Sunday, August 31, 2014

Walkin' in Memphis...

but this time we were nowhere near Beale. The Daughter and I drove out to Shelby Farms Park to the trail head of the Greenline, a project that's transforming abandoned railroads into bike/pedestrian trails.

Starting at this end may not be the best idea if you aren't going to walk the entire 6 1/2 mile stretch. There's precious little shade at this end. There are some flowers, though:

Two different people warned me about snakes as I was taking those pictures, but I'm honestly not worried about snakes. I was making plenty of noise, and I was not off the trail in the flowers. The first person acted so shocked at my response that I just said, "Thank you," to the second.

The trail crosses the Wolf River:

There's some woodland:

and even more water:

and what looks like the beginnings of a "love locks" bridge:

but the one in France collapsed from the weight, so let's not get too carried away.

We ran into some construction on/over the trail:

There were signs instructing cyclists to dismount when traveling through the construction zone, but not a single one did. In fact the cyclists were, with very few exceptions, very rude, speeding by within touching distance. The few who said, "On your left," as they approached were refreshing. The entitled bastard who yelled, "Get back!" as he raced past leaving us reeling in his wake was more typical. It's not like we were hogging the trail; we were clearly occupying less than half of it, staying as far to the right as possible. I swear, I'm beginning to believe that "cyclists" is to "pedestrians" as "car drivers" is to "cyclists". They complain about the exact same abuse from car drivers that they then turn around and heap on pedestrians.

Ah, well, all I can do is try to obey the road rules as they apply to me and try to treat my fellow travellers with some kindness and courtesy. I'm not sure why I resent the cyclists' rudeness so much. Maybe it's because they do complain so much about their treatment by folks in cars.

We found one piece of public art (though this may be no more than simple tagging graffiti) on this section of the greenline:

We stopped at this intersection:

which was about 2 1/2 miles in. We'll start here next time. We're hoping for more shade the further west we go. This trail is used by commuters and fitness walkers and explorers -pedestrians and cyclists alike. It really is a wonderful addition to the city.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Doctor Who Cosplay

The Daughter, The Younger Son and I were quite excited about the theater showing of the new Doctor Who episode premier. We love Capaldi for the role, and -even though we don't get a TV channel that airs the series- we faithfully follow the news online and buy the DVDs as soon as they're released. I've been a fan since back in the day when the series aired on PBS. We wanted to be a part of this.

It was assumed we would go dressed appropriately for the experience. The Daughter and I each dressed as The Doctor we consider our own, and The Son went as Captain Jack. My garb was accumulated from several Goodwill store trips around town, except for the scarf (purchased from the Doctor Who rack at the local Spin Street) and the hat (Stein Mart). I feel like I hit the jackpot with this combination. I love the jacket.

This is the Fourth Doctor look I was trying to imitate:

The look I achieved is at the top of the post. Not bad, right?

The Daughter wore this dress from Hot Topic with red high-top Converse shoes to be the Tenth Doctor:

and combined it with the fez. Yes, the fez, which her Doctor does put on in one of his scenes. In fact, there's a fez connection to several of the Doctors.

The Younger Son found the perfect thrift store coat, changed the buttons from navy to gold and added some stripes to the shoulders and was transformed into Captain Jack Harkness. He went with the vest instead of suspenders.

We all had such great fun. There were other people who also came in themed attire: a couple of people dressed as the TARDIS, there were a few Tenth Doctors. The only drawback was the distance. We drove to Little Rock, Arkansas, for the show, which was our closest option. Why, oh why, didn't they offer this in Memphis?

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Secret of Roan Inish

The Secret of Roan Inish is a 1994 John Sayles film about selkies, tragic creatures who live most of their lives as seals but who can shed their skins to appear as humans. It's a sad story -lost children, lost culture, hope delayed and beautifully told.


Moria praises the performances. Rolling Stone says, "Alive with beauty, spirit and wit, Roan Inish is pure magic." Spirituality & Practice calls it a "lyrical film" and says, "The delicate and parabolic story speaks volumes about the spiritual longing for home and the deep meanings which can be conveyed by family stories, communication with animals, and a magical connection with a place." Time Out says, "Tales within tales, a subtle sense of economic and social realities, fine landscape photography and strong performances make for an engrossing, unusual fantasy." Empire Online gives it 4 out of 5 stars and says, "Not so much a children's film as an adult film in which the children and animals are graceful presences, this is a charming, genuinely moving gem". EW gives it a B+ and says, "Only when the last seal has looked squarely into the camera do you realize how notably unsentimental and casually magical Inish is". DVD Verdict says, "It is rare to find a movie so simple yet so beautifully complex and one that can be enjoyed by everyone, no matter what generation they come from." Roger Ebert gives it 3 1/2 out of 4 stars and says,
Of course this is a wonderful "family film," if that term has not been corrupted to mean simpleminded and shallow. Children deserve not lesser films but greater ones, because their imaginations can take in larger truths and bigger ideas.... It is also for adults, of course, except for those who think they do not want to see a film about anything so preposterous as a seal-woman, and who will get what they deserve.
Rotten Tomatoes has a critics review of 98%.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Hunt for Red October

The Hunt for Red October is Tom Clancy's 1984 debut novel, a thriller made into a Sean Connery film in 1990. The film was faithful to the spirit of the book but was much simpler with many fewer sub-plots and plot elements. The book was enjoyable and an interesting, easy read.

from the back of the book:
Somewhere under the Atlantic, a Soviet sub commander has just made a fateful decision. The Red October is heading west.

The Americans want her. The Russians want her back. And the most incredible chase in history is on...

Here is the runaway bestseller that launched Tom Clancy's phenomenal career. A military thriller so gripping in its action and so convincing in its accuracy that the author was rumored to have been debriefed by the White House, Its theme: The greatest espionage coup in history. Its story: The chase for a top secret Russian missile sub. It's title: The Hunt for Red October.
Memphis Reads closes its review with this: "The story keeps the reader on edge from beginning to end, and gives an inside view of U.S. intelligence operations and executive decision making. Adventure readers are sure to enjoy this submarine drama." The Washington Post calls it "a tremendously enjoyable and gripping novel of naval derring-do".

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Courtesy Counts

Walking downtown recently, we saw this sign. Nearby we saw 2 examples that seem to illustrate the point. Instead of fussy "no littering" signs, someone has placed these:

We got such a kick out of this wonderfully courteous way of reminding people of how to be courteous.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Tamp & Tap

I had been to Tamp & Tap before (I had their espresso that time), but The Daughter had never been. Earlier this summer we went so she could see what it was like. We got pour over coffee, and The Daughter got raspberry biscotti:

We like their cups. This was the first time I've had pour over coffee out anywhere, and I must say it was as good as I had hoped. I'm seeing it on more menus lately, so I guess it's the new "thing". I'm on board with it! We sat on their patio people-watching. There was a woman parked around the corner unloading her car. We thought she might be moving into Van Vleet Flats. I think it would be great fun to live downtown. I'm not sure where the closest decent-sized grocery store would be, but that's the only drawback I can see to living downtown.

Please join the Tea Tuesday gathering hosted by Bleubeard and Elizabeth, where's there's talk of tisanes among a variety of other topics..

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Rich Man and the Poor Man

The Rich Man and the Poor Man:

by Bob Miller, native Memphian, who died on August 26 in 1955.

There's just two kind of people, the sinner and the saint;
There's one that gets and always got while the other poor one ain't.
Oh, the rich man drives his Lincoln past the red light with a grin,
And the poor man follows right behind in his little hunk of tin.
There's a motorcycle copper following upon their trail;
Oh, the rich man tears his ticket, but the poor man goes to jail.
Oh, the rich man takes the high road anywhere that he may go,
But when the poor man's travelin' he must always take the low.
So if you're rich you'll travel snug as peas are in the pod;
Oh, the rich man rides a cushion and the poor man rides the rods.

Oh, the rich man when he's ailing stays at home and calls the doc,
But the poor man has to go to work, be in time to punch a clock.
The rich man takes his medicine, has his doctors and his nurse;
So the rich man he gets better but the poor man he gets worse!

Oh, the rich man steals a million from the bank that he controls,
While the poor man steals a loaf of bread or a penny's worth of rolls.
They take them to the courthouse, one is laughing, one's in tears;
Oh, the rich man gets an apology while the poor man gets ten years!

Oh, the rich man gets a lawyer and the lawyer pleads his case,
While the poor man asks for sympathy but of that there is no trace.
So if you're rich don't worry but the poor must give up hope;
Oh, the rich man gets acquitted while the poor man gets the rope!

Oh, the rich man when he kicks off has a casket made of gold,
While the poor man has a wooden box and his grave looks mighty cold.
The rich man gets a sermon but here's one thing that's sure,
When the rich man takes that last long ride he's as much dead as the poor!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

300 (film)

300. Ah, 300. I had seen this film before, of course, but it's just such great fun watching all these nearly-naked warriors battle those whatever-they-are. I'll skip the sequel unless somebody puts in the DVD while I'm sitting here anyway.

In honor of the film, I share this "It's Raining 300 Men" tribute:

"We're in for one wild night."
ah oo! ah oo! ah oo!

or, if you just can't get enough, here's the full version:

lyrics excerpt:
It's raining men
It's raining men

I'm gonna go out
I'm gonna let myself get
Absolutely soaking wet

It's raining men
It's raining men
Every specimen

Tall, blonde, dark, and lean
Rough, and tough, and strong, and mean

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Robots in the Streets of Memphis

Literally in the street, painted on pedestrian crosswalks downtown.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The 10th Victim

The 10th Victim is a 1965 science fiction film, starring Marcello Mastroianni and Ursula Andress. It's an Italian/French co-production. from Wikipedia:
In the near future, big wars are avoided by giving individuals with violent tendencies a chance to kill in the Big Hunt. The Hunt is the most popular form of entertainment in the world and also attracts participants who are looking for fame and fortune. It includes ten rounds for each competitor, five as the hunter and five as the victim. The survivor of ten rounds becomes extremely wealthy and retires.
Incredibly dated, but the satire still works. The version embedded below is dubbed in English.

via Daily Motion:

Slant Magazine gives it 4 out of 5 stars, calls it "a pop-art melting pot," and says, "Elio Petri's trenchant social satire, co-written by the director and frequent Antonioni collaborator Tonino Guerra, takes aim at consumer capitalism and the society of the spectacle". DVD Talk calls it "a clever and insightful satire on modern morality and Western culture's fascination for violence." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 83%.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Open House

Open House is a 2000 novel by Elizabeth Berg. It was an Oprah book club choice. It was adapted for TV in 2003. The story is a sad one of a woman working her way through a difficult abandonment, but there's a happy ending filled with hope.

description from
Samantha's husband has left her, and after a spree of overcharging at Tiffany's, she settles down to reconstruct a life for herself and her eleven-year-old son. Her eccentric mother tries to help by fixing her up with dates, but a more pressing problem is money. To meet her mortgage payments, Sam decides to take in boarders. The first is an older woman who offers sage advice and sorely needed comfort; the second, a maladjusted student, is not quite so helpful. A new friend, King, an untraditional man, suggests that Samantha get out, get going, get work. But her real work is this: In order to emerge from grief and the past, she has to learn how to make her own happiness. In order to really see people, she has to look within her heart. And in order to know who she is, she has to remember--and reclaim--the person she used to be, long before she became someone else in an effort to save her marriage. Open House is a love story about what can blossom between a man and a woman, and within a woman herself.
selected quotes:
Divorce is a series of internal earthquakes, that's what it is, one after the other.
I was thinking that gratitude is too much absent in our lives now, and we need it back, even if it only takes the form of acknowledging the blue of a bowl against the red of cranberries.
You live your life, and you get to ask for things, and sometimes they are given to you.
I get out of bed and onto my knees, bow my head. Somewhere, a couple lie in bed together holding hands, and they will stay together until one of them dies. They will not hate each other over the breakfast table, they will give thanks for each other's presence. Somewhere that is true. This is my prayer.
There's an Elvis reference on page 64:
The man leans the bed frame gently against the wall, then extends his hand. "My name is King."
I laugh. "It is?"
"Honest to God. My parents were ... different."
"Well," I say. "I'm sorry for laughing. It's just, you know ... Graceland."
and a coffee reference I got a kick out of on page 71:
Now I sit with a fourth cup of coffee, feeling my heart beat too fast and not caring. Maybe this is a good way to kill yourself: an exuberant overdose of caffeine..."
Memphis Reads describes it as "a winsome and witty first-person narrative about a woman rediscovering herself, and finding, in turn, that there is indeed life and love after divorce." Kirkus Reviews closes by saying, "Skillfully crafted, with a fluidity and snap that will delight Berg's fans but, when all is said and done, a distressingly familiar story." Publishers Weekly opens their review with this: "A middle-aged woman asks herself if there's life after divorce, then answers with a resounding yes in another of Berg's gentle tales of female self-discovery."

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

National Civil Rights Museum

The Daughter and I had never been to The National Civil Rights Museum, even though I grew up in Memphis and was downtown when Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. For me it always seemed a hard thing -to tour the site where it happened. They've recently done a major renovation and added new exhibits, and it seemed like maybe it was time to explore the place.

Coming up towards the front of the museum:

There are stations with audio and video in front of the motel in the area where the swimming pool used to be. As you enter the motel the history begins with displays about Africans brought to North, Central and South America as slaves. Then there's an overview film.

The exhibits which cover the history of post-Civil War re-construction and Jim Crow laws in the South are detailed. They include full-sized statues, a bus like the one Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of (and which you can sit in), a lunch counter like the ones where the sit-ins took place, a re-creation of the cell in Birmingham where MLK served time and wrote the famous letter, photographs of children killed in bombings of churches.... There's really too much there to name. Suitable audio interpretation, actual historical recordings, and re-enactments accompany most exhibits. They permit non-flash photography, but my camera sometimes doesn't listen to me when I turn off the flash so I didn't risk it.

The museum continues through history until you reach the garbage strike which brought King to Memphis. You can view the room he stayed in and the room across the hall where others with him stayed. You can see outside to the balcony where he fell.

The tour is a powerful one.

Across the street is the Legacy Museum:

and that's the place the assassin shot from. You can see a re-creation of the room the killer rented there and the bathroom window he shot from. That's the creepiest part of the whole experience.

Here's an MSNBC report of the re-opening:

Here's a report on the origin and preservation of the motel and the beginnings of the museum that has images and video of some of the exhibits, including King's room and the view from the shooter's window:

This museum is well worth the trip. We spent 2 1/2 hours and could easily spend that much time again. It's a powerful and inspirational experience.

Across the street is an ongoing 26+ years protest:

She claims the museum glorifies King's killer and that the money should go to more directly help the poor. The money, of course, is not available for other purposes, having been donated and set aside specifically for this historical/interpretative/educational site. Ms. Jacqueline Smith did not live in the motel when MLK stayed there, moving there in the early 1970s, but she was the last resident of the motel and was evicted so the museum could be opened. She has strong convictions and is willing to share them with visitors.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sometimes Forever Is Too Long

... like when you go to a nice little restaurant named Petra Cafe, and they give you your drink in a styrofoam cup. That cup will be around as long or longer than the ancient city of Petra has been. Sheesh.

Petra Cafe is one of 4 cute little restaurants by that name, and this one in the Sanderlin Center is the closest one to us. The Daughter and I met The Husband there for lunch one day early in the summer. The styrofoam cups hit me hard for some reason, so I won't demean T Tuesday by mentioning the drinks. The Husband had the Pisa Paninni, and The Daughter and I each had the Turkey Pita:

The food was wonderful! I thought the red peppers were perfect! The waitress was welcoming and charming. You can see the lunch menu here. Our total was over $35. I've already decided what I want when we go back, but I may bring my own glass. (Not really, but I do hate styrofoam cups.)

Go Memphis has a positive review. Yelp gives it 5 out of 5 stars.

For dessert The Daughter and I headed back to Casablanca Cafe. We've eaten there before, but this time we specifically planned on having their Turkish Coffee and dessert. I had the baklava, and The Daughter had the chocolate mousse:

The desserts were both very tasty. I didn't much care for the coffee. It had flavoring of some sort, but we couldn't tell what. sweetening, of course, but something else, too. This Wikipedia article says cardamom or pistachio grains are sometimes used. Maybe that was it. It was interesting, and I'm glad I tried it, but I won't get that again.

T Tuesdays are a friendly gathering of women who drink (and most often craft) hosted at Bleubeard and Elizabeth's place. Feel free to join in. They make everybody feel welcome over there.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Cross Road Blues

August 16th is most often remembered as the anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley -at least for folks who don't subscribe to the Elvis Lives theory- but it is also the anniversary of the death in 1938 of Robert Johnson, who also lived and recorded in Memphis. In observance of the anniversary 2 days ago of the death that is undisputed:

Cross Road Blues, by Robert Johnson.

I went to the crossroad, fell down on my knees
I went to the crossroad, fell down on my knees
Asked the Lord above "Have mercy now, save poor Bob, if you please"

Standin' at the crossroad I tried to flag a ride
I tried to flag a ride
Ain't nobody seem to know me, baby, everybody pass me by

Standin' at the crossroad, baby, risin' sun goin' down
Standin' at the crossroad, baby, risin' sun goin' down
I believe to my soul, now, poor Bob is sinkin' down

You can run, you can run, tell my friend Willie Brown
You can run, you can run, tell my friend Willie Brown
That I got the crossroad blues, my Lord, and I believe I'm sinkin' down

And I went to the crossroad, mama, I looked east and west
I went to the crossroad, babe, I looked east and west
Lord, I didn't have no sweet woman, ooo well, babe, in my distress

And about that Elvis Lives "thing": offers proof!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

"Please Help"

said the poor little parking meter, abandoned on the street.

The Daughter and I saw it on Main Street in downtown Memphis one afternoon. It had been cast aside in favor of newer, fancier meters that can accept credit cards. Alas! Poor parking meter, going from gainful employment to a life of begging by the roadside. Oh, wait. Isn't begging by the roadside what parking meters do? Never mind. I no longer have any sympathy for the parking meter.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Down by Law

Down by Law is a 1986 Jim Jarmusch film. Tom Waits has a role. It deals with the relationships among 3 strangers as they are arrested, imprisoned and then escape from the same prison. I thoroughly enjoyed this. It's a quiet film that takes you along with it.


Slant Magazine gives it 3 1/2 out of 5 stars and says, "Divorcing New Orleans from its stereotypes (there's no ham-fisted Creole dialogue, no digs at the indigenous cuisine), the filmmaker imagines the boiling, boggy city as a purgatory for lost souls, spotted with cinephiliac mold." DVD Talk says, "It's a quiet, peculiar little movie that occasionally jumps at you unexpectedly". EW says, "Jarmusch is more interested in the journey than the destination." Roger Ebert calls it "a true original that kind of grows on you" and says, "it's a good movie, and the more you know about movies, the more you're likely to like it." It has a critics score of 88% at Rotten Tomatoes, and the audience score is even higher.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Red Shift

Red Shift is a 1978 BBC Play for Today episode based on a novel by Alan Garner. The series also produced but never aired Brimstone and Treacle because of controversy over its content. The series was cancelled in 1984. It's said to be remembered for its high quality and the conservatives' suspicion of its political agenda.

This episode is about three men from different historical periods (a 1970s young man in love and struggling against his parents, a Roman soldier of the lost Ninth Legion, and a young married man defending his town and church during the English Civil War) who are somehow connected at points of extreme stress in their lives.

via youtube:

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Abaddon's Gate

Abaddon's Gate, by tandem author James S. A. Corey, is the 3rd book in the Expanse series, and I am loving these.

from the back of the book:
Break on through.

For generations, the solar system -Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt- was humanity's great frontier. Until now. The alien artifact working through its program under the clouds of Venus has appeared in Uranus's orbit, where it has built a massive gate that leads to a starless space beyond.

Jim Holden and the crew of the Rocinante are part of a vast flotilla of scientific and military ships going out to examine the artifact. But behind the scenes, a complex plot is unfolding, with the destruction of Holden at its core. As the emissaries of the human race try to decide whether the gate is an opportunity or a threat, the greatest danger is the one they brought with them.
A Methodist pastor figures prominently in the plot.

favorite quotes:
It was a lesson he'd never forgotten. That humans only have so much emotional energy. No matter how intense the situation, or how powerful the feelings, it was impossible to maintain the heightened emotional state forever. Eventually you'd just get tired and want it to end.
Anna knew quite a few members on the Latter-day Saints church. They agreed with the Methodists on a few minor things like not drinking alcohol, which gave them a sense of solidariy at inter-faith conventions. They disagreed on some important things, like the nature of God and His plan for the universe, which didn't seem to matter as much as Anna would have thought.
It had occurred to Anna then that there really wasn't any such thing as a "mixed"church group. No matter what they looked like, or what they chose to call Him, when a group of people called out to God together, they were one. Even if there was no God, or one God, or many gods, it didn't matter. Faith, hope, and love, Paul had written, but the greatest of these is love.
God might not care about financial standing, but He was the only one.
And I'm pleased at the optimism that assumes that in the far distant future at the edge of the known, there'll still be coffee:
"Well," Holden said, his voice grim, "we have a major problem. We're out of coffee."
"We still got beer," Amos said.
"Yes," Holden said. "But beer is not coffee."
I'm much less pleased that God is always without exception considered male.

SFF World closes by saying,
this is an exciting, thrill-ride of a read that matches up nicely with previous two novels in the series and keeps you entertained until the very end. Most of all, Abaddon’s Gate’s winning point is that, in the end, it is about the human characters and their dilemmas that keep you reading.
The Little Red Reviewer says,
Abaddon’s Gate delivers everything fans of the Expanse series have come to expect – exquisite action scenes, huge spaceships and distances, ambitious and intricate plotting, main characters with robust and hidden depths, and some fucking terrifying alien technologies. ... The Expanse series is one of the best things to happen to science fiction in the last five years,
io9 says, "Taken together, Leviathan Wakes, Caliban's War and Abaddon's Gate are an explosive, exciting adventure that blasts the hinges off the doors and keeps going." Publishers Weekly closes with this: "Politics, philosophical ideas, and humor mingle in a tale that will shock and surprise. New readers should start with book one; series fans will find this installment the best yet." The series has its own Wiki.

It adds something to the reading to know the religious meaning of the word Abaddon.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Montgomery Bell State Park Bakers Cemetery Trail

The Husband started out on this trail, but he turned back about 15 minutes in. "Don't Push It" -that's our motto. The trail was along an old Railway.

The trail was loud with crows, and we saw turkey feathers on the trail but didn't see the birds themselves. It was an easy walk.

We were honestly expecting there to be more to the cemetery, which is overgrown and poorly maintained:

Near the entrance is a Civil War historical sign: