest of these books.

from the back of the book:
On a quiet street in downtown Amsterdam, a man is found hanging from the ceiling beam of his bedroom, upstairs from the new religious society he founded: a group that calls itself "Hindist" and supposedly mixes elements of various Eastern traditions. Detective-Adjutant Gripstra and Sergeant de Gier of the Amsterdam police are sent to investigate what looks like a simple suicide, but they are immediately suspicious of the circumstances.

This now-classic novel, first published in 1975, introduces Janwillem van de Wetering's lovable Amsterdam cop duo of portly, worldly-wise Gripstra and handsome, contemplative de Gier. With its unvarnished depiction of Dutch colonialism and the darker facets of Amsterdam's free drug culture, this excellent procedural asks the question of whether a murder may ever be justly committed.
The New York Journal of Books says,
Soho Crime has reissued Outsider in Amsterdam as one of 25 “classic” mysteries to celebrate the imprint’s 25th anniversary. The book certainly lives up to that “classic” billing and should definitely be read (or reread) for its unforgettable characters, unexpected plot twists, dry humor, and presentation of the facts in a way that lets the reader sift through them along with the detectives.
Kirkus Reviews concludes with this: "Originally conceived and exceptionally well-written with lots of cross-cultural exotica to inform the trip."

Friday, November 18, 2016

Facebook 42


I came across this as someone's Facebook profile picture. I have no personal connection, which I find oddly sad. We have something in common, after all!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Holiday For Drumsticks

Holiday For Drumsticks is a 1949 Merrie Melodies short animated film, in which a jealous Daffy Duck sees the feast fed to the turkey to fatten it up for Thanksgiving.


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Three-Body Problem


The Three-Body Problem is a 2008 science fiction novel by Cixin Liu. Written in Chinese, it was translated into English by Ken Liu. It is the first book in a trilogy. I found it slow going while reading, but now that I'm done I find myself continuing to think about it and looking forward to the next book. It won the 2015 Hugo.

from the back of the book:
With The Three-Body Problem, English-speaking readers got their first chance to experience the multiple-award-winning and bestselling Three-Body Trilogy by China's most beloved science fiction author, Cixin Liu. Now the opening volume of the series is available in paperback for the first time. Set against the backdrop of China's Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion. The result is a science fiction masterpiece of enormous scope and vision.
The NYT has a positive review. NPR praises it concluding, "as a science-fiction epic of the most profound kind, it's already won." The Wall Street Journal concludes: "Not a page-turner, but packed with a sense of wonder, coupled to human experiences few of us have had to face."

Locus says,
The main reason The Three-Body Problem is noteworthy is that it’s for the most part a compelling piece of work, brilliantly translated by Ken Liu, whose astonishing con­trol of tone lets us experience the novel as a speculative thriller without losing the sense of Chinese language and culture that makes it uniquely different from the familiar rhythms of Western SF.
SF Reviews closes with this: "The Three-Body Problem aims high and then higher, which ought to be the goal of science fiction generally. While its breathtaking vision is occasionally tripped up by shortcomings in storytelling, it remains a true achievement by an important writer on the global SF scene." Eyrie has a mixed review. Strange Horizons says, "The science is very convincing and up to date, but as a science fiction novel The Three-Body Problem feels like something written in the days of Asimov and Clarke. Devotees of hard science fiction will find a lot to like".


Monday, November 14, 2016

Still Life with Coffeepot

Still Life with Coffeepot:


by Camille Pissarro, who died on November 13, 1903, in Paris at the age of 73.

I have a number of coffee pots, none of which look anything like the one in this painting. I have 2 drip coffee makers (different sizes), 2 French presses (different sizes), a 6-cup Chemex pourover and a 1-cup pour-over. Spoiled for choice, aren't we! I do have an insulated thermal carafe, though, and a carafe is what this picture looks like to me rather than a coffee pot. I'm just probably misusing the word "pot" here.

Please join the bloggers who gather for a weekly "T" to share a drink of one form or another. Bleubeard and Elizabeth are our hosts, and you'll find a warm welcome there.

Was it here or yesterday, or wasn't it the 14th of november

Things in My Life:



by Men Without Hats

Lyrics excerpt:
We can never remember the things we always forget
Things like polyester pants and shoes don't make it easy to remember
Was it here or yesterday, or wasn't it the 14th of november

Well I think that I'm in scotland
And I'm walking through a forest in the rain
And I wonder if I'll fall in love again

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Autumn Tale

Autumn Tale is a 1998 French film directed by Eric Rohmer. It is a love story about a woman, a lonely widow with two grown children, whose friends want to help her meet a suitable man. It's a beautiful, delicately told story, with sweet touches of humor. You can't go wrong spending time watching this movie.

via Vimeo:



Senses of Cinema says, "Autumn Tale is practically flawless; a musical and lyrical exploration of middle-age life." Empire Online says the director "has found a fresh spin on old obsessions -the pursuit of romance, the differences between the sexes- turning in a sprightly, hugely enjoyable treat that renders many of his younger counterparts leaden by comparison."

CNN says, "There's a sensuality to Rohmer's films that informs even the most mundane situations, and his vital take on the complexities of modern love never reveals the advanced age of the man behind the camera.... Rohmer's films are like lazy afternoons, but the director always keeps it interesting." The Telegraph calls it "playful". Boston Review says it "finds a world of beauty in the lives of women."

Roger Ebert gives it 4 out of 4 stars and says this of the director:
His movies are about love, chance, life and coincidence; he creates plots that unfold in a series of delights, surprises and reversals. When there is a happy ending, it arrives as a relief, even a deliverance, for characters who spend much of the movie on the very edge of missing out on their chances for happiness.
Rotten Tomatoes gives it a critics score of 94%.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

East of Eden


East of Eden is a 1952 John Steinbeck novel, a multi-generation saga tracking the connections between two families. Steinbeck considered this his magnum opus. Back in 2003 it was chosen for Oprah's book club (where it's described as "Three generations, two love triangles, one timeless story. East of Eden is an epic novel full of good and evil, love and hatred, failure and redemption"), and I meant to read it then but never did. Better late than never. This is a powerful novel I really should have read earlier in life. High school, maybe, or college at the latest.

from the back of the book:
This masterpiece of Steinbeck's later years -a powerful and
vastly ambitious novel that is at once a family saga and a
modern retelling of the Book of Genesis.

In his journal, John Steinbeck called East of Eden "the first book," and indeed it has the primordial power and simplicity of myth. Set in the rich farmland of California's Salinas Valley, this sprawling and often brutal novel follows the intertwined destinies of two families -the Trasks and the Hamiltons- whose generations helplessly reenact the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel. Here is the work in which Steinbeck created his most mesmerizing characters and explored his most enduring themes: the mystery of identity; the inexplicability of love, and the murderopus consequences of love's absence.
Biography.com has an article on how Steinbeck's life led up to the writing of this book:
East of Eden is an experimental book that captures Steinbeck’s wide vocal reach: his sturdy love of place; his fascination with the fictive process; his retelling of family stories; and his willingness to grapple with the full range of human experience—at its lowest ebb and swelling to startling acts of clarity and compassion.
The Yale Review of Books discusses its choice as an Oprah book club selection. Kirkus Reviews opens by calling it "Tremendous in scope- tremendous in depth of penetration".

Friday, November 11, 2016

Alice's Restaurant (film)

Alice's Restaurant is a 1969 movie based on the song by Arlo Guthrie. The film stars Guthrie in a reenactment of the song. It features a Thanksgiving dinner. I always loved the song, and the movie is really just the song expanded and adapted for film. It's a bittersweet movie for me, bringing back fond memories of my early teen years.

Here's the song, in case you don't remember it:



Here's the movie via Youtube.



The New York Times says, "In Alice's Restaurant, Penn has made a very loving movie, but the loving is not verbalized; it is sung and seen, in sequence after sequence" and closes with this:
Through it all, Arlo maintains amazing grace, which provides both the theme and the continuity for a very original movie whose structural weaknesses couldn't bother me less. With a film as interesting and fine as Alice's Restaurant, structural weaknesses, seen in proper perspective, simply become cinematic complexities to be cherished.

DVD Talk calls it "a casual, laid-back memento of the Woodstock year". Roger Ebert gives it 4 out of 4 stars and calls it "faithful to the spirit of Arlo Guthrie's original recording". Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 67%.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Stranger

The Stranger is a 1946 film directed by Orson Welles and starring Edward G. Robinson, Loretta Young, Orson Welles, Billy House, and Richard Long. Robinson plays a government agent who has tracked a Nazi war criminal to a small American town. This is interesting -a well-done story, with a great cast and enough tension to be effective without being overwrought. It takes place in the Autumn, with dry leaves in the woods and the first snowfall of the year.

via Youtube:


Senses of Cinema calls it "a tightly-plotted and well-acted thriller that bears Welles’ unique stamp". DVD Talk says it's "an efficient and impressive production handsomely directed by Welles for maximum suspense. He's also quite good as the lead villain".

Wikipedia says, "The Stranger was the only film made by Welles to have been a bona fide box office success upon its release." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 96%.


Wednesday, November 09, 2016

The Lonely Silver Rain


The Lonely Silver Rain is a Travis McGee novel, the 21st and final of the series by John D. MacDonald. It was written a year before the author's death at 70 years of age in 1986. He suffered complications from an earlier heart bypass operation.

The Travis McGee character isn't a traditional detective but lives on a houseboat in Florida and works as a freelance "salvage consultant", locating lost property for a fee of 50% of the value of the item. He pays his own expenses.

from the back of the book:
Smart, honest, tough, but very tender, John D. MacDonald's famous fictional hero Travis McGee is a fearless adventurer, an intrepid investigator, a champion of underdogs, a rescuer of ladies in distress, and a contemporary philosopher extraordinaire.

Keeping himself alive is something McGee has always taken for granted -until his search for a wealthy friend's missing yacht places him square in the center of the international cocaine trade. As he follows a scorching white line from Miami's penthouse suites to a tiny village in Mexico's Yukatan Peninsula, Travis finds himself the target of some of the most ruthless villains he's ever met.

Pressed into contemplating for the first time his own mortality and jolted into taking stock of his life, Travis McGee discovers amid all the danger the astonishing surprise behind the cat-shaped pipe cleaners someone is leaving at his door. This is vintage McGee in a novel that confirms John D. MacDonald's reputation as one of the greatest storytellers of all time.

I've also read the first in the series The Deep Blue Good-bye. It came out in 1964 and is dated in how it represents women. He grew in his depiction of women in the intervening years, and I look forward to checking into some of the other books in this series.

Monday, November 07, 2016

Go Vote!


I'm a politics addict, especially during presidential election years. This time, I was a strong member of camp #FeelTheBern throughout the primaries and followed Sanders into the Clinton campaign so that now #ImWithHer. I watched all the debates and watch every live appearance of a candidate I can find. I listen to pundits from both sides, and I fact-check everything I come across. I have friends and relatives from both sides, and most of them are sick of it all and ready to see the end of it. I can't turn away. I'll continue to pay attention to political coverage and discuss it with whoever's willing. Discussion doesn't need to be putting forth arguments to convince but can be honest efforts to understand. I truly believe that. If you've managed to read through that paragraph, maybe you like discussing politics as much as I do.

On the other hand, maybe you're just being polite.

In either case, I offer you Peter Capaldi speaking on coffee as a non-political treat:


Small pleasures, that's the spirit! Now, if you haven't already, GO VOTE! And then join in the festivities at Bleubeard and Elizabeth's T Tuesday gathering.

Balance

I'm talking here about physical balance, although I'll grant you mental balance is also important. Falls are a common precursor to loss of independence in the elderly. One key to avoiding falls is to improve balance. There are a lot of ways that can be achieved. I have a strong preference for videos that demonstrate exercises, but often I can do the exercises without using the video each time.

The Ask Doctor Jo Youtube channel has some simple exercises and explains how to progress through them as your balance improves:



She also has a short video on ankle strengthening exercises and stretches. Ankle strength is important to maintaining balance.

This physical therapist suggests specific exercises:



This 8-minute Tai Chi routine is for improving balance:



This 20-minute video of standing yoga poses cultivates balance:



Yoga Journal offers this 14-minute practice on maintaining balance:



Melissa West has this helpful class with adjustments given for ability level:



I subscribe to the Fitness Blender Youtube channel, even though most of their routines are either inappropriate for me or too difficult. I've found gold there. This is their Beginner Balance workout:



I do some kind of balance activity every day.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

City Girl

City Girl is a 1930 F.W. Murnau film about a young waitress who falls in love with the farmer who is in the big city at the direction of his father to sell his family's wheat crop. This is a touching tale of different lives that intersect. The film takes place during the harvest season.

via youtube:


Senses of Cinema concludes with this:
The strengths of Murnau’s films often lie in the details, the representation and conveyance of emotion, the expressive and minimalist use of intertitles, the discrete complication of structural polarities, and the extraordinary play of light and dark across expressive interior and exterior landscapes. City Girl, both an archaic and visionary work of the late silent cinema, is a reiteration and reinvigoration of these qualities.

Rotten Tomatoes has an 80% critics rating.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Seven Swords

Seven Swords is a 2005 wuxia film, an homage to the Kurosawa Seven Samurai film. I found it slow and even annoying in places, but I loved the choreography and the clothes. The Younger Son thoroughly enjoyed it and thought it worthy of a connection with Kurosawa.

trailer:


It did well in Asia, but it got mostly negative reviews here. A planned sequel appears to be in development hell.

Empire Online closes with this: "What could and should have been great is reduced to the tragically dull. A wasted opportunity of immense proportions." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 25%.

Friday, November 04, 2016

The Trouble with Harry

The Trouble with Harry is a 1955 dark comedy Hitchcock movie. This is absolutely delightful! It has quite the cast, starring Edmund Gwenn, John Forsythe, Shirley MacLaine, Mildred Natwick, Mildred Dunnock, Jerry Mathers, and Royal Dano. The trouble with Harry is that he's dead and what are we to do with him now? The story takes place in the Autumn of the year. Hunting season, you know.

via Youtube:



The New York Times calls it "whimsical". The Guardian calls it "a surrealist masterpiece". Senses of Cinema has an interesting article.

Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 90%.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Tooth and Nail


Tooth and Nail is the 3rd book in the Inspector John Rebus series by Ian Rankin. I like the main character in this series. The writing is fine but nothing spectacular, and the plots are interesting but again not spectacular. I do like the main character. He has an intriguing back-story the effects of which continue to develop through each book. I'll keep picking these up as I come across them.

from the back of the book:
Sent to London to help catch a vicious serial killer, Inspector John Rebus teams up with a beautiful psychologist to piece together a portrait of a depraved psychopath bent on paiting the town red -with blood...

I've read the following books in this series:

#1 Knots and Crosses
#13 Resurrection Men

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Outrage

Outrage is a 1950 film directed by Ida Lupino. It's the 2nd film made to deal with rape. It was Mala Powers' first starring role. Hard to watch even today. So much hasn't changed since then.

via Youtube:


The New Yorker says,
“Outrage” is a special artistic achievement. Lupino approaches the subject of rape with a wide view of the societal tributaries that it involves. She integrates an inward, deeply compassionate depiction of a woman who is the victim of rape with an incisive view of the many societal failures that contribute to the crime, including legal failure to face the prevalence of rape, and the over-all prudishness and sexual censoriousness that make the crime unspeakable in the literal sense and end up shaming the victim. Above all, she reveals a profound understanding of the widespread and unquestioned male aggression that women face in ordinary and ostensibly non-violent and consensual courtship. Her movie is about the experiences of one young woman and, yes, about the experience of all women.
Rotten Tomatoes has an audience score of 83%.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Fictitious Feasts


Fictitious Feasts is an article about the photographer Charles Roux' recreations of meals from books. For example, the photo at the top of the post is his vision of the dining room table from We Have Always Lived in The Castle by Shirley Jackson. I read the Jackson book a couple of years ago, and it has stuck with me. I think it makes a good read for October.

I'm not much a fan of feasts the way most people define the term, so this was my "feast" one night:


There was black coffee in that cup and a horror movie ready for me to watch while I sup. I'm easy to please. Now that October is over I'll be watching far fewer horror movies. I'm ready for a change.

Please join the T Tuesday gathering hosted by Bleubeard and Elizabeth.