Tuesday, May 23, 2017

One More Cup of Coffee

One More Cup of Coffee:

by Bob Dylan, who will turn 76 years old tomorrow.

Lyrics excerpt from the beginning of the song:
Your breath is sweet
Your eyes are like two jewels in the sky
Your back is straight your hair is smooth
On the pillow where you lie
But I don't sense affection
No gratitude or love
Your loyalty is not to me
But to the stars above

One more cup of coffee for the road
One more cup of coffee 'fore I go.
To the valley below.

Monday, May 22, 2017

My Name Is Lucy Barton

My Name Is Lucy Barton is a 2016 novel by Elizabeth Strout. I read Olive Kitteredge, and I will continue to pick up other books by this author as I come across them.

from the back of the book:
Lucy Barton is recovering slowly from what should have been a simple operation. Her mother, to whom she hasn't spoken for many years, comes to see her. Gentle gossip about people from Lucy's childhood in Amgash, Illinois, seems to reconnect them, but just below the surface lie the tension and longing that have informed every aspect of Lucy's life: her escape from her troubled family, her desire to become a writer, her marriage, her love for her two daughters. Knitting this powerful narrative together is the brilliant storytelling voice of Lucy herself: keenly observant, deeply human, and truly unforgettable.
The New York Times concludes a positive review with this:
There is not a scintilla of sentimentality in this exquisite novel. Instead, in its careful words and vibrating silences, “My Name Is Lucy Barton” offers us a rare wealth of emotion, from darkest suffering to —“I was so happy. Oh, I was happy”— simple joy.
Washington Post opens with this:
“There was a time, and it was many years ago now,” Elizabeth Strout’s slim and spectacular new novel begins, “when I had to stay in a hospital for almost nine weeks.” And it feels like she is going to tell us a story, the old-fashioned, uncomplicated kind. But only for a little while. “My Name Is Lucy Barton” is smart and cagey in every way.
The Guardian closes by saying this: My Name Is Lucy Barton confirms Strout as a powerful storyteller immersed in the nuances of human relationships, weaving family tapestries with compassion, wisdom and insight. If she hadn’t already won the Pulitzer for Olive Kitteridge, this new novel would surely be a contender." The Chicago Tribune says, "Strout, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "Olive Kitteridge" and other highly praised novels, has always awed us with her ability to put into words the mysterious and unfathomable ways in which people cherish each other." The book was the subject of one of Diane Rehm's programs. Kirkus Reviews says, "Fiction with the condensed power of poetry: Strout deepens her mastery with each new work, and her psychological acuity has never required improvement."

NPR concludes,
Some novels, regardless of their relationship to actual events, feel true. It's like something gentle has taken you to one side, where things you already half-knew but couldn't articulate are finally explained to you. You feel relief, you feel understood, you feel realer, even. You think, that's it. That's what life is like. My Name is Lucy Barton renders familiar universal tensions — family, sickness, money — quietly and aptly. It's a true novel.
I read it as part of my book challenge for this year. It's listed on the NPR site as one of the best books of 2016.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Lawrence of Arabia

Lawrence of Arabia is a 1962 classic, an award-winning epic masterpiece. It's directed by David Lean and stars Peter O'Toole, Omar Sharif, Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn, Jack Hawkins, José Ferrer, Anthony Quayle, Claude Rains, and Arthur Kennedy. If you haven't yet, you must see this film.


Saturday, May 20, 2017

Masonic 42

This 42 is part of the street address for a local Masonic lodge.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Stalking Moon

Stalking Moon is a 1968 western starring Gregory Peck and Eva Marie Saint. It is a fine enough western but not something I'll watch again.

The NYT has a negative review that concludes with this: "The ads say that no one can escape "The Stalking Moon." You can if you stay home." DVD Talk has a lot of criticisms but says, "On its own limited terms The Stalking Moon gets an "A" for excellence." Roger Ebert says, "... the movie doesn't work as a thriller. It doesn't hold together as a Western, either".

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Dark Tower, book 1

The Gunslinger is the first book in the Stephen King Dark Tower series. I'm re-reading the first two books and completing the series in preparation for the upcoming film.

from the back of the book:
In the first book of this brilliant series, now expanded and revised by the author, Stephen King introduces readers to one of the most enigmatic heroes, Roland of Gilead, the last gunslinger. He is a haunting figure, a loner on a spellbinding journey into good and evil. In his desolate world, which frighteningly mirrors our own, Roland pursues the man in black, encounters an alluring woman named Alice, and begins a friendship with the boy from New York named Jake. Both grippingly realistic and eerily dreamlike, The Gunslinger leaves readers eagerly awaiting the next chapter.
one of my favorite quotes:
Above, the stars were unwinking, also constant. Suns and worlds by the million. Dizzying constellations, cold fire in every primary hue. As he watched, the sky washed from violet to ebony. A meteor etched a brief, spectacular arc below Old Mother and winked out. The fire threw strange shadows as the devil-grass burned its slow way down into new patterns -not ideograms but a straightforward crisscross vaguely frightening in its own no-nonsense surety. He had lain his fuel in a pattern that was not artful but only workable. It spoke of blacks and whites. It spoke of a man who might straighten pictures in strange hotel rooms. The fire burned its steady, slow flame, and phantoms danced in its incandescent core. The gunslinger did not see. The two patterns, art and craft, were welded together as he slept. The wind moaned, a witch with cancer in her belly. Every now and then a perverse downdraft would make the smoke whirl and puff toward him and he breathed some of it in. It built dreams in the same way that a small irritant may build a pearl in an oyster. The gunslinger occasionally moaned with the wind. The stars were as indifferent to this as they were to wars, crucifixions, resurrections. This also would have pleased him.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Whip and the Body

The Whip and the Body is a 1963 Mario Bava gothic horror film starring Christopher Lee. Marriage, betrayal, jealousy, suicide, revenge, madness possession.... A ghost, perhaps. "You can't stop the hand of fate."


Images Journal calls it "the great director’s most romantic, overwrought, macabre, and sexually provocative film." Slant Magazine gives it 3 1/2 out of 4 stars. 1000 Misspent Hours gives it a positive review. Weird Wild Realm thinks it's hokey.

DVD Talk describes it as "a startlingly original scare show with an unexpectedly adult theme". Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 71%.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Instant Coffee Blues

Instant Coffee Blues:

from the first studio album Old No. 1 (1974) by Guy Clark, who died in Nashville, TN, at age 74 a year ago tomorrow. I'm not a big country music fan, and I have to say that listening to him hasn't converted me; but we have to be willing to try, don't we?

lyrics excerpt:
And him he hit the driveway with his feelin's in a case.
And her she hit the stoplight and touched up her face.
So you tell them the difference between caring and not.
And that it's all done with mirrors, lest they forgot.

I said it's all done with mirrors, of which they have none.
To blend the instant coffee blues into the morning sun
Please join this week's edition of the "T Stands for Tuesday" blog gathering hosted by Bleubeard and Elizabeth, where we share a drink and other eclectic offerings.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Upper Body Strength, part 3

Again as in parts 1 and 2 of this little trio of posts, these videos are from the Fitness Blender Youtube channel. They have a large number of videos online, and I've found some of them (well, most of them, to be honest) much too challenging for me. There are plenty, though, that are suitable for my age, small size, and strength and endurance limitations.

The ones in this post don't require any equipment.

6 minutes:

9 minutes:

22 minutes:

Upper Body Strength, part 2

These are from Fitness Blender, a Youtube channel I've found incredibly helpful, and are the same style as their videos in part 1 but don't include the warm-ups or cool-downs:

The first one is specifically targeted for functional upper body strength rather than for toning.

27 minutes:

Below are seven more videos of varying length from that same channel.

9 minutes:

9 minutes:

12 minutes:

16 minutes:

20 minutes:

28 minutes:

35 minutes:

Upper Body Strength

I do some kind of upper body strength exercise three times each week. I have a set of resistance bands, but I've never liked using them. I'm not sure why I don't like them, but give me my little dumbbells any day. If you prefer written programs without the video, I've found plenty of those online, too. VeryWell.com, for example has a 10-exercise upper body routine with photographs and clear instructions, WomensRunning.com has instructions for 6 exercises they recommend, WikiHow has an illustrated article, and there are plenty of others.

Video, though, that's my favorite, because I can have the moving model to follow while still being able to adapt as needed.

There are 2 more posts on this subject: part 2, part 3)

The Fitness Blender Youtube channel has a lot of videos that are much too challenging for me -I get worn out just looking at them- but I've found quite a few that I like to use. These include warm-ups and cool-downs.

The first one is specifically targeted for functional upper body strength rather than for toning.

38 minutes:

Below are three more embedded from that channel:

30 minutes:

50 minutes:

40 minutes:

This link is to a Fitness Blender video at Youtube that focuses on exercises to improve posture and prevent hunched shoulders. I hope I can maintain, and maybe even build, strength. I want to avoid frailty if at all possible.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Les Jeux des Anges

Les Jeux des Anges (The Games of Angels) is a 1964 animated short directed by Walerian Borowczyk. This is definitely different. Imdb describes it:
A bizarre, semi-abstract animated film, based around the theme of angels being processed by a nightmarish factory.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

A Slight Case of Murder

A Slight Case of Murder is a 1938 comedy starring Edward G. Robinson as a gangster who decides to go straight. This is very watchable, filled with delightful 1930s-era cuteness. I loved it. You can't go wrong with Robinson, after all.


The New York Times, in a review from the film's release, calls it "immoderately" amusing, praising the writing, the direction, and "the flavorsome performances of an unusually apt and well-chosen cast."

Friday, May 12, 2017

The Bronze Horseman

The Bronze Horseman is an 1833 story in verse by Alexander Pushkin. Wikipedia says it is "about the equestrian statue of Peter the Great in Saint Petersburg and the great flood of 1824" and says,
Widely considered to be Pushkin's most successful narrative poem, "The Bronze Horseman" has had a lasting impact on Russian literature. It is considered one of the most influential works in Russian Literature, and is one of the reasons Pushkin is often called the “founder of modern Russian literature.” The statue became known as the Bronze Horseman due to the great influence of the poem.

Pushkin died on February 10, 1837, of peritonitis following a shot in the stomach during a duel.

The poem can be read online here. It begins:

A wave-swept shore, remote, forlorn:
Here stood he, rapt in thought and drawn
To distant prospects. Broad and chartless
The river ran, along it borne
A lonely skiff, rough-hewn and artless.
Darker against the marshy green
Of moss-grown banks appeared some mean
Log huts: the poor Finns’ habitation;
And forests which had never seen
The mist-veiled sun’s illumination
Were live with whispers.

And he thought:
‘From here the Swede is ill-protected:
A city on this site, to thwart
His purposes, shall be erected.
For here we may, by Nature blessed,
Cut through a window to the West
And guard our seaboard with conviction.
At home in waters which had been
Unknown, all flags shall here be seen,
And we shall feast without restriction.’

A hundred years have passed. We see,
Where swamp and forest stood but lately:
The city, northern prodigy,
Has risen, sumptuous and stately;
Where once a humble Finnish lad –
Poor foster-child in Nature’s keeping –
Alone upon the low banks had
Oft cast his time-worn nets when reaping
The waters’ hidden harvest, – now
Great towers and palaces endow
The bustling banks with grace and splendour;
From every corner of the earth
Come vessels, jostling to berth
At these rich wharves. Now, to defend her,
Our city’s banks are granite-cased;
Fair bridges interlace her waters;
And verdant parks bedeck those quarters
With which the islands have been graced.
So our young capital’s aurora
Puts ancient Moscow in the shade,
Just as a new tsaritsa’s aura
Must make the empress-mother fade.

O how I love you, Peter’s daughter!
Your aspect, graceful yet austere;
Nevá’s augustly flowing water
And granite banks: these I hold dear;
Your railings, finely ornamented;
Your pensive nights of moonless light
And lambent dusk, when I, contented,
Sit in my room and read and write
Without a lamp, while in the nearly
Deserted streets huge buildings clearly
Loom up, asleep; and solar fire
Plays on the Admiralty spire;
And Dusk directly (as if plotting
To keep the golden skies alight)
Hands on the torch to Dawn, allotting
A brief half-hour to cheated Night.
I love your winter, harsh and bracing:
The still air resonant with frost;
Girls’ rosy cheeks; and sledges racing
By broad Nevá, now freely crossed;
And ballrooms: noisy, scintillating;
At junketings of single men
The glasses charged and coruscating,
And rum punch, flaming blue again.
I love the military vigour
Paraded on the Field of Mars:
Stout-hearted foot troops and hussars
In orderly and pleasing figure;
Torn battle colours held on high;
Smart ranks in measured rhythm swaying;
Glint of brass helmets, all displaying
Proud bullet scars from wars gone by.
And, martial capital, what pleasure
To hear your fortress cannon roar
When the Tsaritsa adds more treasure –
A son – to the Imperial store;
Or Russia celebrates once more
Defeat of our opponents’ legions;
Or when Nevá’s blue ice fragments,
And she, saluting Spring, sweeps hence
The shattered ice to ocean regions!

O fair Petropolis, stand fast,
Unshakeable as this great nation:
So that the elements, at last
Subdued, may seek conciliation!
And may the Finnish waves now cast
Aside hate born of long subjection,
And not with futile insurrection
Disturb great Peter’s ageless sleep!
There was a dreadful time … still deep
Its imprint on our generation …
My friends, that time, remembered well,
Shall be the theme of my narration.
It is a sombre tale I tell.

This counts towards my Russia book challenge.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Jade Lady Burning

Jade Lady Burning (1992) is the first book in the Sueño and Bascom series by Martin Limon. I liked the setting, but it wasn't filled out very well. The characters were also lacking in depth, and although I think the main character has potential I'm stopping with this first book unless I'm somehow convinced by circumstance to read another one.

from the back of the book:
Meet Sergeants George Sueno and Ernie Bascom in
their first investigation, set in 1970s South Korea.
Almost twenty years after the end of the Korean War, the US Military is still present throughout South Korea, and tensions run high. Koreans look for any opportunity to hate the soldiers who drink at their bars and carouse with their women. When Pak Ok-suk, a young Korean woman, is found brutally murdered in a torched apartment in the Itaewon red-light district of Seoul, it looks like it might be the work of her American soldier boyfriend. Sergeants George Sueño and Ernie Bascom, Military Police for the US 8th Army, are assigned to the case, but they have nothing to go on other than a tenuous connection to an infamous prostitute. As repressed resentments erupt around them, the pair sets out on an increasingly dangerous quest to find evidence that will exonerate their countryman.
Kirkus Reviews says, "Authentic low-life Korean backgrounds don't entirely compensate for this first novel's predictable plot and flat characters". Publishers Weekly concludes by calling it "A mixed-bag first effort, with an evocative setting and a sluggish pace."

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Housemaid (1960)

The Housemaid is a 1960 drama edging into horror about the ruin of a family after a predatory woman enters the household to help out when the wife becomes pregnant with their 3rd child.

via youtube:

Criterion calls it a "venomous melodrama" and "an engrossing tale of class warfare and familial disintegration that has been hugely influential on the new generation of South Korean filmmakers". Politico says it's "a claustrophobic, suspenseful masterpiece". Slant Magazine compares it to the 2010 remake.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

The Cafeteria

The Cafeteria (1930):

by Isaac Soyer (1907-1981), part of the permanent collection at the Memphis Brooks Museum. Soyer was a registered WPA artist. He immigrated to the U.S.A. with his parents, who were born in Russia.

Please join the other participants in the weekly "T" party hosted by Bleubeard and Elizabeth. Share a drink of your choice with us.

Monday, May 08, 2017

Hunters in the Dark

Hunters in the Dark is the 2015 novel by Lawrence Osborne. This is a fascinating book, beautifully written. I'll look for more by this author.

from the back of the book:
Eager to sidestep his quiet life as a small-town teacher from England and test the thresholds of a daring new future, Robert Grieve decides to go missing.

On his first night in Cambodia, a windfall precipitates a chin of events -involving a bag of "jinxed" money, a suave American, a trunk full of heroin, a hustler taxi driver, and a rich doctor's daughter- that changes Robert's life forever.

In a sophisticated game of cat and mouse redolent of Patricia Highsmith and Alfred Hitchcock -in which identities are blurred, greed trumps kindness, and karma is ruthless- Hunters in the Dark brilliantly twists dark superstitions of the Cambodian jungle with the machinations of fate, confirming Lawrence Osborne as one of the finest writers of today.
favorite quote:
You waited for life to begin and yet for some reason it did not begin. It hesitated while you wondered about the risks. You stodd in the wings of your own play, afraid to walk onto the boards and begin.
The Guardian calls it "edgy, gripping and beautifully written". NPR calls it "an elegant, dark, well-put together novel." The Independent concludes, "Hunters in the Dark is a tip-top thriller. Osborne knows how to keep the pages turning; he is a name to watch." Kirkus Reviews closes a positive review by saying, "Complex in plot yet simple and intense in style, Osborne’s narrative takes us into an Asian heart of darkness."

The New York Times closes with this:
“Hunters in the Dark” is a novel of immersion, not suspense, shaped like a quiet dream. The reader can do nothing but float as if in a muddy river, going where it takes him, which will be back to a version of the beginning. As such, it’s an unqualified success, and I hope it enjoys a wide readership
I read it for my book challenge this year, as part of the NPR list of best books of 2016.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Now, Voyager

Now, Voyager is a 1942 starring Bette Davis, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, and Gladys Cooper. I watched this because it's in the book 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, but I don't tend to like these melodramas. I actually did enjoy it, though. Bette Davis and Claude Rains are always irresistible.


At the time of its release the NYT concludes, "Although "Now, Voyager" starts out bravely, it ends exactly where it started—and after two lachrymose hours." Film Site says it's "the quintessential, soap-opera or "woman's picture" ('weepie') and one of Bette Davis' best-acted and remembered films in the 40s".

Slant Magazine opens by saying,
Now, Voyager remains a highly narcotic, swoon-inducing romance in the Bette Davis canon. It’s an unabashed soap opera about how true love gets hindered by social conventions, and manages to squeeze in a moralistic tale of female self-empowerment to boot. Toss in a third act bit of passive aggressive wish fulfillment where our high society heroine projects the love of a man she cannot have onto his unsuspecting, needy daughter, and there’s enough to make one’s head spin. But that cloudy feeling isn’t a drawback—it’s more like floating with a movie whose indulgences are reminiscent of foolishly falling in love. You ignore the flaws.
Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 91%.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Happy World Naked Gardening Day!

Happy World Naked Gardening Day, the first Saturday in May.

Not that I'll be participating... I spend most of my time gardening on the ground, and I'm more comfortable in clothes. But y'all go for it!

Friday, May 05, 2017


Ninotchka is a 1939 film directed by Ernst Lubitsch, with Greta Garbo ("Garbo laughs!), Melvyn Douglas, Ina Claire, Sig Ruman, and Felix Bressart,

On its release, the NYT said of it,
Stalin won't like it. Molotoff may even recall his envoy from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. We still will say Garbo's "Ninotchka" is one of the sprightliest comedies of the year, a gay and impertinent and malicious show which never pulls its punch lines (no matter how far below the belt they may land) and finds the screen's austere first lady of drama playing a dead-pan comedy role with the assurance of a Buster Keaton.
Deep Focus Review has an in-depth examination and includes the political ramifications:
Politically, Ninotchka treads on delicate ground in its favor of Western culture and Capitalism over Communism, and the film was inevitably banned from several Soviet countries upon its release. The picture takes a bold step forward by representing Communism with some degree of realism for a Hollywood production, and by further representing a woman of some power—though Ninotchka reports to a male, Bela Lugosi’s Commissar Razinin—as a significant member of the party. Wilder later observed that, while writing, he knew he could not avoid the truth when representing Communist Russia. The film’s depiction of Soviet life would not only break gender role taboos of the period, but it would present a serious-minded satire of the facts. In 1939, Russia was a needed ally, and so referencing Stalin’s Great Purge and Ninotchka’s five-year plans with a sense of humor represented an undeniable risk and required political awareness from the film’s audience. When Ninotchka first arrives in Paris, her three comrades ask “How are things in Russia?” She replies coldly, “Very good. The last mass trials were a great success. There are going to be fewer but better Russians.” As Capitalism prevails, the message underneath the love story becomes clear, so much so that in 1948 the U.S. State Department sent 35 prints of Ninotchka to Italy during the “Red-threatened” elections in hopes of impacting voters.
Film Site opens with this:
Ninotchka (1939) was the long-awaited, classic romantic comedy, with a clever and witty script and the magnificent presence of actress Greta Garbo in her first official American comedy (in her next-to-last film). The charming film about clashing ideologies (Soviet communism vs. capitalism) begins with Garbo portrayed at first as a humorless, cold, curt, deadpan, and seriously-austere Russian envoy (in a parody of her own stiff onscreen image), who soon melts and is transformed and softened by Parisian love (and a persuasive playboy Count) into a frivolous, romantic figure and converted Communist.
Time Out says, "Ninotchka is delicate flirtation and political satire made into a perfect whole, and a reminder of skills that studio writers have largely lost." This film is listed in the book 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 97%.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Blood and Roses

Blood and Roses is a 1960 French film, which may be about a vampire and may be about a woman who undergoes a shock and resulting psychological disturbance. The movie lets you decide. Mel Ferrer stars. I enjoyed watching this.

The movie is loosely based on the 1872 Joseph Sheridan le Fanu book Carmilla, which can be read online at many different sites. You can have it read to you here courtesy of Librivox.

full film via Youtube:

The New York Times calls it an "exquisitely mounted reprise of the old human vampire theme".

Moria gives it 2 1/2 out of 5 stars. DVD Talk calls it "One of the most coveted but elusive Euro-horror delights from the 'first wave' of the late 1950s and early '60s"

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

A Cup of Tea

A Cup of Tea is a 1922 short story by New Zealander Katherine Mansfield, who died of tuberculosis in 1923 when she was 34 years old.

You can read the story online here. It begins with this:
Rosemary Fell was not exactly beautiful. No, you couldn't have called her beautiful. Pretty? Well, if you took her to pieces ... but why be so cruel as to take anyone to pieces? She was young, brilliant, extremely modern, exquisitely well dressed, amazingly well read in the newest of the new books, and her parties were the most delicious mixture of the really important people and... artists -quaint creatures, discoveries of hers, some of them too terrifying for words, but others quite presentable and amusing.
You can listen to it thanks to LibriVox:

You can see photographs of her home and garden online here.

There's a weekly blogger gathering hosted by Bleubeard and Elizabeth where you can join in sharing a drink. You'll be welcomed.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Big River Crossing

We parked at Tom Lee Park (pictured above facing north) and walked south to the Harahan Bridge where the Big River Crossing is. Here's the view as we approached:

It is closed overnight but open til 10:00 PM and well-lit. We were there mid-day. You get a great view of downtown Memphis.

The railings are high enough to make the most skittish person feel secure. Here I am on my tiptoes:

You can see the pyramid and the "M" bridge in the distance. The view really is stunning!

The Memphis side is up on a bluff, but the bridge on the Arkansas side is over lowlands for a while before you get to the picnic area on that end of the bridge.

This video is a short history of the Harahan bridge that includes aerial views of the new pedestrian crossing :

This is night video of a round-trip bike crossing:

This is such a wonderful addition to our downtown!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Only Angels Have Wings

Only Angels Have Wings is a 1939 film directed by Howard Hawks and starring Cary Grant, Jean Arthur, Rita Hayworth, and Thomas Mitchell.

The Guardian says, "There’s drama, intrigue, laughter and thrills in this rereleased 1939 movie directed by Howard Hawks." The New York Times in a review at the film's release called it "a fairly good melodrama".

Slant Magazine says, "The ending is one of Hawks's greatest and most poignant". The New Yorker calls it a "stirring tale".

FilmSite says,
Only Angels Have Wings (1939) is a quintessential adventure-aviation film with drama, dark fatalism, suspense and romance that is stocked with true-to-life sequences, fast-paced action and top stars in skillfully-executed roles. The film's themes include male camaraderie and loyalty, professionalism, courage and duty in the face of life-and-death perils and dangers, and rugged, stoic bravery

Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 100%. This film is listed in the book 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Skeleton Man

Skeleton Man is the 17th book in the Leaphorn/Chee mystery series by Tony Hillerman. These stories never get old. I always enjoy the setting, the characters, and the plots. I can't find anything to fault in this series.

from the back of the book:
In 1956, an airplane crash left the remains of
172 passengers scattered among the majestic cliffs of
the Grand Canyon -including an arm attached to a
briefcase containing a fortune in gems. Half a century later,
one of the missing diamonds has reappeared ...
and the wolves are on the scent.

Former Navajo Tribal Police Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn is coming out of retirement to help exonerate a slow, simple kid accused of robbing a trade post. Billy Tuve claims he received the diamond he tried to pawn from a mysterious old man in the canyon, and his story has attracted the dangerous attention of strangers to the Navajo lands -one more interested in a severed limb than the fortune it was attached to; another willing to murder to keep lost secrets hidden. But nature herself may prove the deadliest adversary, as Leaphorn and Sergeant Jim Chee follow a puzzle -and a killer- down into the dark realm of Skeleton Man.
The NYT says, "No wonder Hillerman's stories never grow old. Like myths, they keep evolving with the telling." Kirkus Reviews concludes with this: "No mystery this time, but considerable suspense in the race to bottom of one of the most spectacular and treacherous landscapes Hillerman’s ever explored." Publishers Weekly says, "Hillerman continues to shine as the best of the West."

I've read these from this series:
1. The Blessing Way (1970)
2. Dance Hall of the Dead (1973)

4. People of Darkness (1980)
5. The Dark Wind (1982)
6. The Ghostway (1984)

7. Skinwalkers (1986)
8. Thief of Time (1988)
9. Talking God (1989)
10. Coyote Waits (1990)
11. Sacred Clowns (1993)
12. The Fallen Man (1996)
13. The First Eagle (1998)
14. Hunting Badger
15. The Wailing Wind
16. The Sinister Pig (2003)

Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Sultana Disaster

The explosion of the ship Sultana is the worst maritime disaster in U.S. history. On April 27, 1865, the overloaded ship (built for 376 passengers, but carrying 2,427) exploded and sank just north of Memphis. According to Wikipedia, the official count by the United States Customs Service of those who died is 1,800. Final estimates of survivors are about 550. Many of the dead were interred at the Memphis National Cemetery. Three victims of the wreck of the Sultana are interred at Elmwood Cemetery in Memphis.

There's a museum in Arkansas not far from here, and I'd planned to go before posting this. I haven't gone yet, but it's still on my list of close places I want to go.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

It Follows

It Follows is a 2014 horror movie about it following. Yes, it does, it follows, after sex, until you pass it on, and you'd think that'd be scary or creepy or something. I found it tame. My opinion isn't shared by most. It gets great reviews.


The New York Times calls it a "cool, controlled horror film," and says, "“It Follows,” might be described as the very incarnation of paranoia." Wired says it's "worthy of every good review it’s gotten." Empire Online gives it 4 out of 5 stars and concludes, "A first-rate horror movie, It Follows adds a new monster to the pantheon expect pranksters to imitate the Follower for cheap shocks soon and has a refreshing, unpretentious sense that a meaningful subtext doesn'’t undercut spookiness."

Rolling Stone gives it 3 out of 4 stars and says it "creeps you out big-time in that cool way that freezes the blood." Slant Magazine gives it 1 1/2 out of 4 stars. Sight and Sound calls it one of the best films of the year.

Entertainment Weekly gives it an A- and calls it "a dizzyingly tense and creepy workout." Roger Ebert's site gives it 3 1/2 out of 4 stars and calls it "unsettling, and deservedly celebrated". Rotten Tomatoes has a 97% critics score, but the audience score is 65%..

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

How to Make Coffee, Amateur Style

Nikki starts with beans, then mentions grinders on her way to showing how to make different coffees:

I don't like milk in coffee -to be honest, I don't much like milk at all- but I do like espresso. I don't have an espresso maker. I'm always tempted, but I haven't yet made the plunge.

Please join the weekly T party over at Bleubeard and Elizabeth's blog where you'll find a drink and a warm welcome waiting for you.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Oven-Baked Salmon

This is so easy, and yet I have trouble remembering and keeping up with a recipe. I'm putting it where where I can find it:

Salmon fillets, as desired

Salt, pepper, lemon peel
Pre-heat oven to 425F.

Place fillets on a baking pan. You can use foil or oil the surface of the pan if you like.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Sprinkle lemon peel on top.

Bake 20 minutes in pre-heated oven.

You can garnish these, of course, with sliced almonds or parsley, but I tend to plate them just as they are.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Angels with Dirty Faces

Angels with Dirty Faces is a 1938 gangster movie directed by Michael Curtiz and starring James Cagney, Pat O'Brien, Humphrey Bogart, Ann Sheridan, George Bancroft, William Tracy (best known as delivery boy Pepi Katona in The Shop Around the Corner), and The Dead End Kids.

FilmSite opens with this: "Angels With Dirty Faces (1938) is a classic example of a Warner Bros. gangster/crime melodrama of the 1930s - a slick, action-packed, hard-hitting studio film layered with a touch of social conscience." Slant Magazine has a positive review. Empire Online says, "Not pulling the melodrama punches in anyway but still a real Cagney gangster classic."

DVD Journal concludes,
The whole "crime doesn't pay" trope has never felt more quaint than it does today, but the way Angels With Dirty Faces balances hard-bitten gangster drama with warmly stage-managed religiosity gives us an entertaining period piece, one which shows that after more than sixty years you still can't go wrong with a Jimmy Cagney movie.
Rotten Tomatoes has a critics rating of 100%. This film is included in the book 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Mothering Sunday

Mothering Sunday is a 2016 novel by Graham Swift. I loved this book. The writing is wonderful, and the main character is someone you care about. I couldn't put it down, drawn further and further into her life.

from the book jacket:
A luminous, intensely moving tale that begins with a secret lovers' assignation in the spring of 1924, then unfolds to reveal the whole of a remarkable life.

Twenty-two-year-old Jane Fairchild has worked as a maid at an English country house since she was sixteen. For almost all of those years she has been the clandestine lover to Paul Sheringham, young heir of a neighboring house. The two now meet on an unseasonably warm March day -Mothering Sunday- a day that will change Jane's life forever.

As the narrative moves back and forth from 1924 to the end of the century, what we know and understand about Jane -about the way she loves, thinks, feels, sees, remembers- expands with every vividly captured moment. Her story is one of profound self-discovery, and through her, Graham Swift has created an emotionally soaring, deeply affecting work of fiction.
The Guardian calls it "a perfect small tragedy". The New York Times has a positive review and says, "it feels less self-consciously literary than Mr. Swift’s earlier novels, and while it has a haunting, ceremonious pace, it also possesses a new emotional intensity." The Washington Post calls it "an elegant reflection on the impulse to tell stories".

Kirkus Reviews closes by calling it "a novel where nothing is as simple or obvious as it seems at first." The Independent describes it as "a Conradian homage to a well-spring of inspiration".

This book is on the NPR Best Books list.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Lonnie Mack's Memphis

In memory of Lonnie Mack, who died one year ago today at the age of 74.


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Pulse (2006)

Pulse is a 2006 horror film, a remake of the 2001 Japanese film Kairo. In this one technology takes away your will to live. It's effective enough though there's not really much to it, but I'd recommend the original over this one.

via Youtube:

Slant Magazine gives it 2 1/2 out of 4 stars and says,
Pulse crafts an eerie vision of dawning techno-hell, one in which the communicative devices designed to bring people together have, instead, fostered nothing but loneliness and social alienation. It's a theme that lurks within many of J-horror's finest, and remains prevalent throughout Sorezno's supernatural thriller thanks to repeated scenes in which (consistently one-dimensional) characters either fail to successfully converse via phones or IM'ing, or falter in their endeavors to have meaningful face-to-face dialogues with those they care most about.
The New York Times pans it. DVD Talk calls it "uneven" and says, "you will see nothing but superficiality in the regressive retelling". Classic Horror likes it. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 10%.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Walking for Miles and Miles and Miles, Inside

Last month I posted 1-Mile walking videos I use. This post covers walking videos that take up to an hour. The first several of these are from Leslie Sansone. I have a number of her videos and have found her approach remarkably useful over the years.

2-Mile Fat Burning:

3-Mile Fat Burning:

3-Mile Walk Strong:


She has videos with longer walks, and I'd recommend those DVDs.

Leslie Sansone is not the only one who does the walk-at-home concept at longer distances and times. Here's a 5-mile run and walk:

And this is a 1-hour healthy heart walk:

Monday, April 17, 2017

Hot Cross Buns

Baking Hot Cross Buns is a Good Friday tradition. This is the current incarnation of my recipe, though I often leave out the fruit due to picky eaters who literally pick it out. There are countless recipes, many of which call for an egg wash brushed over the tops of the rolls before baking and also icing in a cross shape after the rolls have cooled. I don't do either of these.

Hot Cross Buns
10 cups all purpose flour
4 pkg active dry yeast
3/4 cup sugar + 2 Tbs
2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp dried ground orange peel
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 1/2 cups milk
1 cup butter
4 eggs beaten
optional: 1 cup raisins or other chopped dried fruit
Combine 8 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, salt, spices, and dried fruit in large mixing bowl.

In cooking pot, heat milk, butter, and 2 Tbsp sugar to 110F. Add yeast. Let sit until foaming.

Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients. Add eggs. Mix well, adding flour as necessary, until smooth and elastic.

Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead, adding more flour as needed.

Place in greased bowl, turn once to grease top, cover, let rise in warm place until doubled (about 1 hour). Punch dough down, let rise again. Shape into balls, 1 1/2 to 2-inches or larger as desired. Place 2 inches apart on greased baking sheet. Cut a cross on top of each roll using a sharp knife. Cover and let rise until doubled in size (about 30 minutes). If the crosses need it, cut them again along the lines you used earlier.

Bake at 375F for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Supreme 42

I believe that this seat was stolen from Obama by Republican obstructionism. If the Republicans were willing to postpone hearings until after a new president took office (almost a year) and were even saying they would leave the seat open for her entire presidency if Clinton were to be elected because she was -after all- under investigation by the FBI.... Well, the current president is under investigation by the FBI. The Republicans obviously don't think there's any rush to fill that seat, so I ask this: "What's the rush now?" Let's let the investigation conclude before we allow this president to make a lifetime judicial appointment.


during the recent hearings, this exchange took place between Cruz and Gorsuch:

Cruz: What is the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything?

Gorsuch: 42.

I can't help but appreciate the interchange even though I despise Cruz and resent Gorsuch.

Saturday, April 15, 2017


Linesman is the first book in a trilogy by S. K. Dunstall. I enjoyed this book. The concept of the "lines" was different and fascinating, and the plot moved along nicely. What I didn't care for was the writing style -which struck me as a bit choppy- and the sketchy way I thought the politics was handled. I used to stubbornly forge ahead with series novels, giving the rest of them a chance, but those days are gone for me. I'm glad I read this one for the sake of the linesman concept, but I won't seek out the rest.

from the back of the book:
The lines. No ship can traverse the void without them. Only linesmen can work with them. But only Ean Lambert hears their song. And everyone thinks he's crazy...

Most slum kids never go far, certainly not becoming a level-ten linesman like Ean. Even though he's part of a small -and unethical- cartel and the other linesmen disdain his self-taught methods, he's certified and working.

Then a mysterious alien ship is discovered at the edges of the galaxy. Each of the major galactic powers is desperate to be the first to uncover the ship's secrets, but all they've learned is that it has the familiar lines of energy -and a defense system that, once triggered, annihilates everything in a two-hundred-kilometer radius.

The vessel threatens any linesman who dares to approach it, except Ean. His unique talents may be the key to understanding this alarming new force -and reconfiguring the relationship between humans and the ships that serve them, forever.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Out of the Inkwell

Out of the Inkwell is a Fleischer silent short animated film series that ran from 1918-1929. It was reactivated in the 1950s. Here's one (The Cartoon Factory) from 1924:

and one (Koko's Earth Control) from 1928:

Thursday, April 13, 2017

A Question of Belief

A Question of Belief (2010) is the 19th book in the Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery series by Donna Leon. I'm reading these books as I come across them in no particular order.

from the dust jacket:
Donna Leon's prize-winning series starring the Venetian Commissario Guido Brunetti has been lauded by critics and cherished by fans around the world. Her shrewd, principled detective, who knows that justice and apprehension of a criminal aren't always the same thing, has led countless readers into a hidden Venice, a world unseen by the throngs of tourists who visit La Serenissima each year.

In Leon's latest novel, A Question of Belief, Venice is baking under a glaring sun, and Brunetti would like to escape the tourists. The hardworking Commissario's greatest wish is to go to the mountains with his family, where he can sleep under a down comforter and catch up on his reading of history. But before he can go on vacation, a folder containing court records lands on his desk, brought by an old friend. It appears that certain cases at the local court -hardly known as a model of efficiency- are being delayed to the benefit of one of the parties. This could be a creative new trick for corrupting the system, but if it is, what can Brunetti do about it?

Brunetti is also doing a favor for his colleague Inspector Lorenzo Vianello. The inspector's aunt has taken a strong interest in astrology and has been regularly withdrawing large amounts of cash from the bank. But she won't listen to her family, and Vianello doesn't know what to do.

And just when it looks like Brunetti will be able to get away for his well-earned rest, a shocking, violent crime forces him to shake off the heat and get down to work. A stellar addition to Leon's celebrated series, A Question of Belief is lush and atmospheric, packed with excellent characters, and builds to an explosive, unforgettable ending.
The book begins with this:
When Ispettore Vianello came into his office, Brunetti had all but exhausted the powers of will keeping him at his desk. He had read a report about gun trafficking in the Vaneto, a report that had made no mention of Venice; he had read another one suggesting the transfer of two new recruits to the Squadra Mobile before realizing his name was not on the list of people who should read it; and now he had read half of a ministerial announcement about changes in the regulations concerning early retirement. That is, he had read half, if that verb could be applied to the level of attention Brunetti had devoted to the reading of the entire document. The paper lay on his desk as he stared out his window, hoping someone would come in and pour a bucket of cold water on his head or that it would rain or that he would experience the Rapture and thus escape the trapped heat of his office and the general misery of August in Venice.
Euro Crime opens with this: "This latest in Donna Leon's much-admired series about Venetian Comissario Brunetti is well up to scratch." Italian-Mysteries.com has links to articles and interviews. The Independent concludes, "On the surface, this is another entry in a reliable series. But it also obliquely addresses the issues of legal gerrymandering, faith and corruption that bedevil Leon's adopted country."

This counts towards my TBR book challenge.

I've also read the following from this series:
#1 Death at La Fenice (1992)
#2 Death in a Strange Country (1993)
#3 Dressed for Death (1994)
#4 Death and Judgment (1995)
#18 About Face (2009)

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Last Wave

The Last Wave is a 1977 film directed by Peter Weir (who directed the wonderful Picnic at Hanging Rock). It stars Richard Chamberlain. This film is hard to categorize. It's a mystery but also an eerie fantasy of sorts. I loved this one. It has a mystical air, a mixing of dream and reality, that appeals to me. Wikipedia describes it this way: "It is about a white solicitor in Sydney whose seemingly normal life is disrupted after he takes on a murder case and discovers that he shares a strange, mystical connection with the small group of local Australian Aborigines accused of the crime."

via Youtube:

Senses of Cinema says,
The Last Wave is significant as a major film of the 1970s Australian film renaissance, a critically well-received film from a leading director of that period, and also, a marker film in the career of David Gulpilil. At 24, he had been acting in Australian film and television for six years since his debut in Nicholas Roeg’s Walkabout (1971 UK/Australia). The Last Wave was a key film in a journey that was to become both his life’s work, and his most important contribution to Australian cinema: to engage in a dialogue with Australian auteurs, audiences and Indigenous people to communicate Aboriginal identity, culture, values and history.
The New York Times has a mixed review, calling it "a movingly moody shock-film, composed entirely of the kind of variations on mundane behavior and events that are most scary and disorienting because they so closely parallel the normal." The Guardian says it "has an unsettling surreal energy that seems to exist entirely in that moment, where something as ordinary as the weather becomes an instrument of terror and suspense." Tabula Rasa writes, "There is dreamlike quality to this film, and as said, the viewer has to do some work. It may not be to everyone's taste. But for me this is one of the best demonstrations that Australia can be haunted and haunting."

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Black Coffee in Bed

Black Coffee in Bed:

released 35 years ago this past Sunday by Squeeze.

The song begins with this:
There's a stain on my notebook
Where your coffee cup was

Monday, April 10, 2017

First Love

First Love (1860) is a short novel by Ivan Turgenev. The story tells of a 16 year old boy whose love for a 21 year old woman finally ends when he discovers that she is the mistress of his father. It is available online in English translation here and here. It's a tragic story of loss and disappointment.

It begins with this:
The party had long ago broken up. The clock struck half-past twelve. There was left in the room only the master of the house and Sergei Nikolaevitch and Vladimir Petrovitch.

The master of the house rang and ordered the remains of the supper to be cleared away. ‘And so it’s settled,’ he observed, sitting back farther in his easy-chair and lighting a cigar; ‘each of us is to tell the story of his first love. It’s your turn, Sergei Nikolaevitch.’

Sergei Nikolaevitch, a round little man with a plump, light-complexioned face, gazed first at the master of the house, then raised his eyes to the ceiling. ‘I had no first love,’ he said at last; ‘I began with the second.’

‘How was that?’

‘It’s very simple. I was eighteen when I had my first flirtation with a charming young lady, but I courted her just as though it were nothing new to me; just as I courted others later on. To speak accurately, the first and last time I was in love was with my nurse when I was six years old; but that’s in the remote past. The details of our relations have slipped out of my memory, and even if I remembered them, whom could they interest?’

‘Then how’s it to be?’ began the master of the house. ‘There was nothing much of interest about my first love either; I never fell in love with any one till I met Anna Nikolaevna, now my wife — and everything went as smoothly as possible with us; our parents arranged the match, we were very soon in love with each other, and got married without loss of time. My story can be told in a couple of words. I must confess, gentlemen, in bringing up the subject of first love, I reckoned upon you, I won’t say old, but no longer young, bachelors. Can’t you enliven us with something, Vladimir Petrovitch?’

‘My first love, certainly, was not quite an ordinary one,’ responded, with some reluctance, Vladimir Petrovitch, a man of forty, with black hair turning grey.

‘Ah!’ said the master of the house and Sergei Nikolaevitch with one voice: ‘So much the better. . . . Tell us about it.’

‘If you wish it . . . or no; I won’t tell the story; I’m no hand at telling a story; I make it dry and brief, or spun out and affected. If you’ll allow me, I’ll write out all I remember and read it you.’

His friends at first would not agree, but Vladimir Petrovitch insisted on his own way. A fortnight later they were together again, and Vladimir Petrovitch kept his word.

His manuscript contained the following story:—
This counts toward my Russia book challenge.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

The Life of Emile Zola

The Life of Emile Zola is a 1937 film directed by William Dieterle and starring Paul Muni in the title role. It's the second biographical film to win the Oscar for Best Picture.

From the New York Times:
Paul Muni's portrayal of Zola is, without doubt, the best thing he has done. Fiery, bitter, compassionate as the young novelist; settled, complacent, content to rest from the wars in his later years; then forced into the struggle again, although he resisted it, when the Dreyfus cause whispered to his conscience—Mr. Muni has given us a human and well-rounded portrait.
Empire Online concludes, "Perhaps not a completely reliable historical document this is however a moving evocation of an era and a heroic deed." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 75%. It's listed in the book 1.001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

Slow Art Day

There's no formal, sponsored site for Slow Art Day here in Memphis this year. That's a shame, but it won't stop me from participating on my own. The steps are these:
  1. Find a local event
    Show up on Saturday, April 8, 2017 at your venue, pay the admission fee (if there is one) and then look slowly –five to ten minutes– at each piece of pre-assigned art.
  2. Attend and look at 5 pieces of art slowly
  3. Have lunch to discuss your experience

Ordinarily I'd go over to the Dixon, which is close to me, but they'll be packed with people attending their plant sale. Maybe I'll go to the Brooks. You can see their collection online. I tend to spend most of my time in front of favorite works, but today I'll choose ones I'm less familiar with. Here I'll post ones on view at the Brooks that I've spent a long time with through the years. It's not like seeing them in person, but I hope you enjoy them.


At the Foot of the Cliff:

The Family:

Light of the Incarnation:



Find some art near you and spend some time looking deeply into it. It's revelatory.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Me and My Gal

Me and My Gal is a 1932 Raoul Walsh comedy film starring Spencer Tracy and Joan Bennett. Please don't confuse this film with "For Me and My Gal," a 1942 Busby Berkeley movie.

Here's a scene from the film:

The New York Times calls it "a racy combination of comedy and melodrama which lives up to what one might expect from the title." DVD Talk opens by saying, "Director Raoul Walsh and an expert cast give us eighty minutes of fun and excitement down on the New York docks, where the men are 57 varieties of goofy and the dames look a guy straight in the eye." It's included in the book 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Wee Free Men

The Wee Free Men is one of the Discworld books by Terry Pratchett, but is readale as a stand-alone novel. It's appropriate for children but also enjoyable for adults, not a common feature in books in my experience.

from the back of the book:
There's trouble on the Aching farm: monsters in the river, headless horsemen in the lane -and Tiffany Aching's little brother has been stolen by the Queen of Fairies. Getting him back will require all of Tiffany's strength and determination (as well as a sturdy skillet) and the help of the rowdy clan of fightin', stealin', tiny blue-skinned pictsies known as the Wee Free Men!
favorite quote:
Them as can do has to do for them as can't. And someone has to speak up for them as has no voices.

This picture -The Fairy Feller's Master-Stroke- figures in the plot:

The New York Times says it "is good solid storytelling done in a style that reads like Celtic mythology fused with the girl power of ''Buffy the Vampire Slayer'' with dialogue by Robert Burns." Kirkus Reviews says, "The Carnegie Medal–winner’s fans will not be disappointed."

SF Site concludes with this:
The Wee Free Men is a funny, funny book. It brims with memorable visuals. It's full of all the elements of a life well-lived -a sense of right and wrong (even when reinterpreted by the Wee Free Men), imagination, courage, love, the ability to dream and the ability to know when it's time to stop dreaming and open one's eyes (and then open one's eyes again -once more, read the book and you'll understand). Wholeheartedly recommended for readers of all ages.