Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Child and Cats and Sybil

Child and Cats:


is a painting by Pierre Bonnard, who died on January 23, 1947, at age 79.

What a pretty silver cup the little girl has! I'm joining the weekly T Stands for Tuesday gathering where we share a post with a drink reference in it.

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I'm participating in a reading challenge where the January book was to be historical fiction. (Patio Postcards talks about her choice of historical fiction here.) I chose Sybil, an 1845 novel by Benjamin Disraeli. It's wordy, but that was the style at the time if my reading experience is anything to go by. You can read it online here. It begins,
BOOK I

Book 1 Chapter 1

“I’ll take the odds against Caravan.”

“In poneys?”

“Done.”

And Lord Milford, a young noble, entered in his book the bet which he had just made with Mr Latour, a grey headed member of the Jockey Club.

It was the eve of the Derby of 1837. In a vast and golden saloon, that in its decorations would have become, and in its splendour would not have disgraced, Versailles in the days of the grand monarch, were assembled many whose hearts beat at the thought of the morrow, and whose brains still laboured to control its fortunes to their advantage.

“They say that Caravan looks puffy,” lisped in a low voice a young man, lounging on the edge of a buhl table that had once belonged to a Mortemart, and dangling a rich cane with affected indifference in order to conceal his anxiety from all, except the person whom he addressed.

“They are taking seven to two against him freely over the way,” was the reply. “I believe it’s all right.”

“Do you know I dreamed last night something about Mango,” continued the gentleman with the cane, and with a look of uneasy superstition.

His companion shook his head.

“Well,” continued the gentleman with the cane, “I have no opinion of him. I gave Charles Egremont the odds against Mango this morning; he goes with us, you know. By the bye, who is our fourth?”

“I thought of Milford,” was the reply in an under tone. “What say you?”

“Milford is going with St James and Punch Hughes.”

“Well, let us come into supper, and we shall see some fellow we like.”

So saying, the companions, taking their course through more than one chamber, entered an apartment of less dimensions than the principal saloon, but not less sumptuous in its general appearance. The gleaming lustres poured a flood of soft yet brilliant light over a plateau glittering with gold plate, and fragrant with exotics embedded in vases of rare porcelain. The seats on each side of the table were occupied by persons consuming, with a heedless air, delicacies for which they had no appetite; while the conversation in general consisted of flying phrases referring to the impending event of the great day that had already dawned.

“Come from Lady St Julian’s, Fitz?” said a youth of very tender years, and whose fair visage was as downy and as blooming as the peach from which with a languid air he withdrew his lips to make this inquiry of the gentleman with the cane.

“Yes; why were not you there?”

“I never go anywhere,” replied the melancholy Cupid, “everything bores me so.”

“Well, will you go to Epsom with us to-morrow, Alfred?” said Lord Fitzheron. “I take Berners and Charles Egremont, and with you our party will be perfect.”

“I feel so cursed blase!” exclaimed the boy in a tone of elegant anguish.

“It will give you a fillip, Alfred,” said Mr Berners; “do you all the good in the world.”

“Nothing can do me good,” said Alfred, throwing away his almost untasted peach, “I should be quite content if anything could do me harm. Waiter, bring me a tumbler of Badminton.”

“And bring me one too,” sighed out Lord Eugene De Vere, who was a year older than Alfred Mountchesney, his companion and brother in listlessness. Both had exhausted life in their teens, and all that remained for them was to mourn, amid the ruins of their reminiscences, over the extinction of excitement.

“Well, Eugene, suppose you come with us.” said Lord Fitzheron.

“I think I shall go down to Hampton Court and play tennis,” said Lord Eugene. “As it is the Derby, nobody will be there.”

“And I will go with you, Eugene,” said Alfred Mountchesney, “and we will dine together afterwards at the Toy. Anything is better than dining in this infernal London.”

“Well, for my part,” said Mr Berners. “I do not like your suburban dinners. You always get something you can’t eat, and cursed bad wine.”

“I rather like bad wine,” said Mr Mountchesney; “one gets so bored with good wine.”

“Do you want the odds against Hybiscus, Berners?” said a guardsman looking up from his book, which he had been very intently studying.

“All I want is some supper, and as you are not using your place—”

“You shall have it. Oh! here’s Milford, he will give them me.”

And at this moment entered the room the young nobleman whom we have before mentioned, accompanied by an individual who was approaching perhaps the termination of his fifth lustre but whose general air rather betokened even a less experienced time of life. Tall, with a well-proportioned figure and a graceful carriage, his countenance touched with a sensibility that at once engages the affections. Charles Egremont was not only admired by that sex, whose approval generally secures men enemies among their fellows, but was at the same time the favourite of his own.

“Ah, Egremont! come and sit here,” exclaimed more than one banqueter.

“I saw you waltzing with the little Bertie, old fellow,” said Lord Fitzheron, “and therefore did not stay to speak to you, as I thought we should meet here. I am to call for you, mind.”

“How shall we all feel this time to-morrow?” said Egremont, smiling.

“The happiest fellow at this moment must be Cockie Graves,” said Lord Milford. “He can have no suspense. I have been looking over his book, and I defy him, whatever happens, not to lose.”

“Poor Cockie.” said Mr Berners; “he has asked me to dine with him at the Clarendon on Saturday.”

“Cockie is a very good Cockie,” said Lord Milford, “and Caravan is a very good horse; and if any gentleman sportsman present wishes to give seven to two, I will take him to any amount.”

“My book is made up,” said Egremont; “and I stand or fall by Caravan.”

“And I.”

“And I.”

“And I.”

“Well, mark my words,” said a fourth, rather solemnly, “Rat-trap wins.”

“There is not a horse except Caravan,” said Lord Milford, “fit for a borough stake.”

“You used to be all for Phosphorus, Egremont,” said Lord Eugene de Vere.

“Yes; but fortunately I have got out of that scrape. I owe Phip Dormer a good turn for that. I was the third man who knew he had gone lame.”

“And what are the odds against him now.”

“Oh! nominal; forty to one,—what you please.”

“He won’t run,” said Mr Berners, “John Day told me he had refused to ride him.”

“I believe Cockie Graves might win something if Phosphorus came in first,” said Lord Milford, laughing.

“How close it is to-night!” said Egremont. “Waiter, give me some Seltzer water; and open another window; open them all.”

At this moment an influx of guests intimated that the assembly at Lady St Julian’s was broken up. Many at the table rose and yielded their places, clustering round the chimney-piece, or forming in various groups, and discussing the great question. Several of those who had recently entered were votaries of Rat-trap, the favourite, and quite prepared, from all the information that had reached them, to back their opinions valiantly. The conversation had now become general and animated, or rather there was a medley of voices in which little was distinguished except the names of horses and the amount of odds. In the midst of all this, waiters glided about handing incomprehensible mixtures bearing aristocratic names; mystical combinations of French wines and German waters, flavoured with slices of Portugal fruits, and cooled with lumps of American ice, compositions which immortalized the creative genius of some high patrician name.

“By Jove! that’s a flash,” exclaimed Lord Milford, as a blaze of lightning seemed to suffuse the chamber, and the beaming lustres turned white and ghastly in the glare.

The thunder rolled over the building. There was a dead silence. Was it going to rain? Was it going to pour? Was the storm confined to the metropolis? Would it reach Epsom? A deluge, and the course would be a quagmire, and strength might baffle speed.

Another flash, another explosion, the hissing noise of rain. Lord Milford moved aside, and jealous of the eye of another, read a letter from Chifney, and in a few minutes afterwards offered to take the odds against Pocket Hercules. Mr Latour walked to the window, surveyed the heavens, sighed that there was not time to send his tiger from the door to Epsom, and get information whether the storm had reached the Surrey hills, for to-night’s operations. It was too late. So he took a rusk and a glass of lemonade, and retired to rest with a cool head and a cooler heart.

The storm raged, the incessant flash played as it were round the burnished cornice of the chamber, and threw a lurid hue on the scenes of Watteau and Boucher that sparkled in the medallions over the lofty doors. The thunderbolts seemed to descend in clattering confusion upon the roof. Sometimes there was a moment of dead silence, broken only by the pattering of the rain in the street without, or the pattering of the dice in a chamber at hand. Then horses were backed, bets made, and there were loud and frequent calls for brimming goblets from hurrying waiters, distracted by the lightning and deafened by the peal. It seemed a scene and a supper where the marble guest of Juan might have been expected, and had he arrived, he would have found probably hearts as bold and spirits as reckless as he encountered in Andalusia.
You can have it read to you in a Librivox recording.

Part 1:



Part 2:



There are plenty of other public domain historical fiction books available free online, and Project Gutenberg has a list divided by time period here at this link.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Johnny Guitar

Johnny Guitar is a 1954 Western film directed by Nicholas Ray and starring Joan Crawford, Sterling Hayden, Mercedes McCambridge, Scott Brady, Ward Bond, Ben Cooper, Ernest Borgnine, John Carradine, Royal Dano, Paul Fix, Rhys Williams, Frank Ferguson, and Ian MacDonald It shares a name with the song by Peggy Lee and features music from the song. This isn't your typical western and has obsessed women as main characters. It shows up on several best-of lists and is worth seeing even if you're not a fan of Joan Crawford. We saw it on Amazon Prime. It can be rented on Youtube for $2.99.

trailer:



Slant Magazine gives it 4 out of 4 stars and says, "It’s a film that’s many things to many people, from camp spectacular to revisionist genre epic, and nearly every reading seems viable. Was it Nicholas Ray’s intention to subvert every expectation, to undermine the conventions of the most American of genres? "

The Guardian calls it an "unforgettably strange, brilliant western". IndieWire concludes, "Ray made a completely over the top film that evokes the gender inequality, witch hunt sensibility and civic timidity within the mid-50’s culture that produced it more memorably than any other western movie of its era." The New Yorker calls it "miraculous" and says, "Nicholas Ray is Hollywood’s most emotionally furious, extreme, and sensitive director, and, in a career of eliciting uniquely impassioned performances, those he coaxes from Joan Crawford and Sterling Hayden are two of the greatest he ever got—therefore, two of the best ever recorded on film."

Roger Ebert counts it as a "Great Movie" and says it
is surely one of the most blatant psychosexual melodramas ever to disguise itself in that most commodious of genres, the Western. ... A cheap Western from Republic Pictures, yes. And also one of the boldest and most stylized films of its time, quirky, political, twisted. ... The dynamic of their investigation and their attempts to force townsfolk to testify against one another form an allegory squarely aimed at the House Un-American Activities Committee, which in 1954 was trying to force alleged communists to "name names" of other alleged communists
Time Out gives it 5 out of 5 stars, calling it a "heady, Freudian western masterpiece" and "a rip-snorting yarn". 95% of Rotten Tomatoes critics gave it positive reviews.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Saturday, January 18, 2020

I Spit on Your Grave (1978)

I Spit on Your Grave is a graphic rape revenge film from 1978. You've been warned. I didn't finish this one. A quick search will find it online, but you're on your own for that.

trailer:



Classic-Horror.com says it's "a deeply disturbing film, but is not worth the time nor the effort of tracking down on DVD. It will not leave viewers satisfied with seeing a highly controversial film but will instead leave them perturbed at how moronic it is."

Roger Ebert describes it as "A vile bag of garbage," "sick, reprehensible and contemptible," and "an expression of the most diseased and perverted darker human natures," and says that after the movie he "walked out of the theater quickly, feeling unclean, ashamed and depressed."

HorrorNews.net says "if you can make it past the first half (it is brutal and only gets worse)" which includes several graphic and violent rape scenes, then we should like the revenge that follows. I can only assume that reviewer is male.

DVD Talk says, "Look, you will probably be wholly and completely repulsed by I Spit on Your Grave. This is one of the most polarizing exploitation films I've ever stumbled across". Oh the Horror calls it "Quite possibly the most notorious title in exploitation horror history". Rotten Tomatoes has a surprisingly depressing number of positive reviews. People like it.

Friday, January 17, 2020

The Jar

Screen Shot from Alfred Hitchcock Presents

The Jar is a 1944 short story by Ray Bradbury. It was adapted for television in 1964 as an episode of  Alfred Hitchcock Presents. You can read it online here. It begins,
It was one of .those things they keep in a jar in the tent of a sideshow on the outskirts of a little, drowsy town. One of those pale things drifting in alcohol plasma, forever dreaming and circling, with its peeled dead eyes staring out at you -and never seeing you. It went with the noiselessness of late night, and only the crickets chirping, the frogs sobbing off in the moist swampland. One of those things in a big jar that makes your stomach jump like it does when you see an amputated arm in a laboratory vat.

Charlie stared back at it for a long time
Bradbury was always one of my favorite authors, and I've kept a few of his books even as I purge my shelves.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Andromeda

Andromeda was a 2000-2005 science fiction television series based on unused material left by Gene Roddenbury. I'd never watched this but decided to check it out as I could find it online. So far it's dated, maybe too dated to be enjoyed for me. from Wikipedia:
The long night has come. The Systems Commonwealth, the greatest civilization in history, has fallen. But now, one ship, one crew have vowed to drive back the night and rekindle the light of civilization. On the starship Andromeda, hope lives again.
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The series is set thousands of years in the future, and revolves around the Systems Commonwealth, a republic based in a distant star system called Tarn-Vedra. Humankind is a part of The Commonwealth, having been discovered by its members thousands of years before. The Commonwealth spreads across three galaxies: the Milky Way, Triangulum, and Andromeda, with Tarn-Vedra near its core. Ships travel from one end of the Commonwealth to the other through slipstreams, following roller coaster-like pathways through the cosmos to and from their destination.

The Commonwealth claims to be a utopian society, but it is actually in a state of war with the Magog, a predatory humanoid species with bat-like faces that is dedicated to war.


Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Central 42


Thinking back to warmer days, I remember eating BBQ out on the deck at Central BBQ. I saw the 42 right next to our table overlooking the Tiger and Central Avenue. I ate a BBQ sandwich and onion rings.


Here's a video that shows the energy at this place. Watch them plate up some of that great food:


Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Rachel In Love

Rachel In Love is a science fiction short story by Pat Murphy. This is a fascinating story. You can read it online here. It begins,
It is a Sunday morning in summer and a small brown chimpanzee named Rachel sits on the living room floor of a remote ranch house on the edge of the Painted Desert. She is watching a Tarzan movie on television. Her hairy arms are wrapped around her knees and she rocks back and forth with suppressed excitement. She knows that her father would say that she's too old for such childish amusements — but since Aaron is still sleeping, he can't chastise her.

On the television, Tarzan has been trapped in a bamboo cage by a band of wicked Pygmies. Rachel is afraid that he won't escape in time to save Jane from the ivory smugglers who hold her captive. The movie cuts to Jane, who is tied up in the back of a jeep, and Rachel whimpers softly to herself. She knows better than to howl: she peeked into her father's bedroom earlier, and he was still in bed. Aaron doesn't like her to howl when he is sleeping.

When the movie breaks for a commercial, Rachel goes to her father's room. She is ready for breakfast and she wants him to get up. She tiptoes to the bed to see if he is awake.

His eyes are open and he is staring at nothing. His face is pale and his lips are a purplish color. Dr. Aaron Jacobs, the man Rachel calls father, is not asleep. He is dead, having died in the night of a heart attack.
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I'm having some espresso:


That adorable cup came from Tuesday Morning. I'll be taking coffee with me as I visit the T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Vengeance

Vengeance is a spaghetti western directed by Antonio Margheriti and starring Richard Harrison as a man set on revenge for the killing of his friend and the theft of their gold. Great cast, great soundtrack. If you like spaghetti westerns you'll like this. You can watch it here at TubiTV or via Youtube:



Spaghetti-Western.net's review here has a thorough plot description and another positive review here.



Sunday, January 12, 2020

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp is a 1943 Powell and Pressburger comedy film. It stars Roger Livesey and Deborah Kerr.

trailer:


It's on Roger Ebert's list of Great Movies. BFI says, "Powell & Pressburger’s 74-year-old classic hasn’t aged a day". The Guardian gives it 5 out of 5 stars and says, "This glorious film gets more fascinating and moving each time its seen".

Rotten Tomatoes has a critics consensus rating of 96%.