Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Dead Zone

The Dead Zone is a 1983 Cronenberg horror film about a man (played by Christopher Walken) who wakes up after 5 years in a coma to discover he has psychic abilities. It also stars Tom Skerritt, Colleen Dewhurst, and Martin Sheen. It's based on the Stephen King novel by the same name, which I haven't read. This isn't the kind of horror movie that has gore or monsters but more like a science fiction concept. If you knew the future and could change it, would you? Should you?


Roger Ebert gives it 3 1/2 out of 4 stars and opens the review with this:
"The Dead Zone" does what only a good supernatural thriller can do: It makes us forget it is supernatural. Like "Rosemary's Baby" and "The Exorcist," it tells its story so strongly through the lives of sympathetic, believable people that we not only forgive the gimmicks, we accept them. There is pathos in what happens to the Christopher Walken character in this movie and that pathos would never be felt if we didn't buy the movie's premise.
Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 90%.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Pleasures and Pains of Coffee

Honoré de Balzac died on August 18th in 1850 at the age of 51. He fueled his intense writing schedule with coffee, which could help explain his poor health. Let's remember that anything can be overdone. He wrote an essay called The Pleasures and Pains of Coffee, which can be read online here. It begins with this:
Coffee is a great power in my life; I have observed its effects on an epic scale. Coffee roasts your insides. Many people claim coffee inspires them, but, as everybody knows, coffee only makes boring people even more boring. Think about it: although more grocery stores in Paris are staying open until midnight, few writers are actually becoming more spiritual.

But as Brillat-Savarin has correctly observed, coffee sets the blood in motion and stimulates the muscles; it accelerates the digestive processes, chases away sleep, and gives us the capacity to engage a little longer in the exercise of our intellects.
and he suggests this method of using the brew:
For a while - for a week or two at most - you can obtain the right amount of stimulation with one, then two cups of coffee brewed from beans that have been crushed with gradually increasing force and infused with hot water.

For another week, by decreasing the amount of water used, by pulverizing the coffee even more finely, and by infusing the grounds with cold water, you can continue to obtain the same cerebral power.

When you have produced the finest grind with the least water possible, you double the dose by drinking two cups at a time; particularly vigorous constitutions can tolerate three cups. In this manner one can continue working for several more days.
Here's Paul Giamatti's interpretation of what this looks like:

Me? I don't recommend it. I suggest you enjoy coffee as you like it for the taste.

Please join the weekly T Stands for Tuesday blog gathering and share a drink with us.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Death Week

Here in Memphis we are in the middle of Death Week, as the anniversary week of Elvis Presley's death is popularly known. There are a lot of activities in town for the observance, and there are always an increased number of tourists. Graceland has a full schedule. The Memphis Travel site has suggestions. If you can't come to Memphis in person, Graceland offers virtual tours of the mansion exterior, the mansion foyer, and the Jungle Room. You can take a virtual tour of Sun Studio, where Elvis was first recorded.

The actual date of his death (well, if you believe he's dead. Not everyone buys into that view.) is August 16. This year is the 40th anniversary. Take a moment on the day, if you will, and remember Elvis. He was only 42 years old when he died.

If you want to watch a movie, I'd recommend my favorite King Creole, directed by Michael Curtiz and also starring Carolyn Jones, Walter Matthau, Dean Jagger, and Vic Morrow. The film got good reviews and is still well thought of. You can rent it for $2.99. Here's a trailer:

Another one of his best films is Flaming Star with Barbara Eden. He plays the son of a Kiowa mother and a Texas rancher father. You can rent it for $2.99. Here's the trailer:

Elvis could actually act, but his string-songs-together movies did better at the box office so there tended to be pressure to keep putting out more of them.

You can pass on the movies if you like and just listen to his music instead.

If I Can Dream:

That's All Right (Mama):

Heartbreak Hotel, my personal favorite:

It's not that I've been a particularly ardent fan of Elvis, but this is Memphis after all. I'm showing respect.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The House that Dripped Blood

The House that Dripped Blood is a 1970 anthology horror film starring Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Denholm Elliott, and Jon Pertwee. If you like haunted house movies and the anthology format, this is worth a watch.

Embedding is disabled, but you can watch it at Youtube at this link.


The New York Times has a mixed review, but praises the director, saying, "As a director, Peter Duffell, though at no time a stickler for needless subtleties does better, the better his material. In fairness I should say that when he doesn't have to creak a door, he doesn't; and when he can play with a characterization he does."

Empire Online closes with this: "One of the best Amicus anthology movies, this is an enjoyable affair full of affectionate horror homage." Moria has a mixed review.

The Horror Movie a Day blog has a positive review. says, "The film is extraordinary from start to finish thanks to its exceptional writing, a star-studded cast, and a crew that enlivens what is, for the most part, a stage-bound production." concludes, "... this creepy, atmospheric and choreographed well film will satisfy any lover of horror anthologies." Rotten Tomatoes has a 78% critics score.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Libeled Lady

Libeled Lady (1936) is a screwball comedy starring Jean Harlow, William Powell, Myrna Loy, and Spencer Tracy. These kinds of comedies aren't really my thing, but this is cute enough.


The New York Times says,
A sardonic comedy, with slapstick smudges and a liberal bedaubing of farce, it takes several freedoms with the press, liberties with the statutes and jousts at justice—all in the merriest of moods. And offhand we can think of a dozen reasons why you should find it a thoroughly agreeable entertainment.
Slant Magazine gives it 2 out of 4 stars and concludes, "It’s a laidback actor’s showcase where they remain kind of charming, kind of fun—even when the movie surrounding them is just kind of lukewarm." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics rating of 82%.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Knick Knack

Knick Knack is a 1989 short animated Pixar film:

Cute. You'll get a real kick out of this one.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Shiloh National Military Park

We passed Shiloh National Military Park on our way to our vacation destination and decided to stop for a while on the way home. It was an impressive place, filled with huge monuments and steeped in blood and history. The numbers of dead at the Battle of Shiloh were greater than any other battles in the war to that point. Union casualties were 13,047, and the Confederacy lost 10,699. The South lost their army's commander, Albert Sidney Johnston, as well as Brigadier General Adley H. Gladden.
"I saw an open field, in our possession on the second day, over which the Confederates had made repeated charges the day before, so covered with dead that it would have been possible to walk across the clearing, in any direction, stepping on dead bodies, without a foot touching the ground." —Ulysses S. Grant
Ambrose Bierce fought as an officer for the Union at Shiloh and wrote What I Saw at Shiloh, which includes this:
And this was, O so long ago! How they come back to me - dimly and brokenly, but with what a magic spell - those years of youth when I was soldiering! Again I hear the far warble of blown bugles. Again I see the tall, blue smoke of camp-fires ascending from the dim valleys of Wonderland. There steals upon my sense the ghost of an odor from pines that canopy the ambuscade. I feel upon my cheek the morning mist that shrouds the hostile camp unaware of its doom, and my blood stirs at the ringing rifle-shot of the solitary sentinel. Unfamiliar landscapes, glittering with sunshine or sullen with rain, come to me demanding recognition, pass, vanish and give place to others. Here in the night stretches a wide and blasted field studded with half-extinct fires burning redly with I know not what presage of evil. Again I shudder as I note its desolation and its awful silence. Where was it? To what monstrous inharmony of death was it the visible prelude?
Henry Morton Stanley of "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?" fame fought for the Confederacy and was captured. He joined the Union army 2 months later.

Here are the gates to the cemetery proper and some sections of grave markers:

I looked for Confederate soldier graves but found none until I came across the mass graves in these trenches:

There are reportedly two Confederate dead interred in the actual main cemetery, but I didn't find them.

Wikipedia has this comparison of the armies:
On the eve of battle, Grant's and Johnston's armies were of comparable size, but the Confederates were poorly armed with antique weapons, including shotguns, hunting rifles, pistols, flintlock muskets, and even a few pikes; however, some regiments, such as the 6th and 7th Kentucky Infantry, had Enfield rifles. The troops approached the battle with very little combat experience; Braxton Bragg's men from Pensacola and Mobile were the best trained. Grant's army included 32 out of 62 infantry regiments who had combat experience at Fort Donelson. One half of his artillery batteries and most of his cavalry were also combat veterans
There are markers throughout the park explaining who was where and what happened when. It's hard to take in how horrible it must have been. Death is everywhere, even now.

photo from Wikipedia

There is a reconstruction of Shiloh Methodist Church, site of the battle and for which the battle was named:

A United Methodist Church congregation continues to be active here in the park:

The Tennessee Monument:

It's heart-breaking. It really requires more time than just half a day. I wish there'd been a restaurant across the road where we could have taken a break for lunch and then returned. Time is required to begin to take it all in. People are stupid, and war is hell, and I wish -oh, how I wish!- we would ever learn.

This is a 20 minute National Geographic video on the battle:

There is a 2-hour virtual tour of the battlefield from C-Span here.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane

The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane (1976) is a horror/thriller movie about a 13-year old girl with a dark secret. It stars Jodie Foster (as the "little girl" from the title) and Martin Sheen. It was nominated for 5 Saturn Awards, winning 2: best horror film, and best actress. I watched until the emphasis on the much older Martin Sheen making sexual advances towards the 13-year old Jodie Foster got too distasteful. At 13, she was much too young for that to be watchable for me. You can watch it online here.


The NYT calls it "a mild-mannered horror movie for people who don't much enjoy being scared." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics rating of 90%.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Oasis Steakhouse

While we were on vacation we went into nearby Winchester, TN, and had lunch at Oasis Steakhouse. We enjoy going to local restaurants, and this was a good choice. Good food, good service, reasonable prices. We'd definitely be regulars if we lived around there.

You see all the lemon in my unsweetened iced tea? That's evidence that I like lemon but that The Husband and The Younger Son do not. When the wait person brings lemon I get all the benefit! Yummmmm.

Please share a drink of your choosing with us at the weekly T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering hosted by Bleubeard and Elizabeth.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Standing Yoga Pose Videos

Be careful out there. 
It's not like I know what I'm doing, so I can't advise you. 
I adapt to suit my own needs. 
Please know your own body, know your own limitations, and do what's best for you.

These are all sequences from a variety of teachers that focus on standing poses. They all came from Youtube channels.

from Yoga Journal:

20 minutes:

a playlist of standing yoga poses from Ekhart Yoga:

from Five Parks Yoga:

from Christina Sell:

from Body Wisdom:

from Tim Senesi:

from Yoga Upload:

Sunday, August 06, 2017


Killpoint is a 1984 action film starring Cameron Mitchell and Richard Roundtree. This is an 80s period piece with lots of shooting and a fun soundtrack. I watched it for Cameron Mitchell, who plays the psychopathic leader of a gun-smuggling gang.

via Youtube:

The reviewers seem to have ignored this one.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Film History on Video Online

The Crash Course Youtube channel has basic video courses on a wide variety of subjects, including physics, mythology, sociology, astronomy, anatomy and physiology, U.S. government and politics....

I want to highlight the one on Film History. Here's the introduction:

It's a playlist, which should continue to the next segment automatically. There are 17 videos so far, with more being added, each under 10 minutes long.

Another option is the Ministry of Cinema Youtube channel's 7-video playlist on Cinema's Birth to Modern Day -Learn Film: A Timeline of World Cinema. Its introduction and overview is here:

and each of the videos is about 10 minutes long.

The Annenberg site has a video series on American Cinema available online
"A video instructional series on film history for college and high school classrooms and adult learners; 10 one-hour and 3 half-hour video programs"
but I'm unable to embed it here. It can be viewed at their site.

I've seen both the playlists from Youtube but haven't finished the ones from as they are longer and are taking a while for me to work my way through. The longer videos include commentary by people involved in the film industry.

I love movies and am trying to see a wide variety from a wide range of genres and time periods. I usually work from lists of "best" films. I won't live long enough to see them all, but I know I'll never run short of viewing material.

Friday, August 04, 2017

The Dark Tower

I had hoped to finish the seven books in The Dark Tower series before I saw the movie, but I didn't make it. I finished book six yesterday and saw the film later in the evening at 19:19. The Dark Tower (2017) is very loosely based on the series and on just a few of the characters from the first book.

On the positive side,
  • I consider it a blessing I didn't have to endure the Odetta/Detta/Susannah/Mia character from the books.
  • I'm always glad to see Idris Elba, and Matthew McConaughey plays it up well. 
On the negative side:
  • Roland is the main character in the books while the boy is just one of several supporting characters, but the film focuses on the boy and begins and ends with everything revolving around him and his "shine";
  • The Man in Black is a motivating force in the background in the books instead of the scene-chewing CEO of Evil Bad Guys he's turned into in the film;
  • The film is short and lacks the depth of the books, leaving out major motivating plot points that drive the books; and
  • The iconic beginning in the first novel with Roland in the wilderness seems like the perfect way to begin the movie, and it seems such a wasted opportunity to neglect that.
I'm glad I saw it. If there are more movies made I will certainly watch them. No one will prefer this to the book. There's just too much difference, too much missing, and too much is lost in the translation to film. This story should be made into a miniseries, or the film should've


The New York Times, Rolling Stone, and The Guardian have negative reviews.

Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 19%.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park

photo from

We took a morning out of our vacation to spend at The Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park in Manchester, TN, about a 40-minute drive from where we were staying. Well worth the trip, this was a peaceful, fascinating place. There's a museum at the entrance:

and several paths with interpretive signs, like these:

The trails were generally flat and easy walking, but there were areas where you could climb down close to the several falls

for beautiful views:

I'm so glad I'm still able to navigate these kinds of woodland trails. It's such a joy to experience environments like this.

They use this target with period-style spears:

I'm surprised this place isn't better known. They have camping facilities, helpful staff, interesting native mound structures, and gorgeous well-kept trails. Go! You won't regret it.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Burnt Offerings

Burnt Offerings is a 1976 horror film starring Karen Black, Oliver Reed, Bette Davis, Eileen Heckart, and Burgess Meredith. This is the story of a house that takes care of itself. There is no suspense here at all, but the cast is worth watching. That said, I watched a while but didn't stick with it 'til the end.

The New York Times says, "Here is the house as vampire—alluring, renewing itself on injury, violence and death; capable of menance, vengeance, outrage and murder." Moria says, "The film’s one novelty is the concept of the house itself.... Unfortunately, this remains a good idea, nothing more." 1000 Misspent Hours calls it "an uneven, underdeveloped film."

Roger Ebert gives it 1 1/2 stars and says, "What's mysterious is that the filmmakers were able to sell such a weary collection of ancient cliches for cold hard cash." Rotten Tomatoes has a 33% critics score.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Alfred's on Beale

The Daughter and I had never been to Alfred's on Beale but had an urge to sit up on that upstairs deck. It was delightful. Here's the view from there:

We decided to try their BBQ, though the menu offers a variety.

Great BBQ! And the sides were good, too.

While we were on Beale we saw these guitar sculptures all up and down the street.

Aren't they a great addition?!

And here I am with my feet ten feet off of Beale:

as it says in the song

Ah, Memphis. Home, sweet home.

Please join the T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering and share a drink with us.