Saturday, November 26, 2022

My Kinsman, Major Molineux

My Kinsman, Major Molineux is an 1831 short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne. You can read it online here or listen to it read to you at the bottom of this post. It begins,
After the kings of Great Britain had assumed the right of appointing the colonial governors, the measures of the latter seldom met with the ready and general approbation which had been paid to those of their predecessors, under the original charters. The people looked with most jealous scrutiny to the exercise of power, which did not emanate from themselves, and they usually rewarded the rulers with slender gratitude for the compliances, by which, in softening their instructions from beyond the sea, they had incurred the reprehension of those who gave them. The annals of Massachusetts Bay will inform us, that of six governors, in the space of about forty years from the surrender of the old charter, under James II, two were imprisoned by a popular insurrection; a third, as Hutchinson inclines to believe, was driven from the province by the whizzing of a musketball; a fourth, in the opinion of the same historian, was hastened to his grave by continual bickerings with the House of Representatives; and the remaining two, as well as their successors, till the Revolution, were favored with few and brief intervals of peaceful sway. The inferior members of the court party, in times of high political excitement, led scarcely a more desirable life. These remarks may serve as a preface to the following adventures, which chanced upon a summer night, not far from a hundred years ago. The reader, in order to avoid a long and dry detail of colonial affairs, is requested to dispense with an account of the train of circumstances, that had caused much temporary inflammation of the popular mind.

It was near nine o'clock of a moonlight evening, when a boat crossed the ferry with a single passenger, who had obtained his conveyance, at that unusual hour, by the promise of an extra fare.

Friday, November 25, 2022

I Sing the Mighty Power of God

As with politics I don't post much on religion, though I do have opinions I'd love to discuss anytime you feel like wading in... but I want to note that today is the anniversary of the death of Isaac Watts in 1748 at the age of 74. A prolific hymn writer, he is known as "the Godfather of English Hymnody". His works include When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, Joy to the World, and Oh God, Our Help in Ages Past.

I Sing the Mighty Power of God

1. I sing the almighty power of God,
that made the mountains rise,
that spread the flowing seas abroad,
and built the lofty skies.
I sing the wisdom that ordained
the sun to rule the day;
the moon shines full at God's command,
and all the stars obey.

2. I sing the goodness of the Lord,
who filled the earth with food,
who formed the creatures thru the Word,
and then pronounced them good.
Lord, how thy wonders are displayed,
where'er I turn my eye,
if I survey the ground I tread,
or gaze upon the sky.

3. There's not a plant or flower below,
but makes thy glories known,
and clouds arise, and tempests blow,
by order from thy throne;
while all that borrows life from thee
is ever in thy care;
and everywhere that we can be,
thou, God, art present there.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here's an interesting article covering some of the history of the cornucopia: From Zeus to Williams Sonoma: The History of the Cornucopia. I've had one as part of my Thanksgiving decorating since I was a child.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Enola Holmes 2

Enola Holmes 2 is a 2022 mystery film featuring the teenage sister of the already-famous Victorian-era detective Sherlock Holmes. Millie Bobby Brown, Henry Cavill, Helena Bonham Carter, and David Thewlis star. I liked the 1st one better, but it's often the case that the 2nd film in a series is a weaker effort. It was still enjoyable, and I look forward to the 3rd movie. I watched it on Netflix.


Roger Ebert's site has a positive review as does Vulture. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics consensus score of 93%.

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Monday, November 21, 2022

See How They Run

See How They Run is a 2022 Agatha Christie spoof comedy mystery film. I watched it on HBO Max. This isn't one of those masterpieces highly-praised by film critics that'll be vying for awards in 20 years, but I got such a big kick out of it. This is great fun.


Roger Ebert's web site opens a positive review with this:
Your enjoyment of “See How They Run” will depend on your appreciation for its two most prominent elements. The first is the genre of the classic British murder mystery and the names associated with those who created them and those who parodied and meta-commented on them. And the second is the genre of meta-commentary itself. There are air quotes and winks at the audience in almost every scene. I’m fine with both, so since the movie is exceptionally well cast and stylishly filmed, I thought it was a hoot.

Sunday, November 20, 2022

High and Low

High and Low is a 1963 Japanese film directed by Akira Kurosawa and starring Toshiro Mifune. I have a DVD, but you can watch it on HBO Max.


Deep Focus Review opens with this:
A work of structural and thematic brilliance, Akira Kurosawa’s High and Low... considers a social and class divide present in postwar Japan, engaging its subject through that most Western of subgenres: the kidnapping thriller. The separation of classes and polarity of wealth become the impetus of a mesmerizing and noirish procedural, which—through the course of a tense negotiation, breathless ransom payoff, and subsequent manhunt—equalizes the film’s two divergent central characters: a wealthy shoe company executive who lives atop a hill, and a lowly kidnapper who lives in the slums at the hill’s base. High and Low dissects its characters through a diptych construction, involving its audience in a wealth of human drama to contemplate Kurosawa’s most prevalent, lingering questions about humanity and the factors that prevent us from relating to one another.
Slant Magazine says, "High and Low dedicates itself to the art of the rigorous pursuit, both of truth, revenge, and redemption" and "Not only does High and Low successfully bridge competing vantage points and motivations, it establishes an evocative discourse on class by demystifying classic genre conventions." Criterion says, "Kurosawa moves effortlessly from compelling race-against-time thriller to exacting social commentary, creating a diabolical treatise on contemporary Japanese society."

Empire Online gives it a positive review and closes by noting the "outstanding performances and stunning cinematography" Rotten Tomatoes has a critics consensus score of 95%.

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Taxi Driver

Taxi Driver is an award-winning 1976 film directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Cybill Shepherd, Harvey Keitel, and Peter Boyle. I picked up a used DVD for cheap years ago but am just now getting around to watching it. It's considered one of the most culturally significant and inspirational film of its time. You can watch it at Paramount+ or with a free 7-day trial of Showtime.


The Guardian gives it 5 out of 5 stars. Spirituality and Practice says it's "A compelling and unsettling film exploring many of the fears, aches, and dislocations of contemporary urban life. " Roger Ebert gives it a full 4 stars and calls it a great movie and "a brilliant nightmare". Empire Online gives it 5 out of 5 stars and closes with this: "The blend of Schrader's script, Scorsese's direction and De Niro's performance is both riveting and unnerving. A film that will stay with you forever." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics consensus score of 96%.

Friday, November 18, 2022

A Clockwork Orange

A Clockwork Orange is a 1971 dystopian crime film directed by Stanley Kubrick based on the Anthony Burgess novel. Wikipedia says, "It employs disturbing, violent images to comment on psychiatry, juvenile delinquency, youth gangs, and other social, political, and economic subjects in a dystopian near-future Britain." To be honest, I've had this DVD for decades and kept putting it off because I had heard how disturbing it was. Maybe back when it was released... but now its ability to shock has diminished, at least for me. You can watch it on Netflix or HBO Max.


Roger Ebert opens by saying,
Stanley Kubrick's "A Clockwork Orange" is an ideological mess, a paranoid right-wing fantasy masquerading As an Orwellian warning. It pretends to oppose the police state and forced mind control, but all it really does is celebrate the nastiness of its hero, Alex.
Slant Magazine says
It’s Kubrick’s most prescient work, more astute and unsparing than any of his other films (and he had more where that came from) in putting the bleakest parts of human behavior under the microscope and laughing in disgust.
FilmSite has an article that includes a lengthy plot description. Empire Online calls it one of Kubrick's best. Rotten Tomatoes has an audience score of 93%.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

A Man Called Horse

A Man Called Horse is a 1970 western starring Richard Harris and Dame Judith Anderson. Iron Eyes Cody is also in this movie. It's readily available to watch free, including here on Tubi.

via Daily Motion:

Spirituality and Practice concludes a positive review with this: "This fascinating film deserves many viewings to fully absorb its many insights." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics consensus score of 86%.