Tuesday, September 17, 2019

A Little Journey

A Little Journey is a 1951 short story by Ray Bradbury. You can read it online here or here. It begins,
There were two important things—one, that she was very old; two, that Mr. Thirkell was taking her to God. For hadn't he patted her hand and said: "Mrs. Bellowes, we'll take off into space in my rocket, and go to find Him together."

And that was how it was going to be. Oh, this wasn't like any other group Mrs. Bellowes had ever joined. In her fervor to light a path for her delicate, tottering feet, she had struck matches down dark alleys, and found her way to Hindu mystics who floated their flickering, starry eyelashes over crystal balls. She had walked on the meadow paths with ascetic Indian philosophers imported by daughters-in-spirit of Madame Blavatsky. She had made pilgrimages to California's stucco jungles to hunt the astrological seer in his natural habitat. She had even consented to signing away the rights to one of her homes in order to be taken into the shouting order of a temple of amazing evangelists who had promised her golden smoke, crystal fire, and the great soft hand of God coming to bear her home.

None of these people had ever shaken Mrs. Bellowes' faith, even when she saw them sirened away in a black wagon in the night, or discovered their pictures, bleak and unromantic, in the morning tabloids. The world had roughed them up and locked them away because they knew too much, that was all.

And then, two weeks ago, she had seen Mr. Thirkell's advertisement in New York City:

COME TO MARS!

Stay at the Thirkell Restorium for one week. And then,
on into space on the greatest adventure life can offer!

Send for Free Pamphlet: "Nearer My God To Thee."

Excursion rates. Round trip slightly lower.

"Round trip," Mrs. Bellowes had thought. "But who would come back after seeing Him?"

And so she had bought a ticket and flown off to Mars and spent seven mild days at Mr. Thirkell's Restorium, the building with the sign on it which flashed: THIRKELL'S ROCKET TO HEAVEN! She had spent the week bathing in limpid waters and erasing the care from her tiny bones, and now she was fidgeting, ready to be loaded into Mr. Thirkell's own special private rocket, like a bullet, to be fired on out into space beyond Jupiter and Saturn and Pluto. And thus—who could deny it?—you would be getting nearer and nearer to the Lord. How wonderful! Couldn't you just feel Him drawing near? Couldn't you just sense His breath, His scrutiny, His Presence?

"Here I am," said Mrs. Bellowes, "an ancient rickety elevator, ready to go up the shaft. God need only press the button."

Now, on the seventh day, as she minced up the steps of the Restorium, a number of small doubts assailed her.

*******

I have begun playing with ATCs again but have nothing to share this week. I'll be drinking some French press coffee in an autumnal cup:


while I visit with the other T Stands for Tuesday bloggers.


Monday, September 16, 2019

Day of the Outlaw

Day of the Outlaw is a 1959 western about a feud between cattlemen and homesteaders. A traditional range war film. This one stars Robert Ryan, Burl Ives, Tina Louise, Alan Marshal, Elisha Cook Jr, Larry Teter, and Dabbs Greer. David Nelson is also in it.


The Telegraph calls it "a mesmerising Western that continually redefines what heroism might mean". TCM has an overview. Great Western Movies calls it "A stark and adult western with some noir flavor" and "This excellent western rises above the usual formulas".

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Summer Avenue Thrift 42


This is on the front of a boarded-up building on a street known for its thrift stores.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Fading Summer Patio

We're still having highs in the 90s, but the season is definitely turning to Autumn.



Here's what the locusts are sounding like this year:


The hummingbirds still come to the Honeysuckle, the Pentas, and the feeder:



but the flowers are fading.




The purple basil and the mint are looking scraggly:


We had some young cardinals adopt our feeder last month:


but they've grown so they look almost as fully-colored as the adults.

We haven't had as many butterflies this year, but we get the occasional grasshopper and katydid:


We enjoy spending time out on on the patio


except in the wintertime, but even then it's a nice view to look out on.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Space: 1999

Space: 1999 is a 1977-79 TV series starring Martin Landau and Barbara Bain. I watched this first-run, but it seems no one else did. I always looked forward to the next episode and was disappointed when it was cancelled. From Wikipedia:
The premise of Space: 1999 centres on the plight of the inhabitants of Moonbase Alpha, a scientific research centre on the Moon. Humanity had been storing its nuclear waste in vast disposal sites on the far side of the Moon, but when an unknown form of electromagnetic radiation is detected, the accumulated waste reaches critical mass and causes a massive thermonuclear explosion on 13 September 1999. The force of the blast propels the Moon like an enormous booster rocket, hurling it out of Earth orbit and into deep space at colossal speed, thus stranding the 311 personnel stationed on Alpha. The runaway Moon, in effect, becomes the "spacecraft" on which the protagonists travel, searching for a new home.
Season 1, episode 1:



The other episodes are randomly available. If you like this one, you'll like the rest.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Grass


Grass is a 1989 science fiction novel by Sheri Tepper. This is another re-read for me, my third time through if memory serves.

from the back of the book:
Here is a novel as original as the breathtaking, unspoiled world for which it is named, a place where all appears to be in idyllic balance.

Generations ago, humans fled to the cosmic anomaly known as Grass. Over time, they evolved a new and intricate society. But before humanity arrived another species had already claimed Grass for its own. It, too, had developed a culture....

Now, a deadly plague is spreading across the stars. No world save Grass has been left untouched. Marjorie Westriding Yrarier has been sent from Earth to discover the secret of the planet's immunity. Amid the alien social structure and strange life-forms of Grass, Lady Westriding unravels the planet's mysteries to find a truth so shattering it could mean the end of life itself.
Infinity Plus calls it "one of the most significant works of 1980s SF: a spacious, well-plotted, wise and thought-provoking book with an exceptionally cover scanwell-drawn central character and a beautiful twist on the 'beauty and the beast' mythos at its heart." SF Site says it's "Sheri Tepper's first fully-successful novel and perhaps still her best."

Kirkus Reviews says it's too long but "Imaginative and well worked out". Publishers Weekly says, "Tepper ... delves into the nature of truth and religion, creating some strong characters in her compelling story".

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Near Dark

Near Dark is a 1987 modern-day vampire western film. I saw it on television and was singularly unimpressed. I appear to be alone in that. Reviews are generally positive, even glowing.

trailer:



1000 Misspent Hours has a positive review. Empire Online calls it "a fascinatingly modern take". Horror News concludes, "If you are looking to build a top vampire movie list, then “Near Dark” should definitely have a spot secured as an important entry." Horror News Freak recommends it. Time Out calls it "a subtle study in the seductiveness of evil and a terrifying ride to the edge of darkness." Rotten Tomatoes has an average critics rating of 88%.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

The Idiot's Guide to Smarter Coffee Drinking in 7 Steps

A Guide To Smarter Coffee Drinking Infographic
Image via: AHealthBlog

and they completely lose me at step #1, because I drink a cup or two before 10:00 AM and like it better then than any time of the day. Ah, well, health advice seems more a matter of passing fad than of fact-based science.

I still haven't gotten back into creating ATCs. It's like that one week of vacation away put a screeching halt to the art fun. I have all my bits of papers and supplies out, and I'm committed to making a few this week. In the meantime I'll enjoy the artistic endeavors of the T Stands for Tuesday bloggers. Join us as we share a drink.

Monday, September 09, 2019

A Chinese Ghost Story: The Tsui Hark Animation

A Chinese Ghost Story: The Tsui Hark Animation is an award-winning 1997 Hong Kong animated film. Wikipedia begins its plot summary with this:
Tax collector Ning wanders the land with his pet dog Solid Gold grieving over his lost love Siu Lan, who dumps him over another man. He goes on, and along the way, he runs into two monks, White Cloud and Ten Miles. The two Buddhist monks, who appear to be trying to purify unholy spirits and send them to the underworld, are on rivalry with another ghostbuster, Red Beard. After a meeting and a hasty farewell to the monks who leave, Ning continues his journey.

Somehow, at night, Ning enters a ghost town, inhabited by many different monsters, ghouls and spirits.

T.H.E.M. Anime Reviews calls it "an incredibly strange, breathless, nonstop action fantasy, which leaves you gasping for air". Love HK Film calls it "irresistibly charming" and "visually exciting".

Variety says,
Result is infused with many of Tsui’s own filmic trademarks, some touches of typically Cantonese humor and a childlike, naive style that Japanese anime simply don’t possess. In dubbed versions, this could prove a strong seller as a children’s item for the small screen.
BBC has a review. The Rotten Tomatoes audience has a consensus score of 86%.

Sunday, September 08, 2019

The World That Couldn't Be

illustration by Jack Gaughan

The World That Couldn't Be is a 1958 science fiction short story by Science Fiction Writers of America Grand Master Clifford D. Simak. I discovered this author in junior high school, and he is always worth re-visiting. His stories are thought-provoking. You can read this one online here. It begins,
The tracks went up one row and down another, and in those rows the vua plants had been sheared off an inch or two above the ground. The raider had been methodical; it had not wandered about haphazardly, but had done an efficient job of harvesting the first ten rows on the west side of the field. Then, having eaten its fill, it had angled off into the bush—and that had not been long ago, for the soil still trickled down into the great pug marks, sunk deep into the finely cultivated loam.

Somewhere a sawmill bird was whirring through a log, and down in one of the thorn-choked ravines, a choir of chatterers was clicking through a ghastly morning song. It was going to be a scorcher of a day. Already the smell of desiccated dust was rising from the ground and the glare of the newly risen sun was dancing off the bright leaves of the hula-trees, making it appear as if the bush were filled with a million flashing mirrors.

Gavin Duncan hauled a red bandanna from his pocket and mopped his face.

"No, mister," pleaded Zikkara, the native foreman of the farm. "You cannot do it, mister. You do not hunt a Cytha."

"The hell I don't," said Duncan, but he spoke in English and not the native tongue.

He stared out across the bush, a flat expanse of sun-cured grass interspersed with thickets of hula-scrub and thorn and occasional groves of trees, criss-crossed by treacherous ravines and spotted with infrequent waterholes.

It would be murderous out there, he told himself, but it shouldn't take too long. The beast probably would lay up shortly after its pre-dawn feeding and he'd overhaul it in an hour or two. But if he failed to overhaul it, then he must keep on.

"Dangerous," Zikkara pointed out. "No one hunts the Cytha."

"I do," Duncan said, speaking now in the native language.