Sunday, June 30, 2013


Every once in a while we get mushrooms pop up out in the grass. It surprises me how many people seem almost offended by their presence. They are probably the same people who want the violets poisoned. I like the mushrooms and the violets.

Ip Man

Ip Man is a 2008 film based on the life of the man who was Bruce Lee's martial arts master. I find it enjoyable as an action film.

trailer: calls it "A dazzling martial-arts epic". Slant Magazine gives it 3 out of 4 stars and opens by saying, "Just as historically erroneous, morally reductive, and narratively clumsy as we'd wish of a film about Bruce Lee's mentor, Ip Man is nonetheless an explosive exercise in bare-knuckled myth-biography." Empire Online concludes, "The action is enthralling even if the storyline doesn't always have the ring of truth about it." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 84%.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Three Guys Pizza Pies

The Husband heard about Three Guys Pizza Pies from a friend of his, and The Husband, The Younger Son and I went out to try it one night. There were plenty of tables available when we got there, but the place filled up as time passed. All the many televisions were tuned to some kind of rodeo/bull-riding event, so we got the impression we weren't exactly their target audience; but the service was excellent and very friendly.

We ordered the cheese bites appetizer, but I forgot to take a picture of it until it was almost gone.

I had a small green pepper and mushroom pizza, and 2 of the 6 pieces filled me up completely. I took the rest of it home, and The Daughter and I split it the next night. 3 meals out of 1 pizza is great! And the pizza tasted good, too.

The Husband had a small ground beef and Canadian bacon, and The Younger Son had a medium spicy sausage and pepperoni. They liked their pizzas every bit as much as I liked mine and were just as incapable of eating the whole thing. We've heard the calzones are good, too, so I plan on getting one of those next time. Their menu is online here.

Our total was over $50, including tax and tip.

It's on Stage out in Lakeland, which I always think of as home to a long-gone amusement park and a mostly-empty outlet mall and current home to white-flight suburbanites. And now, I guess, excellent pizza. It's hard to justify driving out there when we have Memphis Pizza Cafe so close, but we like going to places we've never been before in addition to old favorites.

Yelp has mixed reviews but most seem positive. Urban Spoon has an 84% score.

Paul Klee

Today is the anniversary of the death in 1940 of artist Paul Klee. The David Zwirner Gallery has information, including photographs, about his life and work. There is a short biography and pictures of some of his work here at, which says, "Klee is known for his simple stick figures, suspended fish, moon faces, eyes, arrows, and quilts of color, which he orchestrated into fantastic and childlike yet deeply meditative works.". MoMA has information on him here. There is a short bio and some information about his most famous work here at There is an online gallery of some of his work here.

The picture above is of his Head of a Man. The picture below is of Twittering Machine.

Ad Parnassum (1932) is considered his masterpiece:

A one-hour overview:

Klee died at the age of 60 of scleroderma. He was granted his long-sought Swiss citizenship 6 days after his death. Though born in Switzerland, Swiss citizenship was (is?) conferred through the father. His mother was Swiss, and he was born in Switzerland; but his father was German, so he was considered a German citizen.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Waterloo Bridge (1940)

What a tearjerker! An old-fashioned romantic melodrama, Waterloo Bridge stars Robert Taylor and Vivien Leigh as the doomed lovers. Maria Ouspenskaya, a favorite in this house, also has a part. Mervyn LeRoy directs. It's a sad and touching story, not over-done, if you like this sort of thing. This is the 2nd adaptation of a play, the first film having been released in 1931.


DVD Talk concludes:
One of the truly great classical Hollywood tearjerkers is the beautifully quiet, tragic Waterloo Bridge. Vivien Leigh, fresh off her triumph in Gone With the Wind, is luminously lovely and sad, while Robert Taylor was never better as the life-loving officer who falls for Leigh at first sight. Straightforward melodrama not condescended to, with equal parts romance and tragedy combined for a heavy swoon effect. I highly, highly recommend the hushed, gentle, lovely Waterloo Bridge.
TCM has an overview. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics review of 80% and an audience score of 88%.

Masumiyet (Innocence)

Masumiyet ("Innocence") is a 1997 Turkish film by director Zeki Demirkubuz. I like the music. This is a sad movie, grim. It is about Yusuf, who has just been released from his 10 year prison term, sentenced for murdering his married sister's lover and injuring his sister in a way that left her mute. After his release, he looks up his sister and her husband. The sister is regularly beaten by her husband. Yusef moves into a seedy hotel and meets Bekir, a man who has fallen hopelessly in love with Ugur, a nightclub singer and whore who is in turn in love with a multiple murderer serving a life sentence.


Rotten Tomatoes doesn't have a critics score, but the audience score is 97%. MRQE has links to 3 reviews.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Summer Solstice

Sunset over the Mississippi River.

It was such a beautiful day, and there were many people down on the river. These pictures were taken on the Solstice, but it took me a few days to get around to posting them

The Sense of an Ending

The Sense of an Ending is a Booker Prize-winning 2011 novel by Julian Barnes. I love this book. It's beautifully written and won't let you put it down.

favorite quotes:
I survived. "He survived to tell the tale" -that's what people say, don't they? History isn't the lies of the victors, as I once glibly assured Old Joe Hunt; I know that now. It's more the memories of the survivors, most of whom are neither victorious or defeated.
Does character develop over time? In novels, of course it does; otherwise there wouldn't be much of a story. But in life? I sometimes wonder. Our attitudes and opinions change, we develop new habits and eccentricities; but that's something different, more like decoration. Perhaps character resembles intelligence, except that character peaks a little later: between twenty and thirty, say. And after that, we're just stuck with what we've got. We're on our own. If so, that would explain a lot of lives, wouldn't it? And also -if this isn't too grand a word- our tragedy.
from the inside of the cover:
A novel so compelling that it begs to be read in a single sitting, The Sense of an Ending has the psychological and emotional depth and sophistication of Henry James at his best, and is a stunning new chapter in Julian Barnes's oeuvre.

This intense novel follows Tony Webster, a middle-aged man, as he contends with a past he never thought much about —until his closest childhood friends return with a vengeance: one of them from the grave, another maddeningly present. Tony thought he left this all behind as he built a life for himself, and his career has provided him with a secure retirement and an amicable relationship with his ex-wife and daughter, who now has a family of her own. But when he is presented with a mysterious legacy, he is forced to revise his estimation of his own nature and place in the world.
There is a reading group guide with discussion questions here. Kirkus Reviews describes it as "subtly devastating". The Huffington Post reviewer "wanted to like it more than I actually did." NPR calls it his "most emotionally forthcoming book to date". Forbes closes with this:
Once all the questions are answered, the reader is left in the same state that Tony is in the book’s final pages—floored at life’s essential mysteries, and frustrated that they cannot be relived. Fortunately for us, we can just read the book again.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Moonrise Kingdom

Moonrise Kingdom is a 2012 Wes Anderson film, and I'd have known him as the director without being told. It stars Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand and Tilda Swinton. I loved it. I've liked the Anderson films I've seen so far. The Husband tends to cock his head and wonder why I'm laughing.


Slant Magazine gives it 3 1/2 stars out of 4 and says, "it doesn't take the director long to show why his films can never be reduced to the superficial elements which are all his many imitators seem capable of grasping." Rolling Stone also gives it 3 1/2 out of 4 stars and closes with this: "the hilarious and heartfelt Moonrise Kingdom is a consistent pleasure. By evoking the joys and terrors of childhood, it reminds us how to be alive." Slate says, "Moonrise Kingdom (Focus Features) is fun: a gorgeously shot, ingeniously crafted, ├╝ber-Andersonian bonbon that, even in its most irritatingly whimsical moments, remains an effective deliverer of cinematic pleasure." Empire Online closes by saying, "This is a delightful film of innocence lost and regained ... Charming, daft, bright and joyful. Very — yes, okay — Wes Anderson-y." Roger Ebert gives it 3 1/2 out of 4 stars (reviews look weirdly consistent in stars awarded) and says,
In Anderson's films, there is a sort of resignation to the underlying melancholy of the world; he is the only American director I can think of whose work reflects the Japanese concept mono no aware, which describes a wistfulness about the transience of things.
Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 94%.

Vera Cruz

Vera Cruz is a 1954 Western directed by Robert Aldrich and starring Gary Cooper, Burt Lancaster, Ernest Borgnine, Cesar Romero, Denise Darcel in her most important role, Charles Bronson, and Jack Elam. You cannot go wrong with that team. This movie feels like it was made after 1954, a bit before its time. Thoroughly enjoyable, it's surprising it's not better known and respected.
As the American Civil War was ending, another war was just beginning. The Mexican people were struggling to rid themselves of their foreign Emperor -Maximilion.

Into this fight rode a handful of Americans -ex-soldiers, adventurers, criminals- all bent on gain. The drifted South in small groups - - -

And some came alone -
via youtube:

The Museum of Modern Art praises the director and the cinematographer Ernest Laszlo. Time Out calls it "A brash, lively, and totally appealing Western". DVD Talk opens its review with this:
Robert Aldrich may have inspired the entire Italian western movement of the 1960s with this rip-roaring, cynical and slightly sadistic adventure with a subversive political dimension. Vera Cruz boasts great performances from big stars, a gallery of up 'n coming tough guy talent and frenzied direction from a big talent making his first big-budget production.
TCM has an overview. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 82%.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Memphis, by the Milk Carton Kids


by Milk Carton Kids. I heard this recently on eTown on WEVL.

There was a dream
I had it too
You could see it
Coming true

It would travel
In the air
You could make it
If you dared

Now the sun goes down over Dolly Parton bridge
The one time home of soul takes our country's final breath

I guess it takes
More than a man
More than a dream
For such a fight
Graceland is a ghost town tonight

This ain't a trip
With my son
There's no guitar
Shines in the sun

Those days are gone
May new ones come
Before it's all just
A museum

Now the sun goes down over Dolly Parton bridge
The one time home of soul takes our country's final breath

I guess it takes
More than a king
More than a song
For such a fight
Graceland is a ghost town tonight

I guess it's been a long decline
God bless the souls that shook up mine

Graceland is a ghost town
Graceland is a ghost town
Graceland is a ghost town tonight

Tea-Making Tips

How to make tea the right way from the Empire Tea Bureau in 1941:

Do it right and "tea will revive you."

HT: Open Culture

Monday, June 24, 2013

Danish Devils

Tasmanian Devils are suffering, laid low by the Devil Facial Tumour Disease which is wiping them out in their homeland. The news that Tasmanian Devils have been born in Denmark is fantastic news!

The Examiner reports:
TWO Tasmanian devils which joined Princess Mary in Denmark have become the first to breed successfully in the northern hemisphere. The Copenhagen Zoo says that at least five joeys are being carried in the pouches of their two females.
The Mercury quotes zoo staff as saying, "They are now 10 weeks old and 5cm long. It is fantastic news for us and for the zoo world as such." Perth Now says, "The young devils, currently about the size of a walnut, were found when the females were pouch-checked by zoo staff last week. Curator Flemming Nielsen said three were spotted in one female and another two in the other."

The photo at the top of the post is from Wikipedia.

Judge Dredd

Judge Dredd is a 1995 Sylvester Stallone science fiction film based on the comic strip character. I had forgotten having seen this until they got out into the wasteland, and then it all came back to me. It bears no resemblance to Judge Dredd the character, but it's a fun enough time waster. And now I've seen it twice!


Moria says, "Despite the wealth of imagination that exists in the source material, the film has taken a tedious route that seems afraid to have gone anywhere imaginative. It ended up being a big financial flop." DVD Talk says, "I suppose it's never really a good thing when your biggest compliment for a film is that it's over fast, but that's the case here." Roger Ebert says, ""Judge Dredd" never slows down enough to make much sense; it's a "Blade Runner" for audiences with Attention Deficit Disorder." The Rotten Tomatoes critics score is 18%. Honestly, sometimes I wonder if some of these critics got into the wrong line at the theater and were expecting Citizen Kane instead.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

R.I.P. Bobby "Blue" Bland

Bobby "Blue" Bland died today at the age of 83.

Memphis Monday Morning lyrics:
Memphis Monday mornin'
The summer rain is pourin' down
Memphis Monday mornin'
And the summer rain is pourin' down
I keep reachin' for my baby
But my baby she's not around
She's not around

She left me without a warnin'
And she took the early morning train
Now if I don't find my baby
I know I'll go insane

Memphis Monday mornin'
And I'm tellin' you
The summer rain is comin' down,
I keep reachin' and reachin' for my baby
But my baby she can't be found

Mr. Ticket Master
Tell me where is my baby bound
Please Mr. Ticket Master
Can you tell me where my baby is bound
I've gotta know
Oh I, I would give anything
Just to turn that train around

Station information
Would you check your schedule, please
I need her destination
I'm down here on my knees

Memphis Monday mornin'
And the summer rain is comin' down
Oh I keep reachin' for my baby
But you know one thing
My baby's not around
I couldn't find her

Memphis, Memphis Monday morning
Oh, the summer rain is pourin' down
Oh, yes it is
Memphis Monday mornin'
And the summer rain is pourin' down
I keep reachin for my baby
My baby can't be found

Memphis Monday mornin'
The summer rain is comin' down
Oh yes it is
Oh yes it is

Memphis, oh, Memphis Monday morning
Oh children, the summer rain is comin down
Right down here on Beale Street
Memphis Monday morning
I keep telling you the summer rain is comin' down

Down there on Third Street
Right by the Peabody
Along with the Days Inn
Memphis, Memphis Monday mornin'
Comin' down on WDIA,
Rufus, and J Mack ...

June Flowers in the Cancer Survivors Park

I pass by the Cancer Survivors Park fairly often, and I stopped recently to take pictures of the wildflowers.

I love the way they manage the gardens in this park.

I saw a few butterflies and bumblebees, but didn't manage to get a picture of any.

The one difficulty is that there is absolutely no shade. But these gorgeous flowers seem to like it that way.

I got a bit carried away with the camera.

Conan the Barbarian (2011)

Conan the Barbarian re-tells the story. It is fun viewing. I mean, I didn't expect deep philosophical insights. I didn't even expect 3-dimensional characters. I got what I expected: a loud action movie. I'm not complaining.


Slant Magazine gives it 1 out of 4 stars and says,
It's a crap movie that seems to have come by its crappiness honestly—the downtown version of Clash of the Titans, with no evidence of improvement, but swaying with a drunken confidence to get freak-nasty and give grown-up ticket buyers their money's worth.
Roger Ebert calls it "a brutal, crude, witless high-tech CGI contrivance". The spoilsport critics over at Rotten Tomatoes give it a rating of 24%.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Bicycle Milestone

I didn't ride any at all during the Winter or during this rainy Spring we've had, so I've been trying to build my flabby muscles back up. I was riding on the sidewalk and decided to see how slowly I could take a right-hand turn at a corner. I found out. I haven't had a skinned knee or shin since I was in elementary school, but I have both now. One on each leg.

I got back on and rode some more before coming home and assessing the damage. My knee was ok, but the shin was skinned up pretty bad and quite swollen. I cleaned myself up and put ice on it. I'll live. It doesn't even hurt that much. But, ya know, I'm not as young as I used to be.

Bijoux Parisiens: French Jewelry from the Petit Palais, Paris

This isn't my favorite type of exhibit, but variety is the spice of life. Bijoux Parisiens: French Jewelry from the Petit Palais, Paris is the current major exhibit at the Dixon. The Dixon site says,
The exhibition tells the dazzling story of French jewelry from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries and draws from the extensive collection of fine jewelry, drawings, paintings, and fashion prints from the Petit Palais in Paris, one of the great art museums of France. Bijoux parisiens features nearly seventy works of jewelry and over 200 design paintings, fashion prints, and photographs, tracing changing styles from the Neoclassicism of the Napoleonic era, through the Art Deco.

Rubies, sapphires, diamonds, and emeralds sparkle in brooches, necklaces, and earrings, but also in elegant paintings of jewelry design. The exhibition fuses fashion, art, and history through beautiful suites of objects. Bijoux parisiens illustrates the exhibitions, events, and influences that helped establish the great Parisian maisons that are household names today.
My favorite is a rather plain piece, a c. 1871 brooch by Auguste (1818-1900) and Joseph (1828-1897) Fanniere. Bouquet of Rushes was exhibited in the 1878 World's Fair. I can't find a picture of it online anywhere.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Hiroshima Mon Amour

Hiroshima Mon Amour is a 1959 French/Japanese film directed by Alain Resnais (Last Year at Marienbad). The striking score is by Georges Delerue and Giovanni Fusco. The Wikipedia plot description begins with this:
Hiroshima mon amour concerns a series of conversations (or one enormous conversation) over a 36-hour long period between a French actress (Emmanuelle Riva), referred to as She, and a Japanese architect (Eiji Okada), referred to as He. They have had a brief relationship, and are now separating. The two debate memory and forgetfulness as She prepares to depart,
I seem to be reading a lot of books and seeing a lot of movies that feature memory as a concept or central element. This one is painful to watch. Those memories we are so sure of: how much have we actually forgotten? Isn't is sometimes a blessing to forget? how closely does our memory come to what actually happened? Do our memories help form who we are, or does who we are shape our memories? if we no longer remember something, does it cease to affect us? Does forgetting something change us? does sharing a memory protect us from its loss? is there any way to know?

via youtube:

It is included in the book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die. DVD Talk says, "Is Hiroshima mon amour a great picture? Definitely yes, although modern audiences may not appreciate how revolutionary its flashback structure was at the time, when all flashbacks needed very literal preparation." The Spinning Image says, "Hiroshima Mon Amour is an excellent film ..., as a work of the cinematic arts, and as a chart of the human psyche’s difficulties in dealing with memory." The critics score at Rotten Tomatoes is 100%.

Elwood's Shack

Tucked in between the Lowe's loading dock and the back of a row of businesses that face Summer Avenue is Elwood's Shack. The Husband and I tried their pizza recently. I had the Margherita and The Husband had the BBQ pizza. Why anyone would put BBQ on a pizza is beyond me, but to each his own. I enjoyed half my pizza and took the rest home for supper the next night. I ordered the small size, but it looked huge to me. After we ordered, we saw that they sell bottled Orange Crush, so I'll be getting that next time. The Husband ate about half of his, but it was just too spicy and a bit heavy on the sauce to suit his taste. He'll try something else the next time we go.

We went over there for breakfast a few days later and tried their biscuit with bacon. Wonderful! At only $3 it's a great deal, and the coffee is even good.

I hope this place does well and stays in business for many a long year.

The Memphis Flyer likes it. Memphis Que has good things to say. Go Memphis has a positive review. The Urban Spoon has a score of 95%. Yelp has 4 1/2 stars out of 5 with 13 reviews.

The menu is online here. They have a Facebook page.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Dixon's Flower Gardens

The Dixon has beautiful flowers!

There are lilies -"jewels"- scattered throughout the gardens:

The Mourner

The Mourner by Richard Stark (Donald E. Westlake) is the 4th book in the Parker series. Wikipedia describes the character this way: "A ruthless career criminal, Parker has almost no traditional redeeming qualities, aside from efficiency and professionalism. Parker is cold, methodical, and perfectly willing to commit murder to get what he wants." That is accurate.

John Banville wrote the introduction to this book, and if he likes it that's a good recommendation. I bought this book at the same time I bought The Hunter, which is the 1st in the series. I enjoyed the 1st one as well as this one, perhaps mainly because they are so different from what I usually read. These are crime novels but with the criminal as the protagonist. I'd be interested in seeing the Lee Marvin film that was based on the first book, but I never see it at our local music/video store for anything less than full list price. I'll pick it up eventually, but not while I have so many un-watched DVDs on the shelf.

from the back of the book:
The Mourner is a story of convergence -of cultures and of guys with guns. Hired by a dame who has something he needs, Parker is hot on the trail of a statue stolen from a fifteenth-century French tomb. Coincidentally, the foreign official who has been hiding the statue is targetted by the KGB, which dispatches one of its best men, the loquacious and colorful Auguste Menlo, who makes the mistake of bringing in the Mob. In a deadly, treacherous endgame, Parker will find who intends to bury whom -and why no one will be crying over his grave.

I don't know why reviews of these books are so hard to come by. There's a tribute site to the Parker novels here.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Dixon Garden's Hydrangeas

It was another beautiful day with bright sunshine and a temperature rising into the 90s before noon. It was a perfect day to visit the Dixon's gardens. I went primarily to see the hydrangeas, although there are plenty of other attractions.

They are so beautiful!