Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Gunslinger is a 1956 Roger Corman Western with a woman as the main character and hero. The sheriff's widow is named sheriff in his place. Very unusual. It stars Beverly Garland, John Ireland and Allison Hayes. I'm not a fan. There's just a bit too much "cat fight" to it for my tastes.

via youtube:


She: "I'm out here disgracing Scott's memory, and it's all your fault."
He: "Nothing we both do is all my fault."

TCM has an overview.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Coffee Joke

I'm drinking my black coffee and getting a kick out of this joke:
Jean-Paul Sartre was sitting at a café table working. A waiter approached him and asked,

"Can I get you something to drink, Monsieur Sartre?"

"Yes, I’d like a cup of coffee with no cream," the philosopher replied.

A few minutes later the waiter returned and said,

"I’m sorry, Monsieur Sartre, we are all out of cream. How about with no milk?"
If coffee with cream is better than coffee with milk, would coffee without cream be better than coffee without milk? Hmmm...

It is fun to play with ideas.

I know Sartre best as a playwright, especially of No Exit. In that play, the 3 characters have all died and are locked together in a room for all eternity. You can read this one-act play here. Harold Pinter stars in this British television adaptation (via Youtube):


"How shall I endure my own company?"
"A man is what he wills himself to be."

Is Hell the other people, or is Hell what our own choices bring us? In this play, the 3 characters spend eternity confronted by the results of their actions during life and their refusal to take responsibility for those choices.

So, I'll just quote my daughter: "Make good choices!"

The image at the top of the post is scattered around the internet with no source I could find to credit.

Please join Bleubeard and Elizabeth for T Tuesdays, where there will be sharing of all things T.

Monday, April 28, 2014

I Can't Stand the Rain

I Can't Stand the Rain:

sung by Ann Peebles, who celebrated a birthday yesterday.

lyrics excerpt:
I can't stand the rain against my window
Bringing back sweet memories
I can't stand the rain against my window
'Cause he's not here with me

Oh, empty pillow
Where his head used to lay
I know you've got some sweet memories
But like the window you ain't got nothin' to say

I can't stand the rain against my window
It just keeps on haunting me
I can't stand the rain against my window
'Cause he's not here with me

Oh, empty pillow
Where his head used to lay
I know you've got some sweet memories
But like the window you ain't got nothin' to say


Sunday, April 27, 2014

Elvis Has Left the Building

Elvis Has Left the Building is a 2004 film about Elvis impersonators who are dropping like flies. It stars Kim Basinger, around whom no Elvis impersonator is safe, and John Corbett, a man whose soon-to-be-ex-wife is an Elvis impersonator. Annie Potts, Sean Astin, Angie Dickinson, Pat Morita and Wayne Newton (as himself) are also here. We think it's hilarious!


MSN has an overview. It gets no love at Rotten Tomatoes, with no critics rating and an audience score of 36%.

Saturday, April 26, 2014


Lockout is a 2012 science fiction thriller. It involves political intrigue and breaking into a high security prison in Earth orbit to save the President's daughter. Fine viewing once, and it's interesting enough, but I can't see it warranting re-watching over time. Definitely worth watching once, though.


Slant Magazine gives it 2 1/2 out of 4 stars and closes with this: "it's nothing more than a sporadically efficient, energetic genre retread, but one that, courtesy of Pearce's devil-may-care bravado, still proves to be moderately satisfying B-movie cheese." Empire Online gives it 2 out of 5 stars and concludes, "It’s just not quite as much fun as it should be, despite Pearce’s best efforts and some good chemistry with Grace. Unusually for an action thriller, this could have benefited from being just a little longer." Moria has a mixed review. DVD Talk calls it " a boatload of fun" and wants to see more of this hero. EW gives it a C and calls it "Too serious to be a parody and too stupid to be a viable action pic". Roger Ebert says, "I imagine the movie's intended audience will enjoy itself. I enjoyed myself in my own peculiar way." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 38%.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

We don't often go out to see movies in the theater -after all, if we're willing to wait just a few weeks we can buy the DVD for the price of our 3 tickets!- but this time I've decided will be my last time. Unless I can find seats made more like the old-style theater seats. The "new" over-sized stadium seating has me in severe pain in my hip and back. I'm short enough so that if I sit up straight in the chair my knees don't reach the edge of the seat and my feet dangle nowhere near the floor and my head comes up to the point that most people's necks reach giving me a horrible position to try to work around. If I slide down far enough for my feet to touch the floor, my back screams for some support of any kind. If I try to sit sideways with one or both feet up in the seat, my head hits the head rest in a bad place. Very uncomfortable no matter what I do. We have a decent-sized tv here at the house, so I think I'll stay home from now on. Unless, as I say, I can find a theater old enough to have the smaller seating.

We did like this Captain America: The Winter Soldier movie. The characters themselves were fun and well-played. Paranoia about Nazis is just getting tiresome for me if I don't also get zombies, but I forgive them in exchange for not turning Captain America into a boring cardboard cut-out.


Huffington Post opens with this:
Riveting. Stunning. Surprising. Curves are thrown at you at unsuspected moments. A great plot is filled with hair pin turns and witty one liners. Laughter erupts at unpredictable moments. In the very beginning when the logo Marvel is flashed on the screen, the audience goes wild. Everything about this film is about precision
Rolling Stone gives it 3 out of 4 stars and says it's "every rousing, whup-ass thing you want in an escapist adventure. And did I detect a hint of depth under the dazzle?" Empire Online gives it 4 out of 5 stars and concludes, "It may climax with an overly formulaic splurge, but The Winter Soldier benefits from an old-school-thriller tone that, for its first half at least, distinguishes it from its more obviously superheroic Marvel cousins." SF Signal gives it 3 out of 5 stars and closes with this:
Evans finds the right balance of stranger in a strange land and present-day hero, with just enough uncertainty and angst to give him extra dimension, adding weight to what otherwise could have been a forgettable entry. Captain America: The Winter Soldier breaks no new ground, but it renders its service admirably. gives it 3 1/2 out of 4 stars and says it "is a very good movie, the rare film in this genre that serves as both entry point and continuation. For a change, you can walk in cold and you won't be too lost." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 89%, and the audience score is even higher.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Middle Age: A Romance

Middle Age: A Romance is a 2001 Joyce Carol Oates book, her 29th novel.

Do all books center on death and loss, or does it just feel that way to me these days? In this book, members of this man's social circle react differently to his death.

from the back of the book:
In Salthill-on-Hudson, a half-hour train ride from Manhattan, everyone is rich, beautiful, and -though they look much younger- middle-aged. But when Adam Berendt, a charismatic, mysterious sculptor, dies suddenly in a brash act of heroism, shock waves rock the town. But who was Adam Berendt? Was he in fact a hero, or someone more flawed and human?
favorite quotes:
The philosopher is one who practices dying, practices death, continuously, but no one sees it.
It is trifles that constitute our lives. It is trifles that kill us.
...questions involving the obvious are the hardest to answer.
Books that are mentioned as having been read by the main character: Lucretius' On the Nature of Things, Blake's Marriage of Heaven and Hell, Whitman's Leaves of Grass

Kirkus Reviews says, "Middle Age has its moments, but it’s basically redundant and shapeless". The Guardian calls Oates "a massive literary heavyweight". The Christian Science Monitor describes the book this way: ""Middle Age" isn't a romance in the sense of a love story [I find it sad that a reviewer has to actually say this]. What Oates romanticizes -to an absurd degree- is her deceased hero, Adam Berendt, a reclusive, one-eyed sculptor and disciple of Socrates who lived for Art and Beauty and questioned everything else." The Barcelona Review says,
We may laugh at some of the characters in their misguided search for love and self-knowledge - and laugh we do - but Oates makes us care about them, too. The novel succeeds in giving us a memorable cast of "youthful" middle-aged characters from upper-class suburbia doing the best they can.
There is a reading group guide here.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Gunfight at Red Sands

Gunfight at Red Sands is a 1963 Spaghetti Western starring Richard Harrison. The brilliant Ennio Morricone (who still performs at age 85) did the music. Although Morricone was given an honorary career achievement Academy Award, he has strangely not won an Academy Award for any of his film scores. This is a good spaghetti western. In this one the foolish younger brother indiscreetly shows off the family's gold to the evil gringo card cheats. The sister is angry. The elder brother is the hero of the piece.

from the theme song:
"Keep your hand on your gun.
You can't trust anyone."

via youtube: says it's "a simple film, but possibly the best of the European pre-Fistful westerns." Images Journal calls it a "notable film" of the period.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Whimsy Cookies

There's no place to sit down in the Whimsy Cookie Company, but doesn't this place look cute! I think they need a couple or 3 little tables with chairs in front of the windows. We bought our cookies and brought them back here to have with coffee:

Oh, these cookies are sooo good! Beautiful, too, but we ate them anyway. They are $3 a piece. We will definitely go back there! I'm always pleased when a new business, especially one as fun as this one, opens up near me.

Memphis Magazine covers their move into Memphis from Germantown (a Memphis suburb). Yelp gives it 4 1/2 out of 5 stars with 3 reviews.

This post is part of the weekly T Tuesday festivities over at Bleubeard and Elizabeth's blog. Make yourself at home with the Mr. Linky on the post there.

Monday, April 21, 2014

A Feather's Not A Bird

A Feather's Not A Bird:

by Rosanne Cash.

I'm going down to Florence, gonna wear a pretty dress
I'll sit atop the magic wall with the voices in my head
Then we'll drive on through to Memphis, past the strongest shoals
Then on to Arkansas just to touch the gumbo soul

A feather's not a bird
The rain is not the sea
A stone is not a mountain
But a river runs through me

There's never any highway when you're looking for the past
The land becomes a memory and it happens way too fast
The money's all in Nashville but the light's inside my head
So I'm going down to Florence just to learn to love the thread

A feather's not a bird
The rain is not the sea
A stone is not a mountain
But a river runs through me

I burned up seven lives and I used up all my charms
I took the long way home just to end up in your arms
That's why I'm going down to Florence, now I got my pretty dress
I'm gonna let the magic wall put the voices in my head

A feather's not a bird
The rain is not the sea
A stone is not a mountain
But a river runs through me

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Death Race 2

Death Race: 2 is a prequel film to Death Race. This will be the shortest post ever: Don't bother. Even though it has Sean Bean, this movie is not worth seeing. It's slow, boring, and it has more of nothing and less of anything than I've ever seen.


It's badness has inspired The Younger Son and me to put it at the top of a list of post-1990 films that are bad but not bad in a way that makes you want to say, "This is horrible! You hafta see this!"

The list so far:
Death Race 2
In the Name of the King 2
Green Lantern
Hulk movies

Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 17%.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Escape from New York

Escape from New York is one of those movies I'll watch anytime. The last time I saw it was a little over a year ago while I was at Mother's. She wasn't doing well, so I stayed. I found this movie on one of her cable channels, so I watched it while she was abed. This time, The Younger Son put it in to watch while he ate lunch.

It's a 1981 John Carpenter science fiction film, starring Kurt Russell as Snake Plisskin, Lee Van Cleef (one of my favorite actors), Ernest Borgnine, Donald Pleasence, Isaac Hayes, Harry Dean Stanton and Adrienne Barbeau. A remake is being contemplated, but as long as this one is so watchable I don't know why they'd bother.


Moria praises the cast, especially Kurt Russell, saying of him that "his best work was always with John Carpenter and the finest of all his performances was here as Snake Plissken." Slant Magazine gives it 3 1/2 out of 4 stars. Empire Online says, "Boasting one of the most iconic characters ever in Plissken, and an effective sci-fi set-up, this is entertainment of the highest order." Time Out gives it 4 out of 5 stars. DVD Talk says,
there's something about Escape From New York now, even after the many "guy movies" that have been released since, which keeps it head and shoulders above the rest. ... whatever the reason, it has a devoted core audience that puts it at the top of a short list of cult films to watch on a Saturday night.
Roger Ebert doesn't appreciate this gem, and says, "Everything is here, and it all works fairly well, but it never quite comes together into an involving story or an overpowering adventure." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 83%.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto

Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto is the first film in the Samurai trilogy, directed by Hiroshi Inagaki and starring the great Toshiro Mifune. This is #14 in the Criterion film collection. It won best foreign film in the 1955 Academy Awards. This is an action-filled character study. Excellent story based on a historical figure.

fan trailer:

Rotten Tomatoes doesn't have a critics score, but the audience score is 84%. TCM has an overview.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Child in Time

The Child in Time is a 1987 Whitbread Prize-winning novel by Ian McEwan. It takes place in a near-future dystopia and deals with the relativity of time and the effect of deep personal loss on life and relationships. This has been a difficult read, dealing with loss as it does.

description from
Stephen Lewis, a successful writer of children's books, is confronted with the unthinkable: his only child, three-year-old Kate, is snatched from him in a supermarket. In one horrifying moment that replays itself over the years that follow, Stephen realizes his daughter is gone.With extraordinary tenderness and insight, Booker Prize–winning author Ian McEwan takes us into the dark territory of a marriage devastated by the loss of a child. Kate's absence sets Stephen and his wife, Julie, on diverging paths as they each struggle with a grief that only seems to intensify with the passage of time. Eloquent and passionate, the novel concludes in a triumphant scene of love and hope that gives full rein to the author's remarkable gifts. The winner of the Whitbread Prize, The Child in Time is an astonishing novel by one of the finest writers of his generation.
my favorite quotes:
Thre was no single action for which Stephen could generate a motive. He saw no point in being warm, or in having socks or teeth. He could carry out simple commands so long as he did not have to reflect on their rationale.
The constant urban rumble could not mitigate the burdensome silence that emanated from the carpet's deep pile, the fleecy towels on the wooden stand, the granite folds of the velvet curtain. Still dressed, he lay on his back on the bed. He was waiting for the pictures, the ones he could only dispel by jerking his head.
... however familiar, parents are also strangers to their children.
If he could live in the present he might breathe freely. But I don't like the present, he thought, and picked up his things.
He mentions the books of his adolescence, naming Hemingway, Chandler and Kerouac.

Several pieces of music are mentioned, including "a Bach partita". This is Bach Partita #1:

He also mentions the Schubert C major quintet, particularly the Adagio:

Kirkus Reviews calls this book "a work of remarkable intellectual and political sophistication--his most expansive and passionate fiction to date."

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


Winterhawk is a 1975 Western starring Leif Erickson (I know him best as Big John Cannon in the TV series The High Chaparral), Woody Strode, Denver Pyle, L.Q. Jones, Michael Dante, Elisha Cook, Jr (who was in an episode of Star Trek: The Original Series), Dawn Wells (better known as Mary Ann on the Gilligan's Island TV series) and Dennis Fimple.

This is a beautiful movie to watch. The plot is straightforward and interesting. The acting is good. The characterizations of both native tribespeoples and white traders and settlers avoid racist over-generalizations. Not that you should expect historical accuracy, mind you, and I found the soundtrack annoying; but it's an enjoyable modern Western.

Youtube has it with embedding disabled here.

trailer (in Italian?):

Roger Ebert likes it, saying, ""Winterhawk" is a traditional Western, simply and well told, almost old-fashioned in the clarity of its narrative." Rotten Tomatoes doesn't have any critics reviews but has an audience score of 60%. TCM has an overview and this synopsis:
The members of the Blackfoot tribe are dying from a smallpox epidemic, so their Chief Winterhawk goes off in search of a cure. On the way he is ambushed and in retaliation he later kidnaps two white men. The men come to respect Winterhawk, but a search party is hunthing for them and there is no telling what the outcome of the dangerous situation will be.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

T.S. Eliot began writing The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock in February of 1910 and first published it over 5 years later. You can read an annotated edition online here. Poor J. Alfred Prufrock longs to express his love, yet he does not dare.

This is one of those famous literary works that offers tea, including in this section:
And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep . . . tired . . . or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet—and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,

And in short, I was afraid.
How sad: the risk not taken, eternal regret.

Listen to Eliot reading it:

"I have measured out my life with coffee spoons."

Bleubeard and Elizabeth offer a way to connect with others on Tuesdays at this link at their blog.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The 100 Greatest SFF Novels of All Time

This Recording has a list of 100 SFF novels they say are the greatest of all time:
1. The Book of the Long Sun by Gene Wolfe
2. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein
3. The Dying Earth by Jack Vance
4. The Dispossessed by Ursula K. LeGuin
5. Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay
6. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
7. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
8. The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe
9. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin
10. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
11. Dune by Frank Herbert
12. Planet of Adventure by Jack Vance
13. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
14. All My Sins Remembered by Joe Haldeman
15. The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
16. The Master and the Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov (It's on my tbr stack.)
17. The Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay
18. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein
19. A Song of Ice And Fire by George R.R. Martin (I've read the first couple of books.)
20. The Fifth Head of Cerebus by Gene Wolfe
21. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
22. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
23. Lost Horizon by James Hilton
24. The Cadwal Chronicles by Jack Vance
25. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
26. 1984 by George Orwell
27. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
28. More Than Human by Theodore Sturgeon
29. Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov
30. A Fire Upon The Deep by Vernor Vinge
31. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
32. Citizen of the Galaxy by Robert Heinlein
33. The Hyperion Cantos by Dan Simmons
34. Ubik by Philip K. Dick
35. True Names by Vernor Vinge
36. Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein
37. Lyonesse by Jack Vance
38. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
39. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
40. Animal Farm by George Orwell
41. A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick
42. Farmer in the Sky by Robert Heinlein
43. Flatland by Edwin Abbott
44. The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
45. Alastor by Jack Vance
46. The Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson (I tried but couldn't make it through this series.)
47. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
48. The Demon Princes by Jack Vance
49. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand (I read Atlas Shrugged. That's enough Rand to last me.)
50. The Wizard Knight by Gene Wolfe
51. The Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin
52. Foundation by Isaac Asimov
53. The Forever War by Joe Haldeman
54. The Book of the Short Sun by Gene Wolfe
55. Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon (This is in my tbr stack.)
56. Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
57. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
58. Nightwings by Robert Silverberg
59. Forever Peace by Joe Haldeman
60. The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan (I read the first couple of books.)
61. The Book of Knights by Yves Maynard
62. Wildlife by James Patrick Kelly
63. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
64. At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft
65. A Song for Lya by George R.R. Martin
66. The High Crusade by Poul Anderson
67. The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson
68. The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov
69. Flow My Tears The Policeman Said by Philip K. Dick
70. The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
71. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
72. Maske: Thaery by Jack Vance
73. Old Man's War by John Scalzi
74. Schismatrix by Bruce Sterling
75. Ringworld by Larry Niven
76. Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke
77. Free Live Free by Gene Wolfe
78. Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan
79. Griffin's Egg by Michael Swanwick
80. Watership Down by Richard Adams
81. The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers
82. The Dragonriders of Pern by Anne McCaffrey
83. The Alteration by Kingsley Amis
84. Fevre Dream by George R.R. Martin
85. Sphere by Michael Crichton
86. A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter Miller
87. Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card
88. Song of Kali by Dan Simmons (on my tbr list)
89. Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner
90. Camp Concentration by Thomas Disch
91. Dhalgren by Samuel Delany
92. Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
93. An Evil Guest by Gene Wolfe
94. The Company by K.J. Parker
95. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
96. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
97. The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch
98. Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress
99. Sorcerer's Son by Phyllis Eisenstein
100. The Word For World Is Forest by Ursula K. LeGuin

The list is quite heavy on some authors (Wolfe and Vance, for example), a very idiosyncratic list. I've read 59 of these. Very few of the ones I haven't read are on my tbr radar.

via SF Signal

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Doomsday Machine

The Doomsday Machine (or Escape from Planet Earth) is a science fiction film. Production began in 1967, but the film wasn't completed until 1972. It was finished without the original actors or the original sets. As you can imagine, continuity errors abound. The ship is represented by something like 6 different images. Production quality is sad -or laughable depending on how you look at it. Sexism is rampant. These pitiful women are just helpless with anything except hair styles.

This is the first time I've ever seen throwing a cat to distract the guard dog as a way to infiltrate a military facility.

Grant Williams (The Incredible Shrinking Man) is one of the stars, though he doesn't get top billing. This was the last film released with him in it. Casey Kasem gets a co-starring credit. Mike Farrell is in the list of featured actors.

It takes them almost 30 minutes to get into space. And soon after:
Man: "Why don't you relax and enjoy it."

Woman, after passionate kiss: "You're very forceful, aren't you."

Man: "Do I need force?"

Woman: "I was talking about vibration."

Man: "Oh. How are yours doing?"
Oh, my.

The plot has a lot of these awkward sexual encounters, some more tasteless than others.

And there are unstable, screaming astronauts. You'd think those types would get screened out of the program.

from Wikipedia:
A spy discovers that the Chinese government has created a doomsday device capable of destroying the Earth, and it will be activated in 72 hours. Soon after, Astra –a two year return mission to Venus by the United States Space Program– has its time of launch sped up and half of the male flight crew are replaced by women shortly before take-off. Shortly before blastoff military alerts are put into effect.

via youtube:

Million Monkey Theater opens their review with this: "If there was ever a crappy, grade-z sci-fi stinker whose murky and bastardized provenance has been beat to death with the snarkystick, it's this film" and then provides a lengthy and snarky plot description. Stomp Tokyo closes its review saying, "Misery, of course, always loves company, so if you choose to seek out Doomsday Machine, I cannot stop you, but I felt that for the sake of my immortal soul, I had to at least try." DVD Talk says, "Hard-core science fiction movie fans should try and muster up the courage to experience Doomsday Machine at least once. All others will find it stupefyingly dull". Rotten Tomatoes has no critics score, but the audience rating is 5%. That's not a typo- the audience score is 5%.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Whom the Gods Love

Whom the Gods Love by Kate Ross is one of the Julian Kestrel mysteries. The action takes place in Regency-era England. There will be no more in this series, as the author died of breast cancer in 1998 at the age of 41.

Historical fiction was a favorite of mine in junior high and high school (favorite authors were Thomas B. Costain and James Michener), but I haven't read much in that genre since. I picked up 2 of Kate Ross' Kestrel books in a used book store because she had won the Agatha Award for 1 of them. I enjoyed the setting, characters and writing, and I'll be on the look-out for the other 2 in this series.

from the back of the book:
Alexander Falkland hasn't an enemy in the world. Young, talented, and charming, he shines in every field he enters: law, architecture, the investment market. But one night his luck runs out with a vengeance. In the midst of one of his famous parties, he is found in his study with his head smashed, a blood-stained poker beside him. No wonder the inscription on his gravestone reads: Whom the Gods Love Die Young.

When the Bow Street Runners fail to solve the crime, Alexander's distraught father turns to Julian Kestrel, elegant dandy and intrepid amateur sleuth. Soon Kestrel is up to his ears in suspects -and enigmas. Who was Alexander really? Social reformer or butterfly, devoted husband or rake? Kestrel must peel off one mask after another, until at last he discovers an Alexander no one knew -except, perhaps, the killer.
favorite quotes:
"I'm inclined to think," said Julian slowly, "that people are responsible for themselves. I know a father's influence is far-reaching. I'm very much the product of my own father's upbringing. But I think, as Shelley said, a man must rule the empire of himself. ..."
Kirkus Reviews calls it "An 1825 remake of Death on the Nile, with enough time for red herrings and subplots aplenty".

I have also read the 4th one: The Devil in Music.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

The Lone Gun

The Lone Gun is one of many little-known westerns from the 50s. This one stars Dorothy Malone and George Montgomery, so it's not lacking in star power. Montgomery was an interesting man with diverse interests. In addition to acting, he was a skilled wood-worker who ran a furniture business. He was also a self-taught sculptor who worked with bronze. He died in 2000 at age 84. I first saw Dorothy Malone with Humphrey Bogart in The Big Sleep. Her last film was Basic Instinct in 1992, but she's still alive, so maybe she'll appear in another film yet. Frank Faylen is also here. I remember him best from the Dobie Gillis tv show. He played Dobie Gillis' long-suffering dad. (I watched that show for beatnik Maynard G. Krebbs.)

onscreen as the movie starts:
The history of any frontier region... such as the great expanses of the new state of Texas.... offered many examples of the strange way in which a few men of great evil could dominate whole communities of well-meaning but passive citizens...

...And examples, too, of men of a different breed... men who rode out alone for law and order with badges on their vests and handcuffs in their pockets... playing a lone gun against great odds.

via youtube:

The Stalking Moon reports it as considered one of Montgomery's best.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Bluff City Coffee

The Daughter and I walked down to Bluff City Coffee on one of our downtown excursions. They have food there (menus online), but we had just eaten lunch so weren't hungry. We had coffee instead. She had an Americano, and I had a double espresso:

Their espresso is very good. I couldn't have asked for better. They had nice seating inside, but we sat outside it was such a pretty day.

A couple passed by, and the man commented that we had been seeing each other all over downtown that day. He asked me where we were from, and I said, "Here!" He laughed. I think we look like tourists when we take pictures of everything. While The Daughter and I were sitting at our table we watched a man taking pictures. Then we saw another man take a picture of him while he was taking a picture. Then I took a picture of the both of them while they were taking their pictures:

We were all 3 documenting photography in Memphis. I lost sight of the 2nd photographer, but the 1st one got into a car with Shelby County tags, so my guess is we were all local. Fun!

The Memphis Foodie blog likes this coffee shop. The I Love Memphis blog has instructions for making their brownies. Yelp gives Bluff City Coffee 4 out of 5 stars with 48 reviews. Urban Spoon gives them a score of 92% with 105 votes.

Join the others at Bleubeard and Elizabeth's link haven for T-Tuesday.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Going Back to Memphis

Going Back to Memphis:

by the Memphis Jug Band, a jazz band featuring jug and kazoo that was active from the mid-1920s through the late 1950s.

I'm leaving here, mama, don't you wanna go
I'm leaving here, mama, don't you wanna go
Because I'm sick and tired of all this ice and snow

When I get back to Memphis, you can bet I'll stay
When I get back to Memphis, you can bet I'll stay
And I ain't gonna leave until that judgment day

I love old Memphis, the place where I was born
I love old Memphis, the place where I was born
Wear my box-back suit, and drink my bottle of corn

I wrote my gal a letter, way down in Tennessee
I wrote my gal a letter, way down in Tennessee
Told her I was up here hungry, hurry up and send for me

I'm gonna walk and walk 'til I walk out all my shoes
I'm gonna walk and walk 'til I walk out all my shoes
Because I've got what they call them leaving here blues

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Cancer Sucks!

Specifically non-Hodgkins Lymphoma sucks. I don't have it, but a family member does, and the fact that it's curable is the only bright spot. Admittedly, that's a hugely blindingly bright bright spot! It's a shame when you have a cure that makes you feel worse before it cures you, but it's such a blessing that it does cure you. We're feeling extremely grateful for that right now.

An online chapel with a 20-minute guided contemplative prayer video is here at Sometimes I find it helpful.

Oddly, I keep worrying about how I'm going to keep Mother from finding out. Since Mother died about 4 months ago, this makes no sense at all.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Happy Tabletop Day!

Tabletop Day is here! I know I still have my Trophy of Awesome around here somewhere, but if I can't find it I can print off another one.

I kinda looked around last year but found no local events. This year I see there's an all day International Tabletop Day celebration at the University of Memphis. This event is co-sponsored by the Memphis Role Playing Association and the Mid-South Board Gaming Club. We'll probably just play at home since the site warns about limited space and a first-come first-served policy that makes me think it'll be too crowded to suit me.

Here's the flyer for the local event:

The main board games I remember playing as a child were Yahtzee, Monopoly, Checkers, Tic-Tac-Toe, Chinese Checkers, Clue, and Parcheesi. I liked cards so much, Daddy taught me solitaire when I was fairly young so I could play cards when he got tired of it. When my kids were growing up, they enjoyed the same games, and we added some new ones along the way. We don't play games much any more. I'm not sure why that is, but TableTop is a good influence on me. I've discovered some new games through them.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Brimstone and Treacle

Brimstone and Treacle is a 1976 horror teleplay starring Michael Kitchen as a demon in human form. Denholm Elliott stars as the father of a young woman rendered helpless by an accident. Considered too disturbing to air, it wasn't televised until 1987. This is another film which shows the striking effect a stranger can have on the lives of the unsuspecting -never quite what you would expect.

BFI Screen Online says this "darkly comic religious fable remains powerful without ever being gratuitous." says, "Brimstone and Treacle is a product of the time in which it was made, but because it was never transmitted at the time it should have been, sadly it can never be truly assessed as social commentary." Fright calls it " A deeply subversive essay on the allure—and possible beneficial effects—of evil, it’s a dark and provocative treat...."

It was remade with Sting in the Michael Kitchen role in 1982.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Caliban's War

Caliban's War is 2nd in the Expanse trilogy by James S. A. Corey, which is the pen name of 2 authors working in concert on this creative endeavor. This space opera is great fun -solid, engaging fun. The world-building includes everything I wanted, and characters were diverse and nicely filled-out. The plot included inter-personal relationships, political intrigue and action -something for everybody. I'm looking forward to the 3rd (which is ready on my shelf) and am hoping this author collaboration continues to write. Do read these in order; this is a trilogy in the traditional sense.

from the back of the book:

On Ganymede, breadbasket of the outer planets, a Martian marine watches as her platoon is slaughtered by a monstrous supersoldier. On Earth, a high-level politician struggles to prevent inter-planetary war. And on Venus, an alien protomolecule has overrun the planet, wreaking massive, mysterious changes and threatening to spread out into the solar system.

In the vast wilderness of space, James Holden and the crew of the Rocinante have been keeping the peace for the Outer Planets Alliance. When they agree to help a scientist search war-torn Ganymede for a missing child, the future of humanity rests on whether a single ship can prevent an alien invasion that may have already begun...
SF Signal calls it "solidly entertaining space opera". Kirkus Reviews describes it as "Part two of the topnotch space opera begun with Leviathan Wakes". The Little Red Reviewer praises it, saying, "the plotting, pacing, characterization and dialog are spot on perfect. Striking a balance between space opera, adventure, and horror, if you’re looking for a new science fiction series to get hooked on, look no further because this is it." Wired closes its review with this:
Great characters, excellent dialogue, memorable fights, freakish experiments, and twisty-turny mysteries — sometimes you’re lucky to get a few of those in a good book series. Only an excellent book series can pull them all off, and The Expanse will definitely be added to the short list of science fiction tales that manage to do so.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

A Man, a Horse, a Gun

A Man, a Horse, a Gun is a 1967 spaghetti western. Oh, I do hope I never run out of spaghetti westerns! This one stars Tony Anthony in the 2nd of the 4 Stranger movies. Dan Vadis, Marco Guglielmi and Ettore Manni are also in this film. The score is by Stelvio Cipriani and adds a lot to the watching of the movie. I'm unfamiliar with this series, but after seeing this one I'll be looking for all of them.

via youtube: calls it "an enjoyable story of greed, double cross and violence presented with odd humour and taciturn dialogues."

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

April Fools Day

This may be my least favorite day of the year. I truly do hate April Fools' Day! I grew up dreading it not because of the tricks the kids at school would play (I mean how upset can you get over, "Your slip is showing," "There's a spider on you," and such). No, I hated it because my mother took an odd glee in the day. And somehow I always fell for it.

One year she woke me up telling me my favorite cousins had come during the night and were sleeping in the living room. I was so excited! I rushed to the living room to the tune of laughter and "April Fool!"

Every year she got me.

Once after I married, in the days before cell phones, she called me to tell me she had tried to drive up to see us but had gotten lost on the way. At the time, we lived off of a road that was off of a rural 2-lane highway. We lived way out in the middle of nowhere, and getting lost out there would not have been hard to do. Mother said she had found a pay phone but had no idea where she was. Lost and confused, she said she had used her last coin to call me and didn't see any sign of people and no sign of civilization other than the pay phone she was using. I was headed out the door in tears to look for her before she finally said, "April Fool". She had never left her house.

I just never learned! I'm a bit slow on the uptake, ya think?

That was the year I told her I would never again see or talk to her in person or on the phone on that day. She was honestly dumbfounded -for her it was just funny little gags- but I had reached the point where I didn't want to play that game any more. I prefer jokes that we share. She had a good sense of humor, but on this type of joke we were definitely at odds.

One of the pacts The Husband and I made early on was No April Fool Jokes Of Any Kind. Call me a fuddy-duddy stick-in-the-mud if you will, but we still abide by it.

And so, on this day I offer you a soothing cup of chamomile tea and nothing else. No tricks, no jokes, no stress, no nothing except that soothing cuppa. I'm hiding from the jokesters today, Folks; and my tea and I are in a secure, undisclosed location. Shhhhh

Enjoy your beverage -with or without tricks as suits you best- in peace with Bleubeard and Elizabeth's T(ea) Tuesday linky.