Friday, August 31, 2007

The Maltese Falcon

Husband and I were the only ones in on this film. The Maltese Falcon directed by John Huston, is a favorite of mine, and I'm always up for another viewing. Humphrey Bogart stars. It also has Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet in his first movie.


Roger Ebert considers it a "great film". The New York Times advises, "Don't miss "The Maltese Falcon" if your taste is for mystery fare." Variety calls it "one of the best examples of actionful and suspenseful melodramatic story telling in cinematic form."

9/9/2007: Noir of the Week has a blog post on this film.

8/1/2008: MovieZeal makes it first in their month-long noir fest.

Microwavable Popcorn

Microwave popcorn can apparently kill you, but I had no idea how easy it was to do-it-myself.

HT: Tree Hugger

As I think about it, wouldn't it be much easier to just make popcorn in a skillet on the stove the way Mother taught me? That way I can put a bit of oil in the skillet, but I don't have to smear oil all over the inside of a paper bag. Much less messy, I think.

I might could get rid of the microwave oven entirely at this rate.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Pulp Fiction

Elder Son offered to expand my film knowledge with a showing of Pulp Fiction. He knows how much I do not like graphic violence and this movie seemed likely to cross over into my unacceptable range, but he said the film had a lot to offer that would make it worth trying. So I tried it. I actually liked it.


Out of the Past

Another film noir. Younger Son hasn't seen all that many of this genre and is rounding out his movie experience. Out of the Past is directed by Jacques Tourneur and stars Robert Mitchum, a favorite of mine, and Kirk Douglas as a sleazy bad guy. We think Klingons would like this film because everybody dies and nobody makes a profit. This movie is well worth watching and is good for many repeat viewings.


You can watch the beginning of the film here at Mitchum's Facebook page.

Bright Lights Film Journal calls it "riveting" and says it is "usually ranked as one of the best of the genre". Images Journal says it is "An essential noir and one of the great archetypal noirs." has an article. It's one of Time's 100 Best Films.

1/13/2008: 1001Flicks has a review.
8/11/2008: Movie Zeal has a review as part of a month of noir.
5/16/2009: Noir of the Week has a review.

Lord T and Eloise

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Tender Mercies

I had only seen this movie once before, years ago, but I remember it fondly. I picked it up because it is #26 on the list of 100 most spiritually significant films, and I'm meandering through that list as the opportunity arises.

Tender Mercies stars Robert Duvall as a recovering alcoholic trying to find a new life for himself. He won the 1983 Academy Award for Best Actor for this role.

Most of the movies we watch are more plot-driven. This one is less linear and more character-driven.


Roger Ebert includes it on his list of great movies.


New York Times
Hollywood Jesus
Spirituality & Practice

Star Trek: The New Voyages

The 5-year mission continues. They are finished with episode 3 with more in the works.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Endangered: Hedgehogs!

Tree Hugger reports that the European hedgehog is threatened. The BBC blames it in part on "tidier gardens". We should campaign for less tidiness in gardens where hedgehogs live!

There's an endearing hedgehog in Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle, which is free online here, but I like those little individual hardbacks with the color illustrations. Here's a sample:

There is a hedgehog in Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland in the croquet chapter, where hedgehogs serve as the balls. Here's what those little ones look like:

Jan Brett includes hedgehogs in some of her books and has a video at her site that teaches how to draw one.

The photo at the top of the post is from the Wikipedia article on this little animal.

This Gun For Hire

This Gun for Hire stars Veronica Lake and Robert Preston (better known at our house for the 1962 Music Man and The Last Starfighter) and introduces Alan Ladd as the doomed bad guy with a good heart warped by a life-time of hard knocks. We liked this 1942 film noir.


Movie Zeal is covering this film as part of its month on Noir.

Puffins, Puffins Everywhere

Daily Tomorrow has just discovered the Puffin Project. They also have some other puffin-related links to cheer up your day.

Here's a cloud of flying puffins they don't have a link to:

LiveScience has a post on the return of the puffins to Maine. There's a photo of a puffin keeping company with a decoy and a description of the efforts required to safeguard the puffin presence.

Monday, August 27, 2007


Chronopolis made in 1982 by Piotr Kamler is a fabulous city lost in space where strange pharaoh-like immortals kill the monotony of their deathless state by fabricating time, represented by enigmatic, morphing white balls.

(from the youtube page)

Star Trek Wars

Can Picard beat Kirk, or will Kirk remain the Star Trek Master? You decide.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Women's Equality Day

Today is National Women's Equality Day, a day designated to commemorate the achievement of women's suffrage.

This is the text of the Joint Resolution of Congress in 1971:

WHEREAS, the women of the United States have been treated as second-class citizens and have not been entitled the full rights and privileges, public or private, legal or institutional, which are available to male citizens of the United States; and

WHEREAS, the women of the United States have united to assure that these rights and privileges are available to all citizens equally regardless of sex; and

WHEREAS, the women of the United States have designated August 26, the anniversary date of the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, as symbol of the continued fight for equal rights: and

WHEREAS, the women of United States are to be commended and supported in their organizations and activities,

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that August 26th of each year is designated as Women’s Equality Day, and the President is authorized and requested to issue a proclamation annually in commemoration of that day in 1920, on which the women of America were first given the right to vote, and that day in 1970, on which a nationwide demonstration for women’s rights took place.

I am woman. Hear me roar.

Tennessee was the deciding vote for the 19th Amendment, which states

Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

When my mother was born women had no right to vote. When my daughter was born women had had the right to vote for almost 70 years. We should not forget the battles that have been fought on our behalf, and we should show our appreciation by educating ourselves about the issues and exercising our rights. Before they take that right away from us, too.

Sunday Psalm

Psalm 71

1 In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust: let me never be put to confusion.

2 Deliver me in thy righteousness, and cause me to escape: incline thine ear unto me, and save me.

3 Be thou my strong habitation, whereunto I may continually resort: thou hast given commandment to save me; for thou art my rock and my fortress.

4 Deliver me, O my God, out of the hand of the wicked, out of the hand of the unrighteous and cruel man.

5 For thou art my hope, O Lord GOD: thou art my trust from my youth.

6 By thee have I been holden up from the womb: thou art he that took me out of my mother's bowels: my praise shall be continually of thee.

7 I am as a wonder unto many; but thou art my strong refuge.

8 Let my mouth be filled with thy praise and with thy honour all the day.

9 Cast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth.

10 For mine enemies speak against me; and they that lay wait for my soul take counsel together,

11 Saying, God hath forsaken him: persecute and take him; for there is none to deliver him.

12 O God, be not far from me: O my God, make haste for my help.

13 Let them be confounded and consumed that are adversaries to my soul; let them be covered with reproach and dishonour that seek my hurt.

14 But I will hope continually, and will yet praise thee more and more.

15 My mouth shall shew forth thy righteousness and thy salvation all the day; for I know not the numbers thereof.

16 I will go in the strength of the Lord GOD: I will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only.

17 O God, thou hast taught me from my youth: and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works.

18 Now also when I am old and greyheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come.

19 Thy righteousness also, O God, is very high, who hast done great things: O God, who is like unto thee!

20 Thou, which hast shewed me great and sore troubles, shalt quicken me again, and shalt bring me up again from the depths of the earth.

21 Thou shalt increase my greatness, and comfort me on every side.

22 I will also praise thee with the psaltery, even thy truth, O my God: unto thee will I sing with the harp, O thou Holy One of Israel.

23 My lips shall greatly rejoice when I sing unto thee; and my soul, which thou hast redeemed.

24 My tongue also shall talk of thy righteousness all the day long: for they are confounded, for they are brought unto shame, that seek my hurt.


Saturday, August 25, 2007

The (Modern) Great Escape

HT: The Younger Son, a Steve McQueen fan

Star Trek Travelers

World Hum has a list of the 10 greatest fictional travelers, and 5th on the list (I know, that's what I thought: FIFTH? Humph!) is the original series Enterprise crew.

What serious traveler doesn’t want to explore strange new worlds? To seek out new civilizations? To boldly go?

But I can't quite get past being 5th when #1 was Sal Paradise from Kerouac's “On the Road”.

In the comments are suggestions to include the kids from Ransome's wonderful Swallows and Amazons books, the time traveler from H.G. Wells' The Time Machine, Tolkien's Frodo, Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, Ford Prefect from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Alice from Through the Looking Glass and the children from the Narnia books.

Travelers, indeed. And I think of a 2-week vacation as a long trip.

This Space is Still Evolving

Sign seen at the Creation Museum:

The photo is from Flickr.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Good Night, and Good Luck

Good Night, and Good Luck is the Edward R. Murrow story. It surprised me that the film was only a bit over 90 minutes long; I could've done with more. I do not remember the events the movie covers, but the following Murrow quotes seem particularly relevant today:

“We cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home.”


“We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. When the loyal opposition dies, I think the soul of America dies with it.”

The scenes with McCarthy in them use actual footage of the man himself rather than an actor. The film is in black and white.


Trading in Danger

Trading in Danger is the first book in the Vatta's War series by Elizabeth Moon. The first book I read by her was Remnant Population. I liked it, really liked it, and passed it on to The Younger Son, who read it and really liked it. He was on the look-out for something else by the same author and happened across Trading in Danger at Book Traders. When he finished it he recommended it to me, and I put it on the top of my stack.

from the back of the book:

Kylara Vatta is the only daughter in a family full of sons, a young woman who has chosen a military career instead of joining the family's shipping business. It's adventure, not commerce, that stirs her soul. But after a single error in judgment, she is expelled from the Academy in disgrace. The chance to captain a Vatta Transport ship gives her a face-saving shot at redemption.

It's a simple assignment: escort one of the Vatta fleet's oldest ships on its final voyage to the scrapyard. But keeping it simple has never been Ky's style. And even though her father has provided a crew of seasoned veterans to babysit the fledgling captain, they can't stop Ky from turning the routine mission into a risky venture. Business soon takes a backseat to bravery, when Ky's change of plans sails her and the crew straight into the middle of a colonial war. For all her commercial savvy, it's her military training and born-soldier's instincts that Ky will need to call on in the face of deadly combat, dangerous mercenaries, and violent mutiny...

I liked Remnant Population much better, perhaps because it's a stand-alone and this first in a series seems to be preparing for the next book. I'm sure this series will improve once they get over convincing us that Ky is a big girl now.... The main character did seem to have a lot of focus on how young she was for her to turn out to be such a capable warrior/businesswoman/supervisor/etc. Now that the character is formed the next book will be able to focus more on steady plot development, I would think. Not to say I didn't like it -it was enjoyable, a fun read.

And there must be more to that whole model thing.

Lost Cat

Help the poor kitty find its way to the food dish.

BBC Motion Gallery

Poetry in motion.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Book to Movie Challenge

The challenge is to read 3 books between 9/1 and 12/1 that have been made into movies. I'll also be watching the movies. I picked the first 3 from the list they linked to that I was interested in but had never read or seen. I saw the P.D. James book at the store tonight and I already have City of Joy, so these will be easy.

My preliminary list:

movie: At Play in the Fields of the Lord (1991)
book: At Play in the Fields of the Lord -Peter Matthiessen

movie: Children of Men (2006)
book: Children of Men, The -P. D. James

movie: City of Joy (1992)
book: City of Joy, The -Dominique LaPierre

SMS Book Reviews created and is sponsoring this challenge. I'll participate by reading the entries over there but will just post my own here.

The 39 Steps

I thought I'd seen this movie, but I had not. The 39 Steps is an Alfred Hitchcock spy drama suspense/thriller from 1935. There is an overview focusing on Hitchcock's methods in this film here at The DVD comes in a Criterion edition as well as the no-frills version we bought.

The film is available online here at the Internet Archive:

The New York Times has a positive review. focuses its review on the Criterion release. says,
Many critics and viewers alike feel the The 39 Steps is one of Hitchcock's finest films; in fact, viewer response to the film today is often as enthusiastic as during the time of its release.

Images Journal says,
The 39 Steps is arguably Hitchcock's best British film. It's full of fascinating compositions as Hitchcock uses his camera with expressionistic gusto. More so than in his other British films, Hitchcock's work in The 39 Steps is influenced by the great German and Russian filmmakers.

9/12/2007: The Criterion Collection blog has a review.

12/31/2008: Only the Cinema has a review.

6/29/2009: Film Fanatic has a review.

Book Questions

Science Fiction, Fantasy or Horror? Science Fiction

Hardback or Trade Paperback or Mass Market Paperback? Depends on the price, but I prefer hardbacks when I can get them. I like trade paperbacks better than mass markets because it seems to me the spines hold up better. Most of my books are mass market paperbacks, though, because that is what I find more of in the used book stores.

Amazon or Brick and Mortar? Brick and Mortar. If we don't give our business to the local stores they won't be here for us in the future. I have bought online when the book I wanted wasn't available locally and couldn't be ordered by a local store.

Barnes & Noble or Borders? Borders

Hitchhiker or Discworld? Hitchhiker

Bookmark or Dog ear? Bookmark. Only pagans dog-ear their books. ;)

Asimov’s Science Fiction or Fantasy & Science Fiction? Neither. I don't read short stories anymore, though I used to when I was younger.

Alphabetize by author, Alphabetize by title, or random? By author, but separated by fiction/non-fiction and by certain categories.

Keep, Throw Away or Sell? Keep

Keep dust-jacket or toss it? Keep

Short story or novel? Novel

Harry Potter or Lemony Snicket? Harry Potter. I didn't like the first Lemony Snicket book enough to read the others.

Stop reading when tired or at chapter breaks? At chapter breaks

"It was a dark and stormy night" or "Once upon a time"? "Once upon a time"

Buy or Borrow? Buy

Buying choice: Book Reviews, Recommendation or Browse? Recommendation, especially book awards

Lewis or Tolkien? Both, but I suppose in the long run I prefer Tolkien.

Collection (short stories by the same author) or Anthology (short stories by different authors)? Neither, I don't read short stories anymore.

Tidy ending or Cliffhanger? Tidy ending, although I don't mind cliff-hangers in series books.

Morning reading, Afternoon reading or Nighttime reading? Anytime, but mostly night.

Standalone or Series? Both. I enjoy stand-alones, but series novels are fun, too.

Favorite book of which nobody else has heard? the Moomintroll books

Top 5 favorite genre books of all time? Just 5? Sheesh.... Well, in no particular order, then, maybe these: Canticle for Leibowitz, by Miller (though not the dreadful sequel); Martian Chronicles, by Bradbury; Earth Abides, by Stewart; Way Station, by Simak; Hyperion, by Simmons.

Favorite genre series? Tolkien, probably, but it's hard to decide. I also might pick Donaldson's first Thomas Covenant trilogy.

Currently Reading? Trading in Danger, the first book in the Vatta's War series by Elizabeth Moon (science fiction), author of Remnant Population

HT: SMS Book Reviews

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Hamlet (1990)

Franco Zeffirelli's 1990 Hamlet stars Mel Gibson as Hamlet, Glenn Close as Gertrude, Ian Holm as Polonius and Helena Bonham Carter as a touching Ophelia. Shakespeare plays are cut so much to turn them into movies that it's hard not to find fault with the cuts (there is a review here which details some of the editorial changes), but I liked this Hamlet.

We enjoyed Zeffirelli's Brother Sun Sister Moon and have his Romeo and Juliet waiting in the stack to be watched.


Here's the scene where he first sees his father's ghost. (Youtube link)

a scene with Ian Holm -Polonius' Advice to Laertes:

The Washington Post complains about the cuts. Rolling Stone concludes, "Olivier's Oscar-winning 1948 version remains the definitive screen Hamlet. The rest is silence. Or should have been."

Roger Ebert gives it 3.5 out of 4 stars and concludes,
We never feel, as we do sometimes with other productions, that events happen arbitrarily. Zeffirelli’s great contribution in "popularizing" the play has been to make it clear to the audience why events are unfolding as they are.

This "Hamlet" finally stands or falls on Mel Gibson’s performance, and I think it will surprise some viewers with its strength and appeal. He has not been overawed by Shakespeare, has not fallen into a trap of taking this role too solemnly and lugubriously. He has observed the young man of the earlier and less troubled scenes, and started his performance from there, instead of letting every nuance be a foreshadow of what is to come. It’s a strong, intelligent performance, filled with life, and it makes this into a surprisingly robust "Hamlet."
Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 76%.


good close-ups, and you can see some of them fly:

Monday, August 20, 2007

Time Travel

Live Science has an article about the possibility of time travel. The introduction says

A new concept for a time machine could possibly enable distant future generations to travel into the past, research now suggests.

Unlike past ideas for time machines, this new concept does not require exotic, theoretical forms of matter.

There are links to related videos, too, here and here.

A History of SF TV

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Vote on the Top 100 SF Novels

Vote here. Lots to choose from and hard to narrow it down to the 10 they allow you to choose, but do go vote. Willis' Doomsday Book is an option as is Cherryh's Foreigner.

HT: AlphaPatriot

Groucho Marx

Today is the anniversary of the death in 1977 of Groucho Marx. His death was overshadowed by the death only 3 days earlier of Elvis. Clips from his film give a glimpse of his genius in performance:

Lydia the Tattooed Lady:

Hello, I Must Be Going:

Captain Spaulding's Adventures in Africa:

It's War!:

Sanity Clause:

Marx Brothers - Sanity Clause

Add to My Profile | More Videos

And last but not least, the Stateroom Scene:

Sunday Psalm

Psalm 82

1 God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.

2 How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Selah.

3 Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.

4 Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.

5 They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course.

6 I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.

7 But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.

8 Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations.


Saturday, August 18, 2007


Book #6 for the Book Awards Challenge

Seeker is the 3rd in Jack McDevitt's Alex Benedict series. It won the Nebula Award for best novel in 2006. The 2nd book was definitely the weak link in this trilogy. I liked this one much better.

from the back of the book:

Thousands of years after an entire colony mysteriously disappears, antiquities dealer Alex Benedict comes into possession of a cup that seems to be from the Seeker, one of the colony's ships. Investigating the provenance of the cup, Alex and his assistant Chase follow a deadly trail to the Seeker-strangely adrift in a system barren of habitable worlds. But their discovery raises more questions than it answers, drawing Alex and Chase into the very heart of danger.

I bought the paperback new, because I didn't want to wait the interminable length of time before I would come across it at one of the local used book stores. If there are further books in this series I'll buy the hardbacks new. I am thoroughly enjoying this author. There is a review here that fairly well sums up my own opinion. Here's an excerpt from the end of the review:
In many ways, Seeker is a curiously old-fashioned book. Ten thousand years in the future, mankind has -- in contrast to the futures of more flamboyant writers such as Charles Stross and Cory Doctorow -- hardly changed at all. Colonies settled are thoroughly Earth-like, people by and large look and behave exactly as they do today (there are no implants, uploads or downloads) and there AIs are basically WASP holograms.

But that very element of familiarity goes a long way toward explaining McDevitt's popularity. He is regularly compared to Arthur C. Clarke, and his love of exploration and rationality are indeed reminiscent of Clarke, but in his solid championing of decency and the ordinary man prevailing, the author he is most like is Clifford D. Simak. In a world that is often -- especially to Americans -- unstable and threatening, that innate decency is more appealing than ever, and explains some of Seeker's success.

Sagan's Flatland

Carl Sagan was a genius:

I posted on Abbott's original Flatland recently.

HT: TooManyTribbles

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Best Years of Our Lives

The Best Years of Our Lives, Oscar Award-winning 1946 drama, stars Myrna Loy, Frederick March and Dana Andrews. Harold Russell won 2 Oscars for his role as a WW2 vet who had lost both hands in combat, having himself lost his hands during the war. This is a long film but a good one. I think it has held up well, and we all enjoyed watching it tonight, 2 of us for the first time.


The New York Times opens with this:
It is seldom that there comes a motion picture which can be wholly and enthusiastically endorsed not only as superlative entertainment but as food for quiet and humanizing thought. Yet such a one opened at the Astor last evening. It is "The Best Years of Our Lives."
Variety calls it "one of the best pictures of our lives." Slant Magazine gives it 3.5 out of 4 stars and says, "if The Best Years of Our Lives emerges as a more contemporary-seeing film than almost anything else to which its ingredients could compare, it’s because of how it wrestles with the burden of patriotism."

Roger Ebert has it on his list of Great Movies and says,
Seen more than six decades later, it feels surprisingly modern: lean, direct, honest about issues that Hollywood then studiously avoided. After the war years of patriotism and heroism in the movies, this was a sobering look at the problems veterans faced when they returned home.
Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 96%. 1001 Flicks has a review.

Julius Caesar (1953)

Julius Caesar stars Marlon Brando, James Mason, John Gielgud, Greer Garson and Deborah Kerr.


Here's Brando's "Dogs of War" speech:

and the "Friends, Romans, Countrymen" speech:

Thursday, August 16, 2007

R.I.P. Max Roach

Legendary drummer Max Roach has died.


New York Times

update 8/17:

Positive Liberty has a word.

Dispatches from the Culture Wars also has an appreciative post.

Elvis Presley

Today is the 30th anniversary of the untimely death of Elvis Presley at the age of 42.

a tribute:


Faith Central has links to more religion-related Elvis stories.

Time has old photos.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Raiders of the Lost Ark is the first of the Indiana Jones movies, and The Younger Son had never seen it. High time. When we discovered we did not have it -we could have sworn we had it- we went to Spin Street and bought the boxed set. He was suitably impressed, now understands where the phrase, "It's not the years, it's the mileage," comes from, and believes, like the rest of us, that the Ark is lost in the bowels of a government warehouse.


What a Way to Go!

This 1964 film is one of my favorite movies. I love it for lots of reasons, one of which is the fact that the cast includes both Robert Mitchum and Gene Kelly. What a Way to Go! is a fun, feel-good film. The reviews are horrible, I know, but the movie is such great fun that I honestly want to sit down with the reviewers and watch it with them to see how they "missed" it.

Here's a clip from the beginning of the film:

Bright Lights Film Journal doesn't like it. Variety doesn't like it either. The New York Times says it "lacks wit and grace."

Cheney Against Invading Iraq

I've seen this story all over the place. Here's the video I've been talking about:

Elvis and Religion

GetReligion comments on recent stories in the press on Elvis' religious side.

No picture of Elvis is complete without faith, as well as failure. He was not the first or the last devout country boy to stray in the big city.

Here's Elvis singing How Great Thou Art:

Elvis Sings King Creole

The Piano

I watched The Piano after the others had gone to bed last night. I remember how impressed I was with this movie when I first saw it, and I was not disappointed at this second viewing.


The Film Experience has a review.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

High Sierra

The Younger Son and I decided to make it a double feature. He narrowed it down to 3, and I picked High Sierra, another first for him. Humphrey Bogart and Ida Lupino star in this 1941 film noir. And I want to give the dog to Velma. Can we please give the dog to Velma?


The Matrix

The Younger Son had never seen The Matrix before, but The Elder Son and I decided that, considering the film, he was old enough. He liked the film. Now he understands what, "There is no spoon," means. Neo, the main character, is a prime example of a Christ figure in film.


Elvis as Religion

Faith Central offers some links to religious connections. The King lives in various guises.

Here is an interview with the author of Elvis Religion: The Cult of the King:

Monday, August 13, 2007


The Younger Son had never seen Fritz Lang's Metropolis before, and today was as good a day as any, he having found it used at Spin Street and wondering what all the fuss was about. I think he's still wondering what all the fuss is about.

Watch the shortened version (from before the recent restoration) here:

LikeTelevision Embed Movies and TV Shows

Roger Ebert says it's "one of those seminal films without which the others cannot be fully appreciated." The 1927 New York Times review says, "It is a technical marvel with feet of clay, a picture as soulless as the manufactured woman of its story." Moria has a mixed review, calling it "confused in terms of its motives and messages" but giving it 4 stars and saying, "For all its muddiness of thinking, Metropolis is an astonishing film." has a lot of resources listed and calls it "the most significant utopian film of the silent era". Bright Lights Film Journal has an article. Senses of Cinema says,
The influence of this monument of the silent era cannot be overstated; from mad scientist scenes in Frankenstein (James Whale, 1931) to the look of Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, 1982) it echoes down through the cinematic ages.
1000 Misspent Hours closes by saying,
the restored Metropolis is definitely worth a look, especially if you, like me, have ever sat down to watch one of the previously available versions and ended up wondering just what in the hell all the fuss was about.

9/20/2007: 1001Flicks has a review.

7/2/2008: GreenCine reports the original version of Metropolis has been rediscovered. Kino has more information.

9/24/2008: Out of the Past has a review.

H.G. Wells

Today is the anniversary of the death in 1946 of H.G. Wells. He was a historian of sorts and an active socialist, but he is best remembered now for his science fiction writings.

Perhaps his most-read book is The Time Machine. This book, which can be read online here, was adapted for film in 1960. This movie was my first introduction to the story.
Here's the trailer:

Another of Wells' better known works is The War of the Worlds, which can be read online here. The 1953 film version was my first exposure to the story.
the trailer:

Wells' story The Invisible Man always affected me more as horror than as strictly science fiction. I saw the 1933 Claude Rains film long before I read the book. It can be read online here.
Here's a clip from the film:

The Island of Dr. Moreau has also been made into movies, beginning with the 1933 movie starring Charles Laughton and Bela Lugosi. The book is available here.
Here's a clip from the end of the 1933 movie:

Jailhouse Rock

In honor of Death Week:

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Sunday Psalm

Psalm 33

1 Rejoice in the LORD, O ye righteous: for praise is comely for the upright.

2 Praise the LORD with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings.

3 Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise.

4 For the word of the LORD is right; and all his works are done in truth.

5 He loveth righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness of the LORD.

6 By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.

7 He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap: he layeth up the depth in storehouses.

8 Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.

9 For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.

10 The LORD bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: he maketh the devices of the people of none effect.

11 The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.

12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.

13 The LORD looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men.

14 From the place of his habitation he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth.

15 He fashioneth their hearts alike; he considereth all their works.

16 There is no king saved by the multitude of an host: a mighty man is not delivered by much strength.

17 An horse is a vain thing for safety: neither shall he deliver any by his great strength.

18 Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy;

19 To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.

20 Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield.

21 For our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name.

22 Let thy mercy, O LORD, be upon us, according as we hope in thee.


Saturday, August 11, 2007

Intrepid Explorers

Here's a slide show of the Top 10 Intrepid Explorers of All Time.

Leif Ericsson
Christopher Columbus
Amerigo Vespucci
James Cook
William Beebe
Chuck Yeager
Louise Arner Boyd
Yuri Gagarin
Anousheh Ansari

I think it's a little heavy on space exploration not to include anybody who walked on the Moon. Where's Richard Halliburton, you might well ask. How about Thor Heyerdahl? The Arctic explorers get short shrift. I guess everybody would have a different top 10 list.

Religious Beliefs Quiz

Take the quiz here and see which religions line up with your beliefs. Here are the ones I matched best:

1. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (100%)
2. Orthodox Quaker (99%)
3. Seventh Day Adventist (97%)
4. Eastern Orthodox (95%)
5. Roman Catholic (95%)

HT: Faith Central


by computer. Kinda like the God said "Poof" theory, only different.

Friday, August 10, 2007


Polaris is the 2nd book in Jack McDevitt's Alex Benedict series.

from the back of the book:

60 yrs ago the space yacht Polaris was found deserted, the fate of it's pilot and passengers a mystery. Now to mark the anniversary of the disappearance there is to be an auction of what was left behind on the ship. Using his insider knowledge, Alex Benedict, one of the preeminent antiquities dealers in the Galaxy, secures some of the artifacts. But then an explosion destroys most of the collection, convincing Alex that drastic measures are being taken to hide what happened aboard the Polaris. Which is why that's exactly what he has to find out -especially if it means risking his life...

I didn't like this book nearly as much as others I've read by this author. There was just entirely too much of them getting into dire and dangerous disasters the reader could see coming a mile off. I'm hoping the 3rd in the series, which won an award, is better reading. This book was ok for a 2nd book in a series -a series by an author I've liked before now, but I found several sections downright irritating.

Secondhand Lions

Some of us had seen Secondhand Lions before. Everybody always likes this one. It's got some great lines in it, and the plot has something to appeal to any taste. And it's got Michael Caine in it, so that makes it right there.


The Straight Story

The Straight Story, directed by David Lynch, is based on a true story. None of us had seen it before, but we all seemed to be in agreement on 2 things: 1) It was a good movie; 2) It was the slowest movie ever made.

It is #42 on the list of top 100 spiritually significant films published by


The film has a web site here.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Lord of the Beans

This parody of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings is priceless. In this version Billboy Baggypants leaves the shire, leaving everything, including the Bean, to his nephew Toto. The wizard Randalf heads up the Fellowship of the Bean, and they begin the quest. Scaryman and his Spork minions are the bad guys.

The Silly Song with Larry was Larry as an Elvish impersonator. Priceless, I'm telling you, complete with guitar, white jumpsuit and Elvis lip.

Here's the Silly Song:


I hadn't seen Tron in many years and #2 Son had never seen it. He recognized Bruce Boxleitner from Babylon 5, but I don't think he noticed Peter Jurasik. We saw David Warner, whom we know from Time Bandits, A Christmas Carol, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country and a Babylon 5 episode (Grail).

I think I liked it better this time around, and #2 Son thought it was... what did he call it? "Strange"? I'm glad I have this one.

Watch it online:

Moria says, "The visuals are like nothing ever seen on film before – or, for that matter, since." 1000 Misspent Hours says, "Today, Tron’s main claim to significance is that it featured the first large-scale use of CGI in a feature film," but that "its creators were so impressed by the effects that they scarcely concerned themselves with anything else." The New York Times calls it "beautiful -spectacularly so, at times - but dumb". Roger Ebert says,
This is an almost wholly technological movie. Although it’s populated by actors who are engaging (Bridges, Cindy Morgan) or sinister (Warner), it is not really a movie about human nature. Like STAR WARS or THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, but much more so, this movie is a machine to dazzle and delight us. It is not a human-interest adventure in any generally accepted way.

Here's a wonderful video (via io9) that combines Tron and Depeche Mode's Suffer Well:

Unicorn Museum

The Unicorn Museum is a lovely companion for the Creation Museum.

from their site:

The Unicorn Museum presents a walk through history. Designed by a noted fantasy author, this state-of-the-art 60,000 square foot museum brings the fantastical and highly implausible to life.

A fully engaging, sensory experience for intellectually undiscerning guests. Murals and realistic scenery, computer-generated visual effects, over fifty exotic animal-like replicas, life-sized giant and hill troll animatronics, and a special-effects theater complete with elven air conditioning and dwarven hand-crafted drink holders. These are just some of the impressive exhibits that everyone in your family will enjoy.

HT: BadAstronomy

The photo above is Virgin and Unicorn by Domenichino from Wikipedia's unicorn article.

Elvis Movies

As we get ready for Death Week, we might want to consider watching an Elvis movie. He made 31 films, some more watchable than others. I've been looking for King Creole, my personal favorite, at the local stores and can't find it on the shelf anywhere.

Here's a list of his movies (in reverse chronological order):

Change of Habit
The Trouble with Girls
Live a Little, Love a Little
Stay Away, Joe
Double Trouble
Easy Come, Easy Go
Paradise, Hawaiian Style
Frankie and Johnny
Harum Scarum
Tickle Me Girl Happy
Viva Las Vegas
Kissin' Cousins
Fun in Acapulco
It Happened at the World's Fair
Girls! Girls! Girls!
Kid Galahad
Follow That Dream
Blue Hawaii
Wild in the Country
Flaming Star
G.I. Blues
King Creole
Jailhouse Rock
Loving You
Love Me Tender

The photo above is from wikipedia.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Are You a Feminist?

I am. No surprises here:

You Are 100% Feminist

You are a total feminist. This doesn't mean you're a man hater (in fact, you may be a man). You just think that men and women should be treated equally. It's a simple idea but somehow complicated for the world to put into action.

HT: Half-Bakered

What Scientists Really Believe

HT: TooManyTribbles

Richard Sims

Check out his web site here.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


The photo is from

HT: Locusts & Honey

Sumo Beetles

Check out this story about the Sumo Beetles.

The photo above is from Flickr.

There's video of a Sumo Beetle wrestling tournament here:

Monday, August 06, 2007

2 SFF Shows Online

Watch Earth: Final Conflict online here. I remember when the show was new. The first season was good. The second season was not nearly as good, and I quit watching it during the second season.

HT: SFSignal

In that same post SFSignal has a link where you can watch Killers From Space online. That movie is also at the Internet Archive, moviesfoundonline and at googlevideo:

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Sunday Psalm

Psalm 49

1 Hear this, all ye people; give ear, all ye inhabitants of the world:

2 Both low and high, rich and poor, together.

3 My mouth shall speak of wisdom; and the meditation of my heart shall be of understanding.

4 I will incline mine ear to a parable: I will open my dark saying upon the harp.

5 Wherefore should I fear in the days of evil, when the iniquity of my heels shall compass me about?

6 They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches;

7 None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him:

8 (For the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth for ever:)

9 That he should still live for ever, and not see corruption.

10 For he seeth that wise men die, likewise the fool and the brutish person perish, and leave their wealth to others.

11 Their inward thought is, that their houses shall continue for ever, and their dwelling places to all generations; they call their lands after their own names.

12 Nevertheless man being in honour abideth not: he is like the beasts that perish.

13 This their way is their folly: yet their posterity approve their sayings. Selah.

14 Like sheep they are laid in the grave; death shall feed on them; and the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; and their beauty shall consume in the grave from their dwelling.

15 But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for he shall receive me. Selah.

16 Be not thou afraid when one is made rich, when the glory of his house is increased;

17 For when he dieth he shall carry nothing away: his glory shall not descend after him.

18 Though while he lived he blessed his soul: and men will praise thee, when thou doest well to thyself.

19 He shall go to the generation of his fathers; they shall never see light.

20 Man that is in honour, and understandeth not, is like the beasts that perish.


Saturday, August 04, 2007

Tour the ISS

If you go to the Nasa Space Station site and click on the Interactive Space Station Reference Guide, you can take a virtual tour.

HT: Futurismic

The photo above is from the Wikipedia article in the space station.

Friday, August 03, 2007

The Pacifier

We had seen The Pacifier before and liked it, and The Husband was in the mood for something light-hearted. We knew this would fill the bill. I'm a big Vin Diesel fan. I loved the Riddick movies and am waiting patiently for Hannibal.


Colbert Interviews Behe

My favorite point was when Behe realized he had likened himself to Einstein.

I've seen this story widely covered and can't remember where I first saw it.

Doggie Tricks

This little dog does tricks on command. Try telling her to sit, kiss, roll over, down, stand, sing, dance, shake, fetch, jump....

Try telling her to "come".

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

The twists and turns just keep on coming in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, which stars Robert Downey, Jr. as a small-time criminal who ends up at an audition by mistake and goes to Hollywood for further testing for a part. While there he is re-acquainted with his big crush from high school. He seems to attract criminal goings-on. Val Kilmer is great as a gay private detective. The movie is self-aware, with Downey's character narrating and characters talking to the audience.


A Talent for War

The first book in the Alex Benedict trilogy by Jack McDevitt, A Talent for War is written as the memoir of a wealthy antiquities dealer who ends up with more excitement than he bargained for.

from the back of the book:

Everyone knew the legend of Christopher Sim. Fighter. Leader. An interstellar hero with a rare talent for war, Sim changed mankind's history forever when he forged a ragtag group of misfits into the weapon that broke the back of the alien Ashiyyur.

But now, Alex Benedict has found a startling bit of information, long buried in an ancient computer file. If it is true, then Christopher Sim was a fraud.

For his own sake, for the sake of history, Alex Benedict must follow the dark track of a legend, into the very heart of the alien galaxy -where he will confront a truth far stranger than any fiction imaginable...

I'm enjoying McDevitt's work and looking forward to more. He's my new favorite science fiction author.

That Banana Again

I wouldn't have thought the film community would be so slow on the uptake, but it seems they are just now noticing the banana video. Scanners is getting a kick out of it, and The House Next Door leads their links post with it today.

I know I've posted this video before, but I can't find it now, so here's the video in question:

Here's the video debunked:

Ray Comfort admits defeat: Bananas are not an atheists nightmare but were intelligently designed by people. HT: The Bad Idea Blog

Steampunk Essentials

Here is a list of books from etheremporium considered to be essential readings in steampunk. The books that are in the public domain and available online:

H.G. Wells:
The War of the Worlds
The Invisible Man
The Food of the God
The Time Machine
The Island of Doctor Moreau
The War in the Air

From the Earth to the Moon
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Mysterious Island
Robur the Conqueror
Master of the World

The Iron Heel
The Star Rover

The Lost World
The Poison Belt and other Stories
The Sherlock Holmes Canon

The Picture of Dorian Gray

R.L. Stevenson:
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Stoker, Bram:
The Jewel of Seven Stars
The Lair of the White Worm

Shelley, Mary:

The Undying Monster

The Man Who Would Be King
With the Night Mail
Easy as ABC

Haggard, H. Rider:
King Solomon’s Mines
Allan Quatermain

Collins, Wilkie:
The Moonstone

His complete works

More recent books are also listed, including books by Stephen Baxter and China MiƩville. Related books are also listed.

The basic steampunk movies listed:

The Lost World (1925)

King Solomon’s mines (1937)
Metropolis (1927)
Dracula (1931)
Frankenstein (1931)
Bride of Frankenstein
The Invisible Man (1933)
A Trip to the Moon (1902)

Other films (and some tv) are also listed.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

R.I.P. Tom Snyder

I put an obit for Tom Snyder in my Ingmar Bergman post, but I wanted to update with GreenCine's post.

The iBible

HT: Locusts and Honey

Not Just a Theory

I found a website called that explains why
"it's just a theory" is not a valid argument

by explaining exactly was a theory is. The author provides a short and sweet explanation of the place the concept of "theory" holds in science and provides a few supporting links.

This video addresses the same issue:

How Fire Reacts to Sound Waves

Rubens Tube - video powered by Metacafe