Sunday, February 25, 2018

Rosemary's Baby

Rosemary's Baby . I had never seen it before. It's creepy and unmissable as a horror classic, but it's dated.


film via Dailymotion:

Criterion says, "it has never been outdone for sheer psychological terror". AMC's has an extensive plot description, calls it "darkly atmospheric" and says it's a "creepy, eerie gothic film". Vanity Fair calls it "an iconic film" and details the curse. The New York Times has a positive review, faulting it only as being not scary enough.

Roger Ebert gives it 4 stars and opens a positive review with this:
Roman Polanski's "Rosemary's Baby" is a brooding, macabre film, filled with the sense of unthinkable danger. Strangely enough it also has an eerie sense of humor almost until the end. It is a creepy film and a crawly film, and a film filled with things that go bump in the night. It is very good.
Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 99%.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Monsieur Pamplemousse and the French Solution

Monsieur Pamplemousse and the French Solution is the 19th book in a mystery series by Michael Bond, better known for his Paddington Bear books. These are lots of fun

from the back of the book:
When Monsieur Pamplemousse gets an urgent summons from the Director of Le Guide, he knows that there is trouble at the top. But neither he nor his faithful sniffer dog, Pommes Frites, expects the trouble to involve a nun who is in the habit of joining the Mile High Club or a full-scale smear campaign targeting Le Guide's credibility as France's premier restaurant and hotel guide. Someone has been spreading worrying rumours among the staff and infiltrating the company files -awarding hotel prizes for bedbugs and praising egg and chip signature dishes. Even Pommes Frites has become a victim of the assault. It could all spell the ruin for Le Guide, but Pamplemousse is on the case...
I have also read the following others from this series:

#2 Monsieur Pamplemousse and the Secret Mission
#6 Monsieur Pamplemousse Investigates
#8 Monsieur Pamplemousse Stands Firm
#11 Monsieur Pamplemousse Afloat
#12 Monsieur Pamplemousse on Probation
#13 Monsieur Pamplemousse on Vacation
#14 Monsieur Pamplemousse Hits the Headlines

Friday, February 23, 2018


Rope is a 1948 Hitchcock movie starring James Stewart, John Dall, Farley Granger, Joan Chandler, and Sir Cedric Hardwicke. Wikipedia says it's "notable for taking place in real time and being edited so as to appear as a single continuous shot through the use of long takes". This is a classic.


The Guardian says, "Hitchcock delights in toying with his audience, repelling and luring his viewers into the scene of a crime – and nowhere more audaciously than in Rope". The NYT has two reviews: one from the time of its release and another from 1984.

Slant Magazine gives it 3.5 out of 4 stars. Roger Ebert says, "“Rope” remains one of the most interesting experiments ever attempted by a major director working with big box-office names, and it’s worth seeing". Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 97%.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Dream Vessel

The Dream Vessel is the second book in the series of two by Jeff Bredenberg (1953-2010). It's different from most post-apocalyptic stories I've read -sailing ships? pirates?- and that alone makes it worth reading.

from the back of the book:

A glorious uprisingsmashed the power of the Monitor -the bloodthirsty dictator who enslaved the inhabitants of a continent already ravaged by nuclear devastation. Now rebel leader Rosenthal Webb must spread the message of freedom to what remains of the world. To do so, he needs a great sailing ship. And that means consorting with slavers, pirates and cutthroats -trusting them to serve his cause and transport his emissaries safely across a vast ocean of breathtaking possibility and horrific peril.

And somewhere beyond the horizon, Pec-Pec is waiting -Rasta God, thief and mystical trickster- to bend the noble mission to his incomprehensible will... and move the world into his own vision of an impossible future.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

In the Loop

In the Loop is a 2009 political satire/black comedy starring Peter Capaldi. It spears the beginning of the Iraq war.

via Youtube:

The New York Times calls it "a sharply written, fast-talking, almost dementedly articulate satire on modern statecraft". The Guardian calls it "superb".

Slate Magazine says, "It's The War Room (the 1993 documentary about Bill Clinton's upstart campaign strategists), but shot in the war room of Dr. Strangelove" and praises Capaldi's performance as "the jewel in this movie's comic crown." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 94%.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

National Fill-In-The-Blank Month

February is the month set aside to give attention to some serious issues. It's Black History Month and American Heart Month, for example. But it's also Great American Pie Month and National Cherry Pie Month and National Hot Breakfast Month, so I'll be eating hot cherry pie for breakfast while I research some of the more serious issues. I enjoy following the bunny trails as I look up topics and follow links. Please join the weekly T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering hosted by Bleubeard and Elizabeth.

To be honest, I think there are so many things each month is dedicated to that it defeats the purpose of having a month dedicated to something. lists these:

  • Free and Open Source Software Month
  • American Heart Month
  • An Affair to Remember Month
  • Black History Month
  • Canned Food Month
  • Creative Romance Month
  • Great American Pie Month
  • National Bake for Family Fun Month
  • National Bird Feeding Month
  • National Cherry Month
  • National Children’s Dental Health Month
  • National Grapefruit Month
  • National Heart Month
  • National Hot Breakfast Month
  • National Library Lover’s Month
  • National Macadamia Nut Month
  • National North American Inclusion Month
  • National Snack Food Month
  • National Weddings Month
  • National Embroidery Month
  • Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month has an even longer list:

  • Adopt A Rescued Rabbit Month
  • African-American History Month
  • AMD/Low Vision Awareness Month
  • American Heart Month
  • American History Month
  • Bake for Family Fun Month
  • Berry Fresh in the Sunshine State Month
  • Black History/Heritage Month (Canada)
  • Chocolate Lover's Month
  • Creative Romance Month
  • Deaf History Month
  • Fabulous Florida Strawberry Month
  • Festival of Camellias Month
  • From Africa to Virginia Month
  • Great American Pies Month
  • Greek-American Heritage Month
  • Human Relations Month
  • International Boost Self-Esteem Month
  • Irish-American Heritage Month
  • Library Lovers Month
  • Marfan Syndrome Awareness Month
  • Marijuana Awareness Month
  • Mental Retardation Awareness Month
  • National African American History Month (Black History)
  • National Bird Feeding Month
  • National Black History Month (African American)
  • National Boost-Your-Self-Esteem Month
  • National Canned Food Month
  • National Care About Your Indoor Air Month
  • National Cherry Pie Month
  • National Children's Dental Health Month
  • National Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Awareness Month
  • National Condom Month
  • National Craft Month
  • National Dental Month
  • National Get To Know and Independent Real Estate Broker Month
  • National Grapefruit Month
  • National Hot Breakfast Month
  • National Laugh-Friendly Month
  • National Mend A Broken Heart Month
  • National Multiple Sclerosis Education and Awareness Month
  • National Parent Leadership Month
  • National Pet Dental Health Month
  • National Senior Independence Month
  • National Snack Food Month
  • National Sweet Potato Month
  • National Time Management Month
  • National Weddings Month
  • National Women's History Month
  • North Carolina Sweet Potato Month
  • Plant the Seeds of Greatness Month
  • Relationship Wellness Month
  • Return Shopping Carts to the Supermarket Month
  • Spiritual Wellness Month
  • Spunky Old Broads Month
  • Sweet Potato Month
  • Wise Health Care Consumer Month
  • Worldwide Renaissance of the Heart Month
It begins to lose all meaning.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Road to the Stars

Road to the Stars is a 1959 Soviet film. The special effects of life in space were groundbreaking and the film is said to have been influential in Kubrick's making of 2001: A Space Odyssey. The first 24 minutes of this 48-minute film covers the history of space flight before human exploration, and the 2nd half of the film takes us into space to a space station and a landing on the moon.

via Youtube:

Sunday, February 18, 2018

In the Mood for Love

In the Mood for Love is a 2000 award-winning film directed by Wong Kar-wai. This makes it onto my Saddest Movies Ever list. Nobody is happy, nobody gets anything they want, no good comes of it, sadness prevails. This is a beautiful film, but be careful when you choose to watch it. It's deeply moving.

via Youtube:

This Guardian reviewer declares it his favorite film and says, "There are many reasons to adore the film, most obviously its almost unworldly, dream-like beauty." DVD Talk calls it "a phenomenal picture; a marvelously acted tale of longing that is moving and often stunning in appearance. It's definitely a must-see."

Senses of Cinema has a lengthy article that says,
Wong’s key elements –what older critics might call “atmosphere” and “characterizations”– are thus grounded in abstraction rather than plot, and it’s hard to think of a recent movie that offers just such abstract ingredients that are by themselves sufficient reasons to see the picture. But it is precisely this quality of aesthetic abstraction that makes up an ideal dreamtime of Hong Kong, which is Wong’s ode to the territory.
Roger Ebert calls it "a lush story of unrequited love that looks the way its songs sound." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 90%.

There's a segment of an online film criticism course devoted to this film:

from this video: "It was released in 2000 and hailed an instant classic, winning awards all over the globe". I'm glad I'd seen the movie before I watched this; but this offers a helpful exploration of the movie, including technical elements and the social and political context.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Naked Lunch 42

I can't see the entire number on the door, but it certainly looks like a 42. This is from the first scene of the film Naked Lunch.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Black Moon

image from Wikipedia

One of the definitions of Black Moon is a month without a full moon. This can only occur in a February and only occurs about every 20 years. This month will be the last time until 2037. So get out there and look at that -oh, wait, you can't actually see the absence of a full moon. But there'll be two full moons in March, the second half of a Double Blue Moon, so you can have twice the full moon joy next month to make up for it.

This short video demonstrates the moon phases:

I had never heard of this month-with-no-full-moon occurrence until this month when it's happened twice before during my lifetime. It truly is the case that I learn something new every day!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Lost Hearts

Lost Hearts is a 1904 ghost story by M.R. James. It begins,
It was, as far as I can ascertain, in September of the year 1811 that a post-chaise drew up before the door of Aswarby Hall, in the heart of Lincolnshire. The little boy who was the only passenger in the chaise, and who jumped out as soon as it had stopped, looked about him with the keenest curiosity during the short interval that elapsed between the ringing of the bell and the opening of the hall door. He saw a tall, square, red-brick house, built in the reign of Anne; a stone-pillared porch had been added in the purer classical style of 1790; the windows of the house were many, tall and narrow, with small panes and thick white woodwork. A pediment, pierced with a round window, crowned the front. There were wings to right and left, connected by curious glazed galleries, supported by colonnades, with the central block. These wings plainly contained the stables and offices of the house. Each was surmounted by an ornamental cupola with a gilded vane.

An evening light shone on the building, making the window-panes glow like so many fires. Away from the Hall in front stretched a flat park studded with oaks and fringed with firs, which stood out against the sky. The clock in the church-tower, buried in trees on the edge of the park, only its golden weather-cock catching the light, was striking six, and the sound came gently beating down the wind. It was altogether a pleasant impression, though tinged with the sort of melancholy appropriate to an evening in early autumn, that was conveyed to the mind of the boy who was standing in the porch waiting for the door to open to him.

The post-chaise had brought him from Warwickshire, where, some six months before, he had been left an orphan. Now, owing to the generous offer of his elderly cousin, Mr Abney, he had come to live at Aswarby. The offer was unexpected, because all who knew anything of Mr Abney looked upon him as a somewhat austere recluse, into whose steady-going household the advent of a small boy would import a new and, it seemed, incongruous element. The truth is that very little was known of Mr Abney’s pursuits or temper.
It can be read online here. It was adapted for television in 1973:

Ghost stories have a long history in the English language, and I've found that the older ones can be much scarier than modern stories that depend on blood and gore.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Real Things Don't Change

Real Things Don't Change:

by Porcelan, a Memphis musician. Isn't this song beautiful?

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is a 2014 science fiction book, the debut novel of Becky Chambers. I enjoy space opera, and this is a good one. The world-building is believable, and the characters are fully-formed and sympathetic.

There's a passage on tea I'd like to share with the T Stand for Tuesday blogger gathering:
There were few things Dr. Chef enjoyed more than a cup of tea. He made tea for the crew every day at breakfast time, of course, but that involved an impersonal heap of leaves dumped into a clunky dispenser. A solitary cup of tea required more care, a blend carefully chosen to match his day. He found the ritual of it quite calming: heating the water, measuring the crisp leaves and curls of dried fruit into the tiny basket, gently brushing the excess away with his fingerpads, watching color rise through water like smoke as it brewed. Tea was a moody drink.

There had been no tea on his home planet.
from the back of the book:
When Rosemary Harper joins the crew of the Wayfarer, she isn't expecting much. The patched-up ship has seen better days, but it offers her everything she could possibly want: a spot to call home, a chance to explore the far-off corners of the galaxy and some distance from her past. And nothing could be further from what she's known than the crew of the Wayfarer.

From Sissix, the exotic reptilian pilot, to Kizzy and Jenks, the chaty engineers who keep the ship running, to the noble captain Ashby, life aboard is chaotic and crazy -exactly what Rosemary wants. That is, until the crew is offered the job of a lifetime: tunneling wormholes through space to a distant planet. Sure, they'll earn enough money to live comfortably for years, but risking her life wasn't part of the job description.

The journey through the galaxy is full of excitement, adventure and mishaps for the Wayfarer team. And along the way, Rosemary comes to realize that a crew is a family, and that family isn't necessarily the worst thing in the universe... as long as you actually like them.
A favorite passage:
The truth is, Rosemary, that you are capable of anything. Good or bad. You always have been, and you always will be. Given the right push, you, too, could do horrible things. That darkness exists within all of us. You think every soldier who picked up a cutter gun was a bad person? No. She was just doing what the soldier next to her was doing, who was doing what the soldier next to her was doing, and so on and so on. And I bet most of them -not all, but most- who made it through the war spent a long time after trying to understand what they'd done. Wondering how they ever could have done it in the first place. Wondering when killing became so comfortable.

All you can do, Rosemary -all any of us can do- is work to be something positive instead. That is a choice that every sapient must make every day of their life. The universe is what we make of it. It's up to you to decide what part you will play.
The Guardian calls it "a quietly profound, humane tour de force that tackles politics and gender issues with refreshing optimism." The Financial Times describes it as "a feel-good tale of non-conformity, gender fluidity, multiculturalism and unorthodox sexual relationships."

LocusMag says, "It’s like settling into a nice warm bath on a cold wet day, sort of like a cozy mystery, but with aliens and wormholes." io9 opens by calling it "probably the most fun that you’ll have with a space opera novel this year. It’s exciting, adventurous, and the cozy sort of space opera that seems to be in short supply lately." Tor says it's a "progressive piece de resistance" and "a delight".

Strange Horizons opens with this: "This wonderfully imaginative and quirky novel focuses on the crew of a small working spaceship, the Wayfarer, and their everyday life, relationships, incidents, and conflicts."

Monday, February 12, 2018

High Lonesome

High Lonesome is a 1950 western starring John Drew Barrymore (John Barrymore's son and Drew Barrymore's father), Chill Wills, and Jack Elam. It's the only directing credit of Alan Le May, better known as a writer for The Searchers and The Unforgiven.

via Youtube:

The New York Times describes it as "A Mixture of Mystery and the West".

TCM has information.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Some Buried Caesar

Some Buried Caesar is the sixth in the series of Nero Wolfe books by Rex Stout, first published in book form in 1939. Lily Rowan, Archie Goodwin's long-time love interest, is introduced early in this book. It's on the list of 100 Favorite Mysteries of the Century by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association. I'm working my way through the books in this series that The Younger Son owns. They are fun, easy reads.

This one is a rare example of Nero Wolfe venturing outside his home city and solving a case that comes up there. He has gone to a large exhibition (a regional fair-type environment) to enter his orchids in competition. I got a kick out of the many scenes that take place in the Methodist food tent. Wolfe knows who has the best cooking available.

from the back of the book:
An automobile breakdown strands Nero Wolfe and Archie in the middle of a private pasture -and a family feud over a prize bull. A restaurateur's plan to buy the stud and barbecue it as a publicity stunt may be in poor taste, but it isn't a crime...
until Hickory Caesar Grindon, the soon-to-be-beefsteak bull, is found pawing the remains of a family scion. Wolfe is sure the idea that Caesar is the murderer is, well, pure bull. Now the great detective is on the horns of a dilemma as a veritable stampede of suspects -including a young ady Archie has his eye on- conceals a special breed of killer who wins a blue ribbon for sheer audacity.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Ellen Price Wood

Ellen Wood, English author, died on this date of complications from bronchitis at the age of 73. Mostly forgotten now it seems, she was a popular novelist in her day. She wrote from 1851 to 1899 and supported her family after her husband's business failure. More biographical information is available at VictorianWeb,, and the University of Adelaide.

Her novel East Lynne (1861) is her best-known work. It can be read online here and listened to here at Librivox. It was adapted for film in 1931 directed by Frank Lloyd. That film received a nomination for the Best Picture Oscar but lost to Cimarron. Another adaptation in 1982 starring Martin Shaw can be viewed via Youtube:

The Channings was published in 1862 and can be read online here. It was adapted for film in 1920. You can read more of her work here.

As I come across authors like this, popular and well-known in their day but whose names are not generally recognized today, I wonder which of our current crop of best-selling authors will still be read 100 years from now.

Friday, February 09, 2018

The Slender Thread

The Slender Thread is a 1965 drama film directed by Sydney Pollack and starring Sidney Poitier, Anne Bancroft, Telly Savalas, Edward Asner, and Dabney Coleman. Interesting. The relationships are well-developed. from Wikipedia:
Poitier portrays Alan, a college student who is volunteering at Seattle's then-new Crisis Clinic, a crisis call center. Shortly after beginning his night shift, Alan receives a call from a woman named Inga (Bancroft) who says she has just taken a lethal dose of pills and wants to talk to someone before she dies. The story line follows the efforts of Alan, a psychiatrist (Telly Savalas) and a detective (Ed Asner) to locate Inga and her husband (Steven Hill). Various flashback scenes depict the events that led Inga to make the attempt on her life.
part 1:

part 2:

The New York Times calls it a "dark tale". Slant Magazine has a review. Variety says, "As a showy vehicle for talents of Sidney Poitier adn Anne Bancroft, the production offers mounting tension".

DVD Talk calls it "excellent". Rotten Tomatoes has an audience rating of 76%.

Thursday, February 08, 2018

The Obelisk Gate

The Obelisk Gate (2016) by N.K. Jemison is the award-winning second volume in the Broken Earth trilogy. I've already bought the third book. This is a wonderful read, hard to put down.

from the back of the book:
The Season of endings grows darker as civilization fades into the long, cold night.

Essun has found shelter, but not her missing daughter. Instead there is Alabaster Tenring, destroyer of the world, with a request that would seal the fate of the Stillness forever.
The author introduces the series here and talks about how she became an author:

You can read the beginning of this book (a seamless continuation of the first one) here. It's obviously not a stand-alone novel. Go get the first one, and let me know if you like it as much as I do.

NPR closes by saying,
Beyond the meticulous pacing, the thorough character work, and the staggering ambition and revelations of the narration, Jemisin is telling a story of our present, our failures, our actions in the face of repeated trauma, our responses to the heat and pressure of our times. Her accomplishment in this series is tremendous. It pole vaults over the expectations I had for what epic fantasy should be and stands in magnificent testimony to what it could be.
Kirkus Reviews concludes a positive review by calling it "stunning". Publishers Weekly calls it "compelling, challenging, and utterly gripping".

Wednesday, February 07, 2018


Ant-Man is a 2015 superhero film. The Husband loves the superhero movies, and we're living in a time of plenty for that. I'm not as big a fan, though I've enjoyed some of them. I didn't like this one as much as many of the others. It seems more silly than anything else to me. Reviews are positive, though, and it made bunches of money.


The New York Times says, "Like “Guardians of the Galaxy,” last year’s off-brand Marvel hit, “Ant-Man” dabbles in the bright, playful colors of the superhero spectrum, reveling in moments of cartoonish whimsy and smirky humor." Rolling Stone gives it 3 out of 4 stars and says it "packs a ton of fun into a teeny package". Variety has a positive review.

Roger Ebert's site gives it 3.5 out of 4 stars and says it "provides the most pure, uncomplicated fun, and even joy, of any Marvel picture I’ve seen." Rotten Tomatoes has an 86% audience score.

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

A Summer’s Day, Crimea

A Summer’s Day, Crimea (1917):

by Sergei Vinogradov, who was born on July 1, 1869, and who died of pneumonia on February 5, 1938.

This is a tempting view. Where I am it's a cold, dreary February day, and a warm sea-side terrace like that pictured in this painting would suit me well right now. Where that lady is having a cooling drink and wearing a summer hat, I'm drinking a hot cup of tea and wearing a warm scarf. Summer can't get here soon enough to suit me. Unless there's a bit of snow. That would be a treat.

You can see more of his work here and here:

Please join the T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering hosted weekly by Bleubeard and Elizabeth.

Monday, February 05, 2018

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and Meditation

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who died on this date in 2008, was an influence on me during my young adult years. He introduced Transcendental Meditation, which appealed to me back in the day and served as an introduction to me to meditation outside the Christian tradition.

Here he talks about Transcendental Meditation (1968):

This is an introduction by Bob Roth, explaining what it is, what it isn't, and how to get started:

I went to one of their group introductory sessions decades ago, but the system of meditation taught through this organization has always been more expensive than I was willing or able to commit to. It did spur me to further research into various types of meditation, though, so I credit it as a transforming part of my life.

Nam myoho renge kyo is free:

and I learned about it from The Monkees:

It helps to be open to experiences from a wide variety of sources.

Sunday, February 04, 2018

The Reef

The Reef is a 1912 novel by Edith Wharton. You can read it online here and here and listen to it via Librivox here. There are discussion questions here.

from the back of the book:
"I put most of myself into that opus," Edith Wharton said of The Reef, possibly her most autobiographical novel. Published in 1912, it was, Bernard Berenson told Henry Adams, "better than any previous work excepting Ethan Frome."

A challenge to the moral climate of the day, The Reef follows the fancies of George Darrow, a young diplomat en route from London to France, intent on proposing to the widowed Anna Leath. Unsettled by Anna's reticence, Darrow drifts into an affair with Sophy Viner, a charmingly naive and impecunious young woman whose relations with Darrow and Anna's family threaten his prospects for success.

For its dramatic construction and acute insight into social mores and the multifaceted problem of sexuality, The Reef stands as one of Edith Wharton's most daring works of fiction.
I have read several books by Wharton, including The House of Mirth, The Custom of the Country, and The Age of Innocence.

This is a 27-minute lifestyle video highlighting her home and design skills and demonstrating a dinner there:

Not a documentary but a lovely view of the house.

Saturday, February 03, 2018

Independence Day: Resurgence

Independence Day: Resurgence is the award-winning 2016 sequel to the 1996 Independence Day movie. Roland Emmerich directs. It stars Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Judd Hirsch, Brent Spiner, and Sela Ward. I loved the original and was excited to see this. Reviews weren't generally positive, but I got what I expected and that satisfied me.


The New York Times has a negative review. Rolling Stone says, "Hell, we're all confused. If you want to enjoy even a few minutes of this sorry-ass sequel, it's best not to think."

Variety calls it "scattershot but frequently spectacular". Empire Online concludes, "As spectacular as you’d hope from a sequel to the 1996 planet-toaster, and as amusingly cheesy. You’ll enjoy yourself enough that you won’t even miss Will Smith." Time says it's boring.

Roger Ebert's site gives it 1.5 stars and says, "It’s not completely terrible... It’s just dull and hollow". Rotten Tomatoes has an aggregate score of 30%.

Friday, February 02, 2018


Presentation of Jesus at the Temple by Fra Angelico

And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, 
they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord. (Luke 2:22 KJV)

Candlemas is an old Christian celebration of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple. American churches generally ignore this and people focus on that groundhog. But there are suitable musical selections for the day, including Maria wallt zum Heiligtum (And to the Temple Mary Went) by Johannes Eccard (1553–1611):

and In Peace and Joy I Now Depart by Martin Luther:

The Nunc dimittis (Song of Simeon)

Simeon’s Song of Praise, by Rembrandt
And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,
Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:
For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;
A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.
And Joseph and Mary marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.

And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.

And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; and she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth. And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him. (Luke 2:25-40)

Thursday, February 01, 2018

The Book of Evidence

The Book of Evidence is a 1989 novel by John Banville. The narrator is a psychopath, and life from his viewpoint is a heartless experience. The writing carries you in the wake of his destruction, as he seems to be completely oblivious to the results of his actions. The Paris Review has an excerpt.

from the back of the book:
After free-falling through the indolence of California and the Mediterranean's sleazy seaside dives, Irish ex-patriot Frederick Charles St. John Venderveld Montgomery is going home. And in the dull, familiar confines of his hometown, Freddie becomes obsessed with a novelty: a three-hundred-year-old oil painting. Deciding to steal it to raise money, he senselessly murders an innocent woman along the way.

Shocking and provocative, The Book of Evidence is Freddie Montgomery's chilling first-person account, a confession not only to n act of savagery but to the emptiness of his very existence. From his memories to his crime, to his capture and confrontation with the law, this is the story of a man without a soul -enigmatic, terrifying, and one you will never forget.
The New York Times opens their review with this:
Here is an astonishing, disturbing little novel that might have been coughed up from hell. A first-person narrator confesses to a murder. It's soon apparent, though, that the crime was not inspired by greed, revenge or any other discernible motive. The narrator is a sort of accidental killer - Everyman as monster.
Kirkus Reviews concludes by calling it, "A novel of high moral seriousness, gracefully written--one that lingers on in the mind long after it is read." Publishers Weekly opens, "Comparisons with Camus's The Stranger and Dostoyevski's Crime and Punishment are not lightly made, but spring irresistibly to mind after finishing Banville's dazzling novel" and concludes, "It is difficult to imagine a reader who would not find The Book of Evidence both terrifying and moving."

I have read other books by this author, including The Untouchable and The Sea.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Raise the Red Lantern

Raise the Red Lantern is a 1991 award-winning Chinese film directed by Zhang Yimou. Set in the 1920s, the film tells the story of a young woman who becomes one of the concubines of a wealthy man during the Warlord Era.

You can watch the film at Youtube at this link.


The New York Times calls it "as visually striking as it is dramatically effective". The Guardian says, "No film had a more startling effect in the west than Yimou's Raise the Red Lantern".

Senses of Cinema discusses the film's meaning and says, "It is no wonder that Raise the Red Lantern was banned in China when it was released in 1991 and was never screened in cinemas." Rolling Stone calls it "a magnificent film that confirms Zhang as a world-class director". Empire Online closes with this: "A haunting, beautiful film ably led by the perfectly understated performances of the main actors. A delight."

Roger Ebert has it on his list of Great Movies. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 96%.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The Japanese Fan

The Japanese Fan:

was painted around 1865 by Gustave Léonard de Jonghe, a Belgian painter best known for his portraits, who died on January 28 in 1893. His career ended when he became blind in 1882.

You can see more of his work here, but I chose the one at the top of the post because I see a teapot on that table and found it suitable to share for T Stands for Tuesday. There's an article on his life and work here. Here's a slideshow of some of his paintings:

There's a peaceful feel to his work that I find calming. I offer it for you on this day if politics upsets you. Me? I'm looking forward to the State of the Uniom Address tonight! I'll be watching it on cable and posting my thoughts on Facebook and eating popcorn. I love politics.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Kong: Skull Island

Kong: Skull Island is a 2017 re-imagining of King Kong. I was fully prepared to hate this and hadn't planned on watching it, but The Husband put the disc in while I was sitting there.... And I liked it. It's great fun, mindless action, and explosions. What's to complain about? There's a sequel being discussed, and I'll plan on seeing it in the theater.


The New York Times doesn't like it. The Telegraph gives it 4 out of 5 stars and closes by saying, "the whole film is a kind of eccentric retro-artefact with fun at the forefront of its mind: less Heart of Darkness than darkness with heart."

Rolling Stone gives it 3 out of 4 stars and calls it "damn near irresistible". Variety says, " if the upcoming films prove to be as winning as this one, then audiences eager to get their old giant movie monster on should have nothing to fear." Empire Online says, "This is an uneven adventure that’s saved by the spectacle of its towering title character and the various beasts with whom he shares his island home."

Roger Ebert's site gives it 3 out of 4 stars. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 76%.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Military Road Trail

The Military Road Trail Loop at Village Creek State Park in Arkansas is a continuation of the Lake Austell Trail but can also be reached by way of a separate trailhead at the boat dock pictured above.

I took the upper loop, and The Younger Son took the lower loop.

There were interpretive signs at the beginning of the upper section.

This is part of the Trail of Tears. A tragedy in our nation's history, the Trail of Tears resulted from Andrew Jackson's policies. I'm ashamed that Jackson was a Tennessean, and I'm horrified that our current president has chosen to lift him up with honor.

This trail follows some of the actual route.

Remember the "popular" swinging bridge that was supposed to be on the other trail but which we could never find? Well, at the juncture of upper and lower loop The Younger Son and I met up and saw this sign:

So, instead of me continuing back along the lower loop and The Younger Son going back along the route I had just come along, we joined forces in search of the fabled bridge.

And there it was:

I have to tell you I have never been as disappointed in a trail feature -ever- as I was in this "popular swinging bridge". Bummer.

The trail itself was a good experience. I think I'd quit hyping that bridge if I were them.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Winnie the Pooh

Winnie the Pooh is a 2011 movie that I wasn't enthusiastic about watching. I'm not sure why -maybe because I have such fond memories of the books and some of the earlier animated shows. I was wrong to have doubted. This is a delight!


The New York Times says, "“Winnie the Pooh” may not be a movie that grown-ups seek out on their own, but it may make some of them jealous of the 4-year-olds who are making the noble bear’s acquaintance for the first time." The Guardian describes it: "A bright and snuggly new version of the childhood perennial stays faithful to AA Milne and to EH Shepard's drawings". Rolling Stone closes with this: "Lovely. Just lovely."

Empire Online gives it 4 out of 5 stars and concludes, "As jolly as Tigger, as sweet as honey and as undemanding as a balloon ride, this will delight the wee'uns and put a smile on the face of animation fans of all ages." Roger Ebert calls it "a sweet and innocuous children's movie" and concludes it "could make a nice introduction to moviegoing for a small child." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics rating of 91%.

Friday, January 26, 2018


Embers is a 1942 novel by Sandor Marai. A beautiful, lyrical, flowing novel of the lives of two friends. I loved this one.

from the back of the book:
In this magnificent rediscovered masterpiece of world literature, the Hungarian writer Sandor Marai conjures the mournful glamour of the decaying Austro-Hungarian Empire and the distilled wisdom of its last heirs.

In a secluded woodland castle an old General prepares to receive a rare visitor, a man who was once his closest friend but whom he has not seen in forty-one years. Over the ensuing hours host and guest will fight a duel of words and silences, accusations and evasions. They will exhume the memory of their friendship and that of the General's beautiful, long-dead wife. And they will return to the time the three of them last sat together following a hunt in the nearby forest -a hunt in which no game was taken but during which something was lost forever.
favorite quotes:
No, the secret is that there's no reward and we have to endure our characters and our natures as best we can, because no amount of experience or insight is going to rectify our deficiencies, our self-regard, or our cupidity. We have to learn that our desires do not find any real echo in the world. We have to accept that the people we love do not love us, or not in the way we hope. We have to accept betrayal and disloyalty, and, hardest of all, that someone is finer than we are in character or intelligence.
Do you also believe that what gives our lives their meaning is the passion that suddenly invades us heart, soul, and body, and burns in us forever, no matter what else happens in our lives? And that if we have experienced this much, then perhaps we haven’t lived in vain? Is passion so deep and terrible and magnificent and inhuman? Is it indeed about desiring any one person, or is it about desiring desire itself? That is the question. Or perhaps, is it indeed about desiring a particular person, a single, mysterious other, once and for always, no matter whether that person is good or bad, and the intensity of our feelings bears no relation to that individual’s qualities or behavior?
I am thinking that people find truth and collect experiences in vain, for they cannot change their fundamental natures. And perhaps the only thing in life one can do is to take the givens of one’s fundamental nature and tailor them to reality as cleverly and carefully as one can. That is the most we can accomplish.

The Guardian describes it:
Published in 1942, Embers is a product of Márai's most fertile period, the second world war, when he emigrated into himself as Hungary was destroyed by the Germans and Soviets. It has been a bestseller in Europe and the US, and it's easy to see why: there's a smidgen of Agatha Christie, a soupçon of Mills and Boon, topped off with graceful prose and a hint of Beckett avant la lettre.
The New York Times calls it lustrous. Publishers Weekly concludes, "Capturing the glamour of the fin de siècle era, as well as its bitter aftermath, Márai eloquently explores the tight and twisted bonds of friendship." Kirkus Reviews closes by calling it "A small, beautifully fashioned masterpiece."

There is a Reading Group Guide here.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Dead Birds

Dead Birds is a 2004 horror western, an underappreciated sub-genre. I like this one more than The Younger Son did. I'm keeping the DVD for re-watching while he's holding onto Bone Tomahawk.


DVD Talk concludes,
Dead Birds has it all -body count, blood, creeps, ghouls and ghosts, and a major chill factor. Well, it doesn't have dead birds -oh wait, there is ONE- which makes the title the only real issue. While the tension builds quite slowly, it's well worth the wait, because this one is haunting.
Dread Central says,
Dead Birds has atmosphere thick enough to cut with a knife. Something is very wrong in this plantation, and director Turner wants us to experience every claustrophobic moment of it. Solid acting, at times brilliant camera work, and superb sound design all contribute to make this a truly frightening winner.
Reel Film says, "the film does deserve kudos for the simple fact that it's a horror movie that's actually scary". Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 50%.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The Walking Tour

The Walking Tour is a 2000 novel by Kathryn Davis. This one took effort. I kept thinking I'd missed something, but going back through what I'd already read proved that wasn't the case. Not a typical novel in characters or structure, but an interesting read. Just don't expect it to be an easy one. There's a Reader's Guide here.

from the back of the book:
Two couples -businessman Bobby Rose and his artist wife, Carole Ridingham; his partner, Coleman Snow, and Snow's wife, Ruth Farr- have gone on a walking tour in Wales, during which a fatal accident occurs. The question of what happened preoccupies not only an ensuing negligence trial but also the narrator, Bobby and Carole's daughter, Susan, who lives alone in her parents' house near the coast of Maine. Assisted by court transcripts, a notebook computer containing Ruth Farr's journal, and a young vagrant who has taken to camping on her doorstep. Susan lays open the moral predicament at the heart of the book: we are culpable beings, even though we live in a world of imperfect knowledge.
I got a kick out of this quote: "Was David by chance a Methodist? Fairies hated Methodists even more than they hated rowan trees." There's reference to one of my favorite fairy tales, The Fisherman and His Wife; you can you can read that folk tale online here.

The New York Times concludes,
''The Walking Tour'' is brilliant and sometimes unbearable and leaves almost no room for readers to insert themselves into its text. Wherever you go on this trip, you feel that the author has been there before you and built a dolmen, which is exactly what postmodern types criticize modernists for -- as Davis knows, and lets you know she knows. She also, charmingly, lets you know that she doesn't give a damn.
Salon says,
The effect of the two intertwining narratives is an epistemological hide-and-seek in which the storytelling often conceals as much as it reveals. But it's well worth embracing the book's intricacies: Though Davis takes obvious pleasure in playing out her novel's dense setup, there is nothing rarefied about her precise and often epigrammatic prose.
The Boston Review concludes, ""Modern poetry," E. M. Forster once remarked, "is obscure and minatory." Much the same could be said of Davis’s intricate and bracingly poetic novel. ... Her new book is like a strange glittering weapon hanging in the void. It’s hard to know what to do with it, but it’s impossible to ignore." Publishers Weekly calls it "a witty blend of genres: mystery, courtroom drama, futuristic tale and a reworking of Welsh myth" and says, "The playfulness of Davis's writing is irresistible. Laced with fairy tales, neologisms and poems, her prose is clever, sometimes dazzling, skating lightly over complex ideas that otherwise might bog down the narrative."

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Hot Stone Pizza

It was hard to leave the Village Creek State Park cabin:

but snow and ice was predicted so we headed home a few hours early. On our way home we stopped for lunch in Wynne, Arkansas, at Hot Stone Pizza, Pasta, Salads, Subs and had pizza.

It hasn't been open long, but they're doing a great job! The interior is comfortable:

You walk along a counter and choose size, white or wheat crust, and toppings. I chose a 6" wheat crust with basil, sun-dried tomatoes and mushrooms:

Service was helpful, and the pizza was tasty. I'd be a near-weekly regular if I lived there.

On the highway on the way home we saw the most beautiful, fullest, brightest double rainbow we had ever seen. My poor cell phone didn't do it justice, but you can get an idea:

Please join the weekly T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering hosted by Bleubeard and Elizabeth. Share a drink and make some new friends.