Thursday, November 30, 2006

Scrooge Ballet

I remember the first time I saw this. It was on TV, and we recorded it on VHS tape, but we never saw it aired on television again. As the tape began to show its age we started looking for it on DVD. After years of searching we finally found it, and The Husband bought it for me for Christmas last year. The Northern Ballet Theatre's A Christmas Carol tells the complete tale without words -well, almost without words, Marley's Ghost has a soliloquy and there are some songs. One of the songs is Four Pence A Day. The dancers are so expressive you don't need words to know the story.

Wassail, wassail

We trimmed our tree today, though it was a bit early for us, and we had our traditional wassail. We do this the easy way: Warm apple cider on the stove with whole cloves and cinnamon sticks and float lemon and orange slices in it. Yummy!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Chatham School Affair, by Thomas H. Cook

The Chatham School Affair, by Thomas H. Cook, is an Edgar Award-winning mystery novel. It is a more literary book than some other mysteries I've read. It gives you the story as a series of remembrances, weaving the tale from painful long-past memories until the picture is crystal clear. By the time the end was getting near I saw where it was going, but I couldn't put this book down.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

We're No Angels

What a fun movie! Humphrey Bogart is a delight and Peter Ustinov and Aldo Ray are perfect to make up the rest of the "angelic" band. We're No Angels also stars Joan Bennett, Basil Rathbone and Leo G. Carroll. Our whole family gets a big kick out of this one, laughing our way through it each time we see it. It's one of our favorites.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Mayor of Casterbridge, by Thomas Hardy

I had never read this tragic story by Thomas Hardy before but read it for the BritishClassics online reading group at yahoogroups. The full name of the novel is The Life and Death of The Mayor of Casterbridge: A Story of a Man of Character. Wikipedia has a page on the book, which includes some background information and links to study guides. The book itself is in the public domain and is readily available online at,,, the University of Adelaide Library and numerous other sources. VictorianWeb's coverage of Hardy, his life and works is comprehensive. The Thomas Hardy Resource Library has links to texts online, a timeline of his life and much other information.

I've read that Hardy was a poet first and foremost and only wrote novels as finances demanded, and this book is permeated with poetic imagery. I enjoyed the reading and look forward to the book discussion.

White Boy at the Apollo

with trombone.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Hillary Clinton is a Methodist, too,

but I couldn't find a video like I did for my post on Tom Waits last Sunday. She spoke at the 1996 General Conference. The text of her address is available online here. These were her closing words:

I am grateful for my Methodist upbringing. I am grateful for this church. I watch with great interest and appreciation those of you who struggle to make the decisions that will govern us for the next four years. And I appreciate that you are grasping with the hard issues; being willing to debate and discuss what needs to be done. And I would hope that many of us, not only members of this church, but all people of faith, would say we have so much in common that we can do, and summon our energy on behalf, first and foremost, of our children. If we were to do that, I know we would see changes before our very eyes. And that the church you serve and that has served us, would continue to grow because it was serving the world, living out the gospel, and being a servant for those who need to hear that message.

With that in mind, I thank you for keeping alive the Methodist traditions and teachings; for helping to awaken and strengthen the spirit and faith of men, women, and children; and for helping all of us to have courage in the face of change, to be willing to struggle forward doing what we can individually, and to make common cause with others who believe that we are called, both for personal salvation, but also for the work we must do in this world. Thank you very, very much.

The Feast of Christ the King

Psalm 132 (NRSV)

1 O Lord, remember in David’s favor all the hardships he endured;
2 how he swore to the Lord and vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob,
3 “I will not enter my house or get into my bed;
4 I will not give sleep to my eyes or slumber to my eyelids,
5 until I find a place for the Lord, a dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob.”
6 We heard of it in Ephrathah; we found it in the fields of Jaar.
7 “Let us go to his dwelling place; let us worship at his footstool.”
8 Rise up, O Lord, and go to your resting place, you and the ark of your might.
9 Let your priests be clothed with righteousness, and let your faithful shout for joy.
10 For your servant David’s sake do not turn away the face of your anointed one.
11 The Lord swore to David a sure oath from which he will not turn back: “One of the sons of your body I will set on your throne.
12 If your sons keep my covenant and my decrees that I shall teach them, their sons also, forevermore, shall sit on your throne.”
13 For the Lord has chosen Zion; he has desired it for his habitation:
14 “This is my resting place forever; here I will reside, for I have desired it.
15 I will abundantly bless its provisions; I will satisfy its poor with bread.
16 Its priests I will clothe with salvation, and its faithful will shout for joy.
17 There I will cause a horn to sprout up for David; I have prepared a lamp for my anointed one.
18 His enemies I will clothe with disgrace, but on him, his crown will gleam.”

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Chindi, by Jack McDevitt

I finished Chindi this afternoon. I've read and enjoyed a couple of other books by Jack McDevitt: The Engines of God and Infinity Beach. In this one I liked the exploration of alien cultures and artifacts, but I got tired of wondering who would die next as they kept insisting on dangerous activities in spite of the rising death toll. An SF Site review is here. A SciFiDimensions review is here. A review is also here at SFReviews.

Beyond Belief: Science, Religion, Reason and Survival

I am currently watching a series of videos online from a conference on science and religion from The Science Network. I just finished the first video. It is an introductory session with several different lectures taking different approaches to the problem. The "About" page at the site describes the issue this way:

Just 40 years after a famous TIME magazine cover asked "Is God Dead?" the answer appears to be a resounding "No!" According to a survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life in a recent issue of Foreign Policy magazine, "God is Winning". Religions are increasingly a geopolitical force to be reckoned with. Fundamentalist movements - some violent in the extreme - are growing. Science and religion are at odds in the classrooms and courtrooms. And a return to religious values is widely touted as an antidote to the alleged decline in public morality. After two centuries, could this be twilight for the Enlightenment project and the beginning of a new age of unreason? Will faith and dogma trump rational inquiry, or will it be possible to reconcile religious and scientific worldviews? Can evolutionary biology, anthropology and neuroscience help us to better understand how we construct beliefs, and experience empathy, fear and awe? Can science help us create a new rational narrative as poetic and powerful as those that have traditionally sustained societies? Can we treat religion as a natural phenomenon? Can we be good without God? And if not God, then what?

This is a critical moment in the human situation, and The Science Network in association with the Crick-Jacobs Center brought together an extraordinary group of scientists and philosophers to explore answers to these questions. The conversation took place at the Salk Institute, La Jolla, CA from November 5-7, 2006.

Friday, November 24, 2006


Another fairy tale, Shrek includes characters from almost every nursery tale I can think of and turns "Happily Ever After" on its ear. This movie is such great fun!


Moria says
Shrek is one film where everything works near perfectly in terms of humour, characters, visual invention, artistic quality and plain all-out enjoyment.

Roger Ebert says
This is not your average family cartoon. "Shrek" is jolly and wicked, filled with sly in-jokes and yet somehow possessing a heart.

Hollywood Jesus has reviews with lots of still shots. The New York Times reviews it here.

This was The Husband's choice tonight for entertainment while making pizza.


Forgive me. This movie stars Tom Cruise, but Legend is a fun movie anyway. Tim Curry (I'll watch almost anything with Tim Curry in it) plays The Lord of Darkness. This is a fairy tale, containing elements from lots of different stories and movies. We all got a kick out of it.


cartoon from

Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.

My feeder of choice: SharpReader.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

I saw this movie in the theater when it came out in 1968. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang stars Dick Van Dyke, Lionel Jeffries and Benny Hill.

Save the Internet

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Caine Mutiny

The boys had never seen The Caine Mutiny before, and it's a movie everybody should see. I remember the first time I saw it -watching the courtroom scene was actually painful to me. Humphrey Bogart's performance in this movie is, in my opinion, one of his best. Also in the movie are Van Johnson, Fred MacMurray, Jose Ferrer and Lee Marvin. The ensemble works well together, and Bogie shines in this role as a character so unlike the ones he usually played.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Psalm 126 (NRSV)

1 When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.
2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then it was said among the nations, "The LORD has done great things for them."
3 The LORD has done great things for us, and we rejoiced.
4 Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like the watercourses in the Negeb.
5 May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy.
6 Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves

The picture is an e-card from Dover Publications.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Kennedy Assassination Anniversary

tribute video from youtube:

Just walked 2 miles

I have trouble getting used to and dealing with the cold. Today we stopped after 2 miles. It's so cold to me even just at 31 degrees, and my face hurts and I shiver the whole time I walk. I'm dressed in warm layers, so I guess I'm just a wimp.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

#2 Son and I watched The Murder of Roger Ackroyd starring David Suchet, who makes the perfect Poirot.

Back to Walking

We walked 3 miles in frosty cold this morning in 58' 8". Brrr!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Vote for the New 7 Wonders of the World

On July 7, 2007, the winners will be announced. You can have your say here.

What kind of reader are you?

This is me:

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm

You're probably in the final stages of a Ph.D. or otherwise finding a way to make your living out of reading. You are one of the literati. Other people's grammatical mistakes make you insane.

Dedicated Reader
Book Snob
Literate Good Citizen
Fad Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Guys and Dolls

Guys and Dolls was the movie tonight, chosen because I wanted something light-hearted. It's a musical comedy starring Marlon Brando, who sings "Luck, Be a Lady," Frank Sinatra, Jean Simmons and Vivian Blaine.

1001Flicks has a review.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Who's on first?

Another penguin video

Can penguins survive global warming?

Penguin video

Ya win some, and ya lose some.

The Shape of Water, by Andrea Camilleri

The Shape of Water is the first in the Inspecter Montalbano mystery series by Andrea Camilleri. It was translated from Italian into English by Stephen Sartarelli. Although these books have been well-read in Italy since 1994 a translation into English didn't appear until 2002. Inspector Montalbano loves good food and spends quite a bit of time fending off attractive women. He's definitely not a stickler for the rules. This was a fun, quick read.

Test your musical skills in 6 minutes.

from Jake Mandell's blog:

While working at the music and neuroimaging lab at Beth Israel/Harvard Medical School in Boston, I developed a quick online way to screen for the tonedeafness. It actually turned out to be a pretty good test to check for overall pitch perception ability. The test is purposefully made very hard, so excellent musicians rarely score above 80% correct.

Give it a try!

My score: 80.6% Correct

The site says results can be interpreted this way:

Greater than 90% correct: World-class musical abilities
Greater than 75% correct: Excellent musical abilities
Greater than 60% correct: Good musical abilities
Less than 50% correct: You may have a pitch perception deficit

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Good Soldier, by Ford Madox Ford

I've finished reading The Good Soldier: A Tale of Passion, by Ford Madox Ford, for the 19thCenturyLit Yahoo reading group. The book, written in 1914, is in the public domain and is available online at Sparknotes and at Jane Smiley's review in The Guardian is here.

How will you be defined?

divers and sundry --


A beat poet working the streets

'How will you be defined in the dictionary?' at

Monday, November 13, 2006


I watched the 1963 Charade with Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. A big draw was James Coburn, who has always been a favorite of mine. I've looked for him ever since I saw my first Flint movie, and I loved The President's Analyst. The Magnificent Seven was priceless.

Charade is a treat.

The Stone Canal, by Ken Macleod

I don't like books that alternate between the past and the future, and if I'd realized that The Stone Canal, by Ken Macleod, was such a book I'd never have bought it. (sigh) By the time I realized it I was on page 61 and thought I might as well read on as I'd enjoyed the future-on-Mars-with-sentient-robots part. I continued to enjoy the more futuristic chapters but never could get much into the political intrigue sections that took place on Earth in the past. Ken Macleod has a blog, and one of the fan sites devoted to him is here.

RIP Jack Williamson

Science Fiction author Jack Williamson died Friday at the age of 98. There is an obituary here. Another obituary is here. John Clute's obituary at The Independent is here. The Williamson Science Fiction Library web site is here. I'm most familiar with his Legion of Space series and with the Starchild Trilogy he wrote with Frederik Pohl.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

RIP Jack Palance

Jack Palance died Friday of natural causes at the age of 87. MSNBC coverage is here. The Reuters report is here. I remember him best in 2 particular roles: 1) as the bad guy in Shane; 2) as Muscular Dystrophy in a segment for the Jerry Lewis telethon years ago that personified the disease as pure evil.

Sunday Psalm

Psalm 42 (NRSV)

1 As a deer longs for flowing streams,
so my soul longs for you, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and behold
the face of God?
3 My tears have been my food
day and night,
while people say to me continually,
“Where is your God?”
4 These things I remember,
as I pour out my soul:
how I went with the throng,
and led them in procession to the house of God,
with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving,
a multitude keeping festival.
5 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my help 6 and my God.
My soul is cast down within me;
therefore I remember you
from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,
from Mount Mizar.
7 Deep calls to deep
at the thunder of your cataracts;
all your waves and your billows
have gone over me.
8 By day the LORD commands his steadfast love,
and at night his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.
9 I say to God, my rock,
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I walk about mournfully
because the enemy oppresses me?”
10 As with a deadly wound in my body,
my adversaries taunt me,
while they say to me continually,
“Where is your God?”
11 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my help and my God.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Kelly's Heroes

Veterans' Day seemed a good time for the movie #2 Son selected -Kelly's Heroes. It stars Clint Eastwood, Telly Savalas, Don Rickles, Carroll O'Connor and Donald Sutherland. #2 Son claims it's the funniest movie he owns, which he says is a testimony to the type of movies he owns, but it really is a funny film.


Trailer for Superman: The Movie

Superman: The Movie is as good as it gets for a Superman movie except for a couple of personal issues. I prefer the George Reeves TV interpretation of Clark Kent to the Christopher Reeve version as the latter is just too clumsy for my taste, and I despise the poetry-in-motion flying sequence. #1 Son hadn't seen it before, though he'd seen many a Superman cartoon in addition to the Reeves TV serial.

Here's one of the old Superman cartoons "Terror on the Midway":

Here's a little clip of George Reeves' Superman breaking through a wall:

Friday, November 10, 2006

Anniversary of the Wreck of the Edmund Fitgerald

There's a good post here, which includes a video tribute and the song lyrics. There are also some links on the tragedy here at my LiveJournal.

Addams Family Values

We watched Addams Family Values tonight, having finished the first season of the '60's TV series and the first movie. Very funny. We were all laughing out loud.

What American Accent Do You Have?

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Northeast

Judging by how you talk you are probably from north Jersey, New York City, Connecticut or Rhode Island. Chances are, if you are from New York City (and not those other places) people would probably be able to tell if they actually heard you speak.

The Inland North
The Midland
The South
The West
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

Happy Birthday, Neil Gaiman!

Today is the birthday of Neil Gaiman. He has a web site here. He wrote the Sandman books and American Gods. I'm looking forward to seeing MirrorMask , but I'm waiting to find it for less than the 20-something dollars it's selling for now.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Demolition Man

Bookend beginning and ending with huge explosions and then you have Mindless Mahem packed in the middle. What's not to like? Demolition Man stars Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes and has such fun players as Glenn Shadix (from BeetleJuice) and Jesse Ventura. It's science fiction action/adventure and a great movie to eat popcorn by, even though I just drank coffee.


NYTimes has a review.

Rolling Stone:
Call it the Frankenstein of action thrillers, since it's stitched together out of pieces from better movies.

it emerges as an action film with rare intelligence and a considerable sense of humour.

Remember the Trojan Horse?

Think anybody would fall for that same trick today?

hat tip: Locusts & Honey

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho

Recommended by a friend, this book took very little time to read. I think The Alchemist, by Paul Coelho, is a tale told better elsewhere. It's wildly popular, though, so I wonder what I'm missing.

Carlucci's Heart, by Russo

Today I finished Carlucci's Heart, the last book in the Carlucci trilogy by Richard Paul Russo. I liked to well enough, but it seemed like I knew too much of the plot ahead of time. Several breaking bits of of the story were things I'd already figured out, and I'm not good at figuring out plots before the author tells me. Maybe it's that the mystery/detective stories are not ones I've read much.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Il Postino

I was home alone tonight and decided to watch Il Postino, since it has never made it to the top of the list when the rest of the family has been at home. Pablo Neruda, the Chilean poet, is in exile on a small primitive Italian island. The "Postino" of the title is a shy man who delivers Neruda's mail to him. He blooms in response to Neruda's kind treatment and wins his true love with the poetic spirit he learns to share. I was touched by this film.

Massimo Troisi starred as the postman in this his last film, dying at the age of 41 as filming was being completed.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Addams Family: The Movie

We've been watching episodes of The Addams Family TV show, and tonight we watched the movie based on the show. It really _is_ a scream. Considering that using the original cast was impractical, the casting was wonderful. An enjoyable homage that manages to be true to the original while adding freshness to the characters and themes. Raul Julia, who played Gomez Adams, died at the age of 54 only a few years after this film was released. The sequel was the next to the last movie he made. Anjelica Huston played Morticia Addams and is still very active.

Sunday Psalm

Psalm 146 (KJV)

1 Praise ye the LORD. Praise the LORD, O my soul.
2 While I live will I praise the LORD: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being.
3 Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.
4 His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.
5 Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God:
6 Which made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is: which keepeth truth for ever:
7 Which executeth judgment for the oppressed: which giveth food to the hungry. The LORD looseth the prisoners:
8 The LORD openeth the eyes of the blind: the LORD raiseth them that are bowed down: the LORD loveth the righteous:
9 The LORD preserveth the strangers; he relieveth the fatherless and widow: but the way of the wicked he turneth upside down.
10 The LORD shall reign for ever, even thy God, O Zion, unto all generations. Praise ye the LORD.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Bloody Mallory

The Elder Son and I watched Bloody Mallory this afternoon. It's a vampire-slayer movie of sorts, in which the Pope is kidnapped and ghouls attack and the rescuers are a widow who had slain her demon husband, a mute telepathic child, a purple-haired transvestite, and one of the priests who'd been guarding the Pope at the time of the kidnapping. Campy fun. In French with English subtitles.


Carlucci's Edge, by Russo

I just finished Carlucci's Edge by Richard Paul Russo, and it's really more detective novel than science fiction. The plot's not terribly complex and isn't hard to follow, but it is complex enough to maintain interest and keep those pages turning. I like the edge these books have -the darkness. They have a noir-esque feel to them to me. The science fiction elements are not so over-whelming as to turn off folks who aren't familiar with the genre. I enjoyed the read and look forward to the 3rd book in this trilogy. There's an interview with Russo here at and another here at infinityplus.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Destroying Angel, by Richard Paul Russo

I am reading the Carlucci Trilogy by Richard Paul Russo and have finished the first book. I'd had the second book in the series for years without coming across the first one, but I recently found the trilogy in a one-volume paperback edition at a book stall at the Southern Festival of Books. Destroying Angel is a detective story about a serial killer and takes place in near-future San Francisco. It was grim but an easy read, which I appreciated after Harrison's Light, and I look forward to finishing the second book. It connected well with both my long-time love of science fiction and my recent exploration into the mystery genre.

I read Ship of Fools years ago and loved the book until the ending. For me the ending just kinda petered out, and I never looked for other books by Russo. I'm glad I rediscovered him.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Wolf Man

Tonight we watched The Wolf Man, with Lon Chaney, Jr. in the title role. This is my favorite of the monster movies, which my hubbie hadn't realized until quite recently. Once he found out he went out and bought the DVD to replace our old VHS tape which we couldn't get to play on Halloween night. Claude Rains is priceless as always and is perfect as Sir John Talbot, father of the recently returned son who suffers under the tragic curse. Bela Lugosi puts in a fine performance as the gypsy fortune-teller. I love Maria Ouspenskaya as the old gypsy who tries to help Larry Talbot in his time of great need. She is also a bright spot in Love Affair, which I much prefer to the remake.

"The way you walked was thorny through no fault of your own, but as the rain enters the soil the river enters the sea, so tears run to a predestined end. Your suffering is over. Now you will find peace for eternity."

All Souls Day

All Souls Day is one of the days each year when we go to the cemetery. We'll be putting Fall flowers on the graves.

Photo from Flickr.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Feast of All Saints

Listen to the tune here.

For all the saints, who from their labors rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress and their Might;
Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For the Apostles’ glorious company,
Who bearing forth the Cross o’er land and sea,
Shook all the mighty world, we sing to Thee:
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For the Evangelists, by whose blest word,
Like fourfold streams, the garden of the Lord,
Is fair and fruitful, be Thy Name adored.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For Martyrs, who with rapture kindled eye,
Saw the bright crown descending from the sky,
And seeing, grasped it, Thee we glorify.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

O blest communion, fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
All are one in Thee, for all are Thine.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

O may Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold,
Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,
And win with them the victor’s crown of gold.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave, again, and arms are strong.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon, soon to faithful warriors comes their rest;
Sweet is the calm of paradise the blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of glory passes on His way.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
And singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost:
Alleluia, Alleluia!

Back Crick

Oooo, I got pain behind my right shoulder blade during the walk this morning so didn't finish it. We walked 3 miles in 47 minutes and change.