Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Madam White Snake

Madam White Snake is a 1960 South Korean film based on the Chinese legend. I like old folk tales and legends and enjoy seeing them adapted for film.

I offer this particular scene as my connection to the weekly T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering:



Monday, June 01, 2020

Two Kinds

Two Kinds is a 1989 short story by Amy Tan, part of the book The Joy Luck Club. You can have it read to you at the bottom of this post. You can read it online here. It begins,
My mother believed you could be anything you wanted to be in America. You could open a restaurant. You could work for the government and get good retirement. You could buy a house with almost no money down. You could become rich. You could become instantly famous.

"Of course, you can be a prodigy, too," my mother told me when I was nine. "You can be best anything. What does Auntie Lindo know? Her daughter, she is only best tricky."

America was where all my mother's hopes lay. She had come to San Francisco in 1949 after losing everything in China: her mother and father, her home, her first husband, and two daughters, twin baby girls. But she never looked back with regret. Things could get better in so many ways.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Agatha Christie's The Crooked House

Agatha Christie's Crooked House is a TV film adaptation of the book. I can't remember where I saw this (Netflix? Amazon Prime?), and I don't see it available anywhere now, but it's worth seeking out. It stars Max Irons, Terence Stamp, Glenn Close, and Gillian Anderson.


Friday, May 29, 2020

The Inheritance of Loss

The Inheritance of Loss is a 2006 novel by Kiran Desai. It won multiple awards, and I read it because it won the Booker Prize.

from the back of the book:
In a crumbling, isolated house at the foot of Mount Kanchenjuuga in the Himalayas lives an embittered judge who wants only to retire in peace, when his orphaned granddaughter, Sai, arrives on his doorstep. The judge's cook watches over her distractedly, for his thoughts are often on his son, Biju, who is hopscotching from one gritty New York restaurant to another. Kiran Desai's brilliant novel, published to huge acclaim, is a story of joy and despair. Her characters face numerous choices that majestically illuminate the consequences of colonialism as it collides with the modern world.
The Guardian calls it "bleak but compelling". NPR has a positive review. The Independent concludes, "Desai's bold, original voice, and her ability to deal in grand narratives with a deft comic touch that affectionately recalls some of the masters of Indian fiction, make hers a novel to be reread and remembered."

Publishers Weekly says, "In this alternately comical and contemplative novel, Desai deftly shuttles between first and third worlds, illuminating the pain of exile, the ambiguities of post-colonialism and the blinding desire for a "better life..." Kirkus Reviews closes with this: "Less a compelling narrative than a rich stew of ironies and contradictions. Desai’s eye for the ridiculous is as keen as ever."

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Tarzan Triumphs

Image from Wikipedia

Tarzan Triumphs is a 1943 Johnny Weissmuller film in which Tarzan fights Nazis. You can watch it here, but honestly unless you're a completist I don't know why you would.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

The Sycamore and the Sybil

The Sycamore and the Sybil is a short story by Alix E. Harrow. I came across it on Twitter. You can read it online here. It begins,
Before I was a sycamore I was a woman, and before I was a woman I was a girl, and before I was a girl I was a wet seed wild in the hot-pulp belly of my mother. I remember it: a pulsing blackness, veins unfurling in the dark like roots spreading through the hidden places of the earth. You remember things different, once you’re a tree.

Of course that’s about all trees can do: stand there and remember. We can’t run or spit or sing; we can’t fuck or dance or get good and drunk on a full moon; we can’t hold our mother’s hands or stroke the cheek of a fevered child. We’re towers without any doors or windows; we are prisons and prisoners both, impregnable and alone.

But they can’t hurt us any-damn-more, at least not without working up a sweat, and that’s not nothing.

(If you’re wondering why a woman would trade her limbs and her beating heart for a little slice of safety, well—maybe you’re young. Maybe the world has changed. Maybe you’re dumb as a moss-eaten stump.)

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Tea in the Garden

Tea in the Garden:

by Beryl Cook, who died on May 28, 2008, at the age of 81. She had no formal training. Isn't this piece delightful? Now I'm not suggesting we enjoy our T Stands for Tuesday gathering in the nude -although who would know, I ask you- but that we wear hats. Yes, hats.



Monday, May 25, 2020

Wicked Woman

Wicked Woman is a 1953 film noir. Percy Helton and Richard Egan are the actors most familiar to me. I kept getting interrupted by real life while I was watching this and still haven't finished it.

Noir of the Week calls it a "tawdry but sobering slice of femme fatale film noir".

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Hands of a Gunfighter

Hands of a Gunfighter is a 1965 spaghetti western. There are two separate plots in this one, connected only by the main character. In one, the former gunfighter, who has settled down with a family, has his infant son killed in his arms by a sheriff who is attempting to execute a warrant for his arrest. The other plot centers around the former gunfighter's desire for revenge against four brothers who kill a friend of his. It's unusual to have two such disconnected plots. It was almost like watching two different movies at the same time.


full film:

Reviews are scarce.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

The Paper Menagerie

Image from the Flickr Stéphane Gérard account

The Paper Menagerie is a short story in the collection The Paper Menagerie and other stories by Ken Liu. Simon & Schuster says of the collection:
With his debut novel, The Grace of Kings, taking the literary world by storm, Ken Liu now shares his finest short fiction in The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories. This mesmerizing collection features many of Ken’s award-winning and award-finalist stories, including: “The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary” (Finalist for the Hugo, Nebula, and Theodore Sturgeon Awards), “Mono No Aware” (Hugo Award winner), “The Waves” (Nebula Award finalist), “The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species” (Nebula and Sturgeon Award finalists), “All the Flavors” (Nebula Award finalist), “The Litigation Master and the Monkey King” (Nebula Award finalist), and the most awarded story in the genre’s history, “The Paper Menagerie” (The only story to win the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards).

Insightful and stunning stories that plumb the struggle against history and betrayal of relationships in pivotal moments, this collection showcases one of our greatest and original voices.
You can read this first story online here or here. It begins,
One of my earliest memories starts with me sobbing. I refused to be soothed no matter what Mom and Dad tried.

Dad gave up and left the bedroom, but Mom took me into the kitchen and sat me down at the breakfast table.

“Kan, kan,” she said, as she pulled a sheet of wrapping paper from on top of the fridge. For years, Mom carefully sliced open the wrappings around Christmas gifts and saved them on top of the fridge in a thick stack.

She set the paper down, plain side facing up, and began to fold it. I stopped crying and watched her, curious.

She turned the paper over and folded it again. She pleated, packed, tucked, rolled, and twisted until the paper disappeared between her cupped hands. Then she lifted the folded-up paper packet to her mouth and blew into it, like a balloon.

“Kan,” she said. “Laohu.” She put her hands down on the table and let go.

A little paper tiger stood on the table, the size of two fists placed together. The skin of the tiger was the pattern on the wrapping paper, white background with red candy canes and green Christmas trees.

I reached out to Mom’s creation. Its tail twitched, and it pounced playfully at my finger. “Rawrr-sa,” it growled, the sound somewhere between a cat and rustling newspapers.