Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Holding Onto Summer

Earlier in the summertime, when we could begin to count on high temps in the 80sF, The Daughter and I had some English Breakfast tea on the patio. She had brought some fun cookies: Marinela Polvorones Shortbread Orange Cookies and Marinela Canelitas Cinnamon Cookies. I like them both, but I like the orange ones better.

It's sweet to have such good memories, a summertime made up of warm days and warm companionship -time spent with family and friends- to tide me over the frigid wasteland that is winter. Well, that may be a bit dramatic, ya think? but I'll so miss the summer once it's gone. I'll be making happy memories through all the seasons, but ah! the time spent on the patio is special!

Please join the T(ea) Party over at Bluebeard and Elizabeth's blog, where I'm sharing this tea-related post.

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Little Mermaid

Not the Hans Christian Andersen story (online here), and certainly not the happy/sappy Disney version, this is a horror story:

via youtube:

and very, very sad.

The Little Mermaid is a short film directed by Nicholas Humphries.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Hart's War

Hart's War is a 1999 novel by John Katzenbach. This author was recommended to me by The Younger Son in response to my opinion that the Baldacci book I read was dreck. He loaned me 2 Katzenbach books, and this is the second one. Both have been entertaining and readable, and I'll pick up more by this author as I come across them. A nice change from Baldacci's The Forgotten, which I didn't like at all.

from the back of the book:
The world is at war. Two men -one white, one black- find themselves in extraordinary circumstances, confined with the enemy, struggling to preserve a shred of dignity against impossible odds. They thought survival was their only purpose -until they realized that living means nothing without the truth. And when murder explodes the precarious order of their lives, they become unlikely allies in a monstrous fight for honor and justice. With these complex, vivid characters, John Katzenbach has written a thrilling, edge-of-your-seat novel, the most acclaimed of his career....

The Bruce Willis film by the same name was based on this book (though somewhat loosely, as I recall).

Kirkus Reviews claims this may be the author's best.

Saturday, September 27, 2014


Elysium is a 2013 dystopian science fiction thriller film starring Matt Damon and Jodi Foster. The wealthy live in a utopian environment in orbit around Earth, where illegal immigrants are shot down as they approach. The poor live in desperation on the Earth's surface, where resources, including jobs and medical care, are rare and limited. Sound familiar? That's the only complaint I have about this movie: it's vision is a bit heavy-handed. Visually it's brilliant, the casting is perfect, plotting was good, and I cared about the characters. Directed by Neill Blomkamp, who also directed District 9. I'd love to see him direct a movie that someone else wrote. Maybe we'd get the perfect film without the heavy-handed social commentary. That said, I did thoroughly enjoy this film. I found District 9 unwatchable.


Moria says it had high hopes of a deeper story, but "all that we end up with is a bigger-budgeted version of Lockout (2012)". Rolling Stone gives it 3 out of 4 stars and says, "Elysium delivers sci-fi without dumbing it down. It's a hell-raiser with a social conscience." Empire Online gives it 4 out of 5 stars and concludes, "Not perfect, but a much more satisfying Earth-in-ruins film than Oblivion or After Earth. It is a little more conventional than District 9 (what isn’t?), but confirms Blomkamp as one of the potential science-fiction greats of this decade." EW gives it a B+ and says, "Elysium confirms the talent — for razory mayhem and shocking satire, for the crazed spectacle of future decay — that Blomkamp showcased in his amazing first feature, District 9 (2009)." Roger Ebert's site says, "...it's weirdly refreshing to watch a film that seeks new ways to repackage "Mad Max," "Blade Runner," "Robocop," and elements from Kathryn Bigelow and David Cronenberg." Rotten Tomatoes has a 68% critics score.

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Expendables 2

The Expendables 2 is the 2012 sequel, this one starring Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Norris, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Liam Hemsworth, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Fun cast with lots of explosions and well-placed bits of humor. Honestly, sometimes that's enough for me, and I like this one.


Slant Magazine gives it 3 out of 4 stars and concludes, "As ludicrous as it is to see this troupe of largely past-prime action-movie icons manically reassert their own box-office primacy, there's enough empty calorie fun to be had in humoring their shared fantasy that they're not getting too old for this shit." Rolling Stone gives it 2 out of 4 stars, saying, "This sequel doesn't wear down your resistance; it just wears you out." DVD Talk says it's "bloody fun and greatly improves on the mediocre first film." Entertainment Weekly gives it a B and closes with this:
Assigning artistic values like ''good'' or ''bad'' to The Expendables 2 is a fool's assignment. The movie is excellent crap, fine junk, an exercise in campy movie nostalgia, and a demonstration of American supremacy in the field of nutty cosmetic enhancements for aging movie stars. I had an inexcusably fine time studying movie-star hairlines and admiring their willingness to let us gawk.
Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 65%.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

13 Steps Down

13 Steps Down is a 2004 psychological thriller novel by Ruth Rendell. I've read another book by her (A Dark-Adapted Eye, written under the name Barbara Vine). That one was adapted for TV. I haven't particularly cared for either of these. I read this one quickly, just trying to move on to the next book in my stack. I don't care for the writing style at all. Some of it sounds downright awkward to me. I know there are a lot of fans, especially of her Inspector Wexford series, and I will read one of those to see if they are more to my taste.

a couple of sample paragraphs from early in the book:
The Cockatootle Club in Soho was overheated, smelled of various kinds of smoke and Thai green curry and was none too clean. So, at any rate, said the girl who Ed's girlfriend Steph had brought along for Mix. Ed was another rep-engineer at Fiterama and Mix's friend, Steph his live-in partner. The other girl kept running her finger along the chair legs and under the tables and holding it up to show everyone.
Could he persuade Colette Gilbert-Bamber to give a party? More to the point, could he persuade her to invite him to it if she did? The husband, whom he'd never met, was an unknown quantity. Mix had never even seen a picture of him. Maybe he hated parties or only liked the formal kind, full of business people drinking dry wine and fizzy water and talking about gilts and a bear market. Even if the party happened, would he have the nerve to ask Nerissa out? He'd have to take her somewhere fabulous, but he'd started saving up for that, and once he'd been seen out with her-or, say, three times-he'd be made, the TV offers would start rolling in, the requests for interviews, the invitations to premieres.
from the back of the book:
Mix Cellini has just moved into a flat in a decaying house in Nottinghill, where he plans to pursue his two abiding passions -supermodel Nerissa Nash, whom he worships from afar, and the life of serial killer Reggie Christie, hanged fifty years earlier for murdering at least eight women. Gwendolen Chawcer, Mix's eighty-year-old landlady has few interests beside her old books and her new tenant. But she does have an intriguing connection to Christie. And when reality intrudes into Mix's life, he turns to Christie for inspiration and a long pent-up violence explodes. Intricately plotted and brilliantly written, 13 Steps Down enters the minds of these disparate people as they move inexorably toward its breathtaking conclusion.
EW likes it, giving it an A and calls it "almost-perfect". NPR has an excerpt.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Snow Child

The Snow Child is a 2012 novel by Eowyn Ivey. Inspired by the Snow Child folk and fairy tales, this story is a touching exploration of loss. Arthur Ransome (author of the Swallows and Amazons series) makes an appearance in the book.

from the back of the book:
Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead, and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart -he struggling to maintain the farm; she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season's first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone -but they glimpse a young girl running through the trees.

This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child, who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful, violent territory things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform them all.
favorite quotes:
All her life she had believed in something more, in the mystery that shape-shifted at the edge of her senses. It was the flutter of moth wings on glass and the promise of river nymphs in the dappled creek beds. It was the smell of oak leaves on the summer evening she fell in love, and the way dawn threw itself across the cow pond and turned the water to light.
What a tragic tale! Why these stories for children always have to turn out so dreadfully is beyond me. I think if I ever tell it to my grandchildren, I will change the ending and have everyone live happily ever after. We are allowed to do that are we not Mabel? To invent our own endings and choose joy over sorrow?
To believe, perhaps you have to cease looking for explanations and instead hold the little thing in your hands as long as you were able before it slipped like water between your fingers.
In my old age, I see that life itself is often more fantastic and terrible than the stories we believed as children, and that perhaps there is no harm in finding magic among the trees.
We never know what is going to happen, do we? Life is always throwing us this way and that. That's where the adventure is. Not knowing where you'll end up or how you'll fare. It's all a mystery, and when we say any different, we're just lying to ourselves. Tell me, when have you felt most alive?
NPR concludes, "A chilly setting? Yes. A sad tale? This terrific novelistic debut will convince you that in some cases, a fantastic story — with tinges of sadness and a mysterious onward-pulsing life force — may be best for this, or any, season." The Washington Post says, "The real magic of this story is that it’s never as simple as it seems, never moves exactly in the direction you think it must." Kirkus Reviews calls it, "A fine first novel that enlivens familiar themes of parenthood and battles against nature." Slate calls it "a totally unobjectionable novel with good pacing and a pretty set, but it is not a revelation of content or style or form" and says, "This novel is an easy meditation on yearning, harsh climates, good marriages, and friendly neighbors. It’s got the bittersweet, womb-stirring quality that is catnip to many readers."

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Memphis Milano at the Dixon

I've been interested in the Memphis Group (1981-1988) ever since I first learned of it. There was an exhibition here at the Brooks Museum in 1984, but that's been a while. This exhibit at the Dixon Gallery included a variety of pieces. My favorite piece was Ivory, a side table by Ettore Sottsass (1917-2007):

photo from Pinterest

There were some teapots on display (so I'm linking to Bleubeard and Elizabeth's Tea Tuesday gathering). The teapots included this one from 1982, part of the Anchorage collection by Peter Shire:

image from MFA
It is described as "anything but an ordinary teapot, challenging its core function as a receptacle for hot beverages". Another work by Peter Shire that particularly struck me was the Bel Air armchair:

image from ixlar

There was a teapot, sugar bowl, and cup and saucer by Matteo Thun (b. 1952). Here's the cup and saucer:

photo from Pinterest

There were two teapots by Marco Zanini, the Colorado and the Sepik:
from Memphis-Milano.com
from Memphis-Milano.com

I also got a kick out of Zanini's Dublin sofa (1981):

photo from Pinterest

The Dixon describes the exhibit on its website this way:
A retrospective look at the flamboyant and colorful furniture and household objects produced by the Memphis collective between 1981 and 1988. Based in Milan, these iconoclastic architects and designers helped define the look of a generation. Memphis-Milano includes over 150 iconic works that date from its founding in 1981 through 1988, when the group disbanded. By then, Memphis was already part of design history. Sponsored by Karen and Dr. Preston Dorsett; Liz and Tommy Farnsworth; and Nancy and Steve Morrow.

You can see photos from the exhibit here and here. Here's a 40 second video showing some of the exhibit:

from the Memphis Magazine review:
Kevin Sharp, the Dixon’s director, characterizes the objects that the “Memphis” movement produced as “radical reinterpretations of familiar forms, forms that were as smart as they were surprising.” Visitors to this eye-popping show will be both amazed — and amused — by the sheer volume of pieces on display: 150 vibrant, iconic works, including sofas, chairs, bookshelves, lamps, ceramics and glass objects.
GoMemphis says, "The 150 objects in the show were selected by guest curator Dana Holland-Beickert from the collection of local photographer Dennis Zanone." Zanone has a website here. There is information on his collection here, he has a Flickr stream here, and he administers a Facebook page devoted to the Memphis Group.

Monday, September 22, 2014

The French Doors

The French Doors is a 2002 New Zealand horror short film directed by Steve Ayson. The plot synopsis from imdb: "A man installs a set of French doors during a renovation. What he doesn't know is that the doors harbour a secret. A dark secret..."  I found the film from this link posted in a comment thread I can't remember now.

via youtube:

Disturbing Films talks about what works in this short.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Challenge of McKenna

Challenge of McKenna is a 1970 Spaghetti Western starring Robert Woods and John Ireland. An American former priest, haunted by demons from his past, comes across a hanged man and a grieving woman. He buries the man and takes the woman to the nearest ranch. It turns out that the woman is the rancher's daughter and the hanged man an unwelcome suitor. His interference in the family's business irritates the bristly father and his insane son. This is very watchable with good acting, a fine soundtrack, and an interesting plot.

SpaghettiWestern.net calls it "a hidden gem" and says it's
a very good example of a low budget film which punches well above its weight. All the cast are due praise, the soundtrack works well without being a classic, the themes are well played out and thought provoking and, above all, some of the dialogue and one liners are truly memorable.
WesternsAllItaliana has a plot synopsis.

Saturday, September 20, 2014


Falconer is a 1977 novel by John Cheever, better known for his short stories. This is a story of each of us: of our wrongdoings, our punishments, and of how we cope with life.

from the back of the book:
Stunning and brutally powerful, Falconer tells the story of a man named Farragut, his crime and punishment, and his struggle to remain a man in a universe bent on beating him back into childhood. Only John Cheever could deliver these grand themes with the irony, unforced eloquence, and exhilarating humor that make Falconer such a triumphant work of the moral imagination.
Music is mentioned several times. People sing pieces of blues and bluegrass tunes a few times. There's mention of the main character hearing a piano being played, "the dreariest of the Chopin preludes -that prelude they use in murder films before the shot is fired...".

Favorite quotes:
"There is nothing on earth as cruel as a rotten marriage."
For Farragut the word "mother" evoked the image of a woman pumping gas, curtsying at the Assemblies and banging a lectern with her gavel. This confused him and he would blame his confusion on the fine arts, on Degas. There is a Degas painting of a woman with a bowl of chrysanthemums that had come to represent to Farragut the great serenity of "mother." The world kept urging him to match his own mother, a famous arsonist, snob, gas pumper and wing shot, against the image of the stranger with her autumnal and bitter-smelling flowers. Why had the universe encouraged this gap? Why had he been encouraged to cultivate so broad a border of sorrow?
I got to thinking about what works of art bring my mother to mind and what works of art evoke for me the concept of "mother". I can't think of a single famous painting that does either of these things for me. When I think of my mother, all kinds of images spring up of times when I was little (in the kitchen, in the backyard, on camping trips), times my kids were little (with her playing with them in the floor or her backyard or going with us to parks or museums), and -more painfully- these later years that were so hard for her. I don't have a painting that represents "mother" for me. There's too much packed into the word for that.

And another quote that struck me:
Farragut could see waves breaking on a white beach and the streets of a village and the trees of a forest, but why did they all stay in one room, quarreling, when they could walk to a store or eat a picnic in the woods or go for a swim in the sea? They were free to do all of this. Why did they stay indoors? Why didn't they hear the sea calling to them as Farragut heard it calling, imagine the clearness of the brine as it fanned out over the beautiful pebbles?
And this one:
He had never, that he remembered, been carried before.
Reading a book with other people, I can find out how certain parts strike others. Reading alone, I wonder if it's just me or if everyone reads a quote as I do.

It is on Time's list of "the 100 best English-language novels published since 1923," where they describe it as "A story of suffering and redemption, told in Cheever’s fullest register." Kirkus Reviews calls it "a statement of the human condition, a parable of salvation."

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Sculpture Garden at the Memphis Botanic Garden

The Sculpture Garden at the Memphis Botanic Garden was added in 1968 and has been recently renovated. You encounter this area as you leave the Visitor Center and enter the grounds.

The area is visible from the cafe patio, too. There are sculptures throughout the larger garden, but this small dedicated area is striking.

Thursday, September 18, 2014


Maskerade is #18 in the Terry Pratchett Discworld series. This one features the witches. I started by reading these in publication order, but I've given that up. Now I buy them when I see them and read them in whatever order they come to me. This one is laugh-out-loud funny. I want to read it aloud to somebody, but nobody seems to want that. They just don't know what they're missing! The Younger Son loves this series, and I pass these along to him once I'm done.

Pratchett announced in late 2007 that he was suffering from early onset Alzheimers. The 40th Discworld book was published last year, so he seems to be doing better than had been expected at the time of the diagnosis. For this and other blessings we rejoice.

from the back of the book:
The Ghost in the bone-white mask who haunts the Ankh-Morpork Opera House was always considered a benign presence -some would even say lucky- until he started killing people. The sudden rash of bizarre backstage deaths now threatens to mar the operatic debut of country girl Perdita X. (nee Agnes) Nitt, she of the ample body and ampler voice.

Perdita's expected to hide in the chorus and sing arias out loud while a more petitely presentable soprano mouths the notes. But at least it's an escape from scheming Nanny Ogg and old Granny Weatherwax back home, who want her to join their witchy ranks. Once Granny sets her mind on something, however, it's difficult -and often hazardous- to dissuade her. And no opera-prowling phantom fiend is going to keep a pair of determined hags down on the farm after they've seen Ankh-Morpork.

Selected quotes:
Of course, Granny Weatherwax made a great play of her independence and self-reliance. But the point about that kind of stuff was that you needed someone around to be proudly independent and self-reliant at. People who didn't need people needed people around to know that they were the kind of people who didn't need people. It was like hermits. There was no point freezing your nadgers off on top of some mountain while communing with the Infinite unless you could rely on a lot of impressionable young women to come along occasionally and say "Gosh."
You needed at least three witches for a coven. Two witches was just an argument.
And since the IQ of a mob is the IQ of its stupidest member divided by the number of mobsters, it was never very clear to anyone what had happened.
I've read the following Discworld books:

1) The Color of Magic
2) The Light Fantastic
3) Equal Rites
4) Mort
5) Sourcery
6) Wyrd Sisters
7) Pyramids
8) Guards! Guards!
21) Jingo
33) Going Postal

SF Signal gives it 4 1/2 out of 5 stars, calls it "almost non-stop funny" and says, "Pratchett is in fine form". SF Site has a positive review. SFF Book Review closes with this:
Discworld is a feel-good place, even though bad things happen there as much as anywhere (if not more). Make a note for reading slumps or bad times or terrible weather. Because I know where I’ll be when either of these happen. RATING: 8/10 Excellent!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Sea Isle Park

I've been trying to walk more, and this neighborhood park made a lovely change of pace. There's a fitness area:

There is a natural area and bird accommodations:

I walked along the tree trail:

There are a couple of picnic tables:

There are many benches:

It was a good place both for a bit of exercise and some relaxation.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Serendipity Tea Room

The Daughter and I used to take my mother to the Serendipity Tea Room every so often. We even invited my sister and her daughter sometimes. It's a delightful little place located inside an antique mall in Bartlett, TN (a Memphis suburb). They seat you at a table and bring menus. The tea is bagged tea but is served in little vintage pots. They bring sweet little heart-shaped biscuits and spread to enjoy with your tea until your food comes:

I had the chicken salad and lemon tea:

and The Daughter had the pasta salad and Earl Grey. You can see the menu here. It was a wonderful meal, a nice atmosphere, and there were fond memories of times we'd been before. We don't go often, but we always enjoy it, the service is always welcoming, and the food is consistently good. A delight!

Just one little issue: They do add the gratuity to the check, even if there's just one person or two dining. It's labeled "gr" in a cursive scribble. I had to ask what it was the first time we went. At that time we were told they had trouble with people "running us to death and then not leaving a tip." I never forgot that. It seemed an odd thing to tell us. And we've never noticed any of the sweet little elderly servers being "run to death" or noticed any particularly demanding diners, for that matter. That first time I had already placed a generous tip on the table, but I picked it back up when their policy was explained to me. I would leave a bigger tip than they assess, but I'm not leaving more if they are going to add it to the tab. Just call me stubborn on this subject; but it's my understanding that the amount of a gratuity is to be determined by the one being served, not by the server. If they add it to the bill, it's a service charge in lieu of tip.

The Urban Spoon gives it a score of 78%. Yelp gives it 2 out of 5 stars. Go Memphis has a positive review.

Please join Bleubeard and Elizabeth's T(ea) Party, where most folks are of an artistic bent, and where our host is in the middle of an abstract series.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Kassie Jones

Kassie Jones:

by Furry Lewis (1893-1981), who died 33 years ago yesterday.

I woke up this mornin', four o'clock.
Mister Casey told his fireman, get his boiler hot.
Put on your water, put on your coal.
Put your head out of the window, see my drivers roll.
See my driver roll.
Put your head out of the window, see my driver roll.

Lord, some people say that Mister Casey couldn't run.
Let me just tell you what Mister Casey done.
He left Memphis, it was quarter to nine.
Got to Newport News, it was dinnertime.
It was dinnertime.
Got to Newport News, it was dinnertime.

I've sold my gin, I've sold it straight.
Police run me to my woman's gate.
She comes to the door, she nod her head.
She made me welcome to the foldin' bed.
To the foldin' bed.
Made me welcome to the foldin' bed.

Lord, the people said to Casey "You're runnin' over time."
"You'll have another loser with the one-o-nine."
Casey said, "This ain't in mind.
I'll run it in close just to make my time."
Said to all the passengers, "Better keep yourself hid
Naturally gonna shake it like Chainey did."
Like Chainey did.
Naturally gonna shake it like Chainey did.

Mister Casey run his engine within a mile of the place.
Number four stared him in the face.
The depot told Casey, "Well, you must leave town."
"Believe to my soul I'm Alabama bound."
"Alabama bound."
"Believe to my soul I'm Alabama bound."

Missus Casey said she dreamt a dream,
The night she bought her sewin' machine.
The needle got broke, she could not sew.
She loved Mister Casey, 'cause she told me so.
Told me so.
Loved Mister Casey, 'cause she told me so.

There was a woman name Miss Alice Fry.
Said, "I'm gonna ride with Mister Casey 'fore I die.
I ain't good looking but I take my time.
A rambling woman with a rambling mind.
Got a rambling mind."

Casey looked at his water, water was low.
Looked at his watch, his watch was slow.

On the road again.
Natural born Eastman on the road again.

Lord, there's people tell by the throttle moan,
The man at the fire's Mister Casey Jones.
Mister Casey Jones.

Mister Casey said, before he died,
One more road that he wants to ride.
People tells Casey, "Which road is he?"
"The Southern Pacific and the Santa Fe.
Santa Fe."

This mornin' I heard someone was dyin'.
Missus Casey's children on the doorstep cryin'.
Mama, mama, I can't keep from cryin',
Papa got killed on the Southern line.
On the Southern line.
Papa got killed on the Southern line.

"Mama, mama, how can it be?
Killed my father and you weren't the first to grieve?"
"Children, children want you to hold your breath.
Draw another pension from your father's death.
From your father's death."

On the road again.
I'm a natural born Eastman on the road again.

Tuesday mornin', it looked like rain.
Around the curve came a passenger train.
Under the boiler lay Mister Casey Jones.
Good old engineer, but he's dead and gone.
Dead and gone.

On the road again.
I'm a natural born Eastman on the road again.

I left Memphis to spread the news.
Memphis women don't wear no shoes.
Had it written in the back of my shirt,
Natural born Eastmen don't have to work.
Don't have to work.
I'm a natural born Eastman, don't have to work.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Olive Kitteridge

Olive Kitteridge is a 2008 book by Elizabeth Strout, an interconnected series of short stories. It won the Pulitzer Prize, and is described at that site as "a collection of 13 short stories set in small-town Maine that packs a cumulative emotional wallop, bound together by polished prose and by Olive, the title character, blunt, flawed and fascinating." This was an engrossing, sometimes painful, read and dealt with perceptions in relationships. You are not the person others think you are, but sometimes you are more the person others think you are than not. Some truths are hard to hear. I will definitely read more by this author.

from the back of the book:
At times stern, at other times patient, at times perceptive, at other times in sad denial, Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher, deplores the changes in her little town of Crosby, Maine, and in the world at large, but she doesn’t always recognize the changes in those around her: a lounge musician haunted by a past romance; a former student who has lost the will to live; Olive’s own adult child, who feels tyrannized by her irrational sensitivities; and her husband, Henry, who finds his loyalty to his marriage both a blessing and a curse.

As the townspeople grapple with their problems, mild and dire, Olive is brought to a deeper understanding of herself and her life –sometimes painfully, but always with ruthless honesty. Olive Kitteridge offers profound insights into the human condition –its conflicts, its tragedies and joys, and the endurance it requires.
quotes that struck me:
...that must be the way of life, to get something figured out when it was too late.
Olive's private view is that life depends on what she thinks of as "big bursts" and "little bursts." Big bursts are things like marriage or children, intimacies that keep you afloat, but these big bursts hold dangerous unseen currents. Which is why you need the little bursts as well: a friendly clerk at Bradlee's, let's say, or the waitress at Dunkin' Donuts who knows how you like your coffee. Tricky business, really.
But after a certain point in a marriage, you stopped having a certain kind of fight, olive thought, because when the years behind you were more than the years in front of you, things were different.
In the dark of the car, his wife, Jane, sat with her nice black coat buttoned up all the way -the coat they'd bought together last year, going through all these stores. Hard work; they'd get thirsty and end up having a sundae at the place on Water Street, the sullen young waitress always giving them their senior discount even though they never asked; they had joked about that -how the girl had no idea, as she plunked down their mugs of coffee, that her own arm would someday be sprinkled with age spots, or that coffee had to be planned since blood pressure medicine made you widdle so much, that life picked up speed, and then most of it was gone -made you breathless, really.
They had fun together these days, they really did. It was as if marriage had been a long, complicated meal, and now there was this lovely dessert.
She didn't like to be alone. Even more, she didn't like being with people.
Had they known at these moments to be quietly joyful? Most likely not. People mostly did not know enough when they were living life that they were living it. But she had that memory now, of something healthy and pure.
Dying. Not Dying. Either way, it tires you out.
The New York Times says, "The pleasure in reading “Olive Kitteridge” comes from an intense identification with complicated, not always admirable, characters." Kirkus Reviews calls it "A perfectly balanced portrait of the human condition, encompassing plenty of anger, cruelty and loss without ever losing sight of the equally powerful presences of tenderness, shared pursuits and lifelong loyalty." Lit Lovers has excerpts from several reviews and provides a discussion guide.

Saturday, September 13, 2014


RED 2 is a 2013 sequel to RED. Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Lee Byung-hun, Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, and David Thewlis star. A mindless action film with lots of explosions is all this is, but if you liked the first one you'll like this. We liked the first one. If you didn't, move along, nothing to see here.


Slant Magazine gives it 1 out of 4 stars and says, "Red 2 essentially weaponizes middle-aged malaise" and calls it "bland". The Atlantic bemoans the trend of aging action stars and says, "I can't be the only film-goer made nervous by the prospect of Die Hard With a Pension." Empire Online gives it 3 out of 5 stars and closes by describing it as "A fun, frothy return for Frank and his creaky commandos." Vulture warns, "It’s funnier than its predecessor, but also less human". Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 42% and an audience score of 64%.

Friday, September 12, 2014


Rendez-vous is a 1985 French film. André Téchiné directs. It won Best Director at Cannes. It stars Juliette Binoche, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Lambert Wilson, Wadeck Stanczak (in one of his first films), Dominique Lavanant, and Anne Wiazemsky (whose 1st film was Bresson's Au Hasard Balthazar). Imdb describes it as "A provocative erotic drama, stylishly rendered" and a "compelling investigation into the intersection of sexual and artistic passion". There is full female nudity, just fyi. Implied male nudity, but everything's not on full display.

I watched it free online at Hulu with commercials. trailer:

Rotten Tomatoes doesn't have enough critic reviews for a score yet, but the audience score is 58%. Reviews are not easy to find, or weren't for me.

Thursday, September 11, 2014


Reamde is a 2011 novel by Neal Stephenson. I bought it because I thought it was a science fiction novel. After all, it was shelved in the science fiction section and the author does write science fiction. It's not SF, though. It's a techno-thriller. It's a riveting read. The book is 1042 pages long, but don't let that scare you off. It's a real page-turner, with steady pacing. The numerous characters and plot threads are somehow easy to keep track of. I highly recommend this one.

from the dust jacket:
Neal Stephenson, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Anathem, returns to the terrain of his groundbreaking novels Snow Crash, The Diamond Age, and Cryptonomicon to deliver a high-intensity, high-stakes, action-packed adventure thriller in which a tech entrepreneur gets caught in the very real crossfire of his own online war game.

In 1972, Richard Forthrast, the black sheep of an Iowa farming clan, fled to the mountains of British Columbia to avoid the draft. A skilled hunting guide, he eventually amassed a fortune by smuggling marijuana across the border between Canada and Idaho. As the years passed, Richard went straight and returned to the States after the U.S. government granted amnesty to draft dodgers. He parlayed his wealth into an empire and developed a remote resort in which he lives. He also created T'Rain, a multibillion-dollar, massively multiplayer online role-playing game with millions of fans around the world.

But T'Rain's success has also made it a target. Hackers have struck gold by unleashing REAMDE, a virus that encrypts all of a player's electronic files and holds them for ransom. They have also unwittingly triggered a deadly war beyond the boundaries of the game's virtual universe -and Richard is at ground zero.

Racing around the globe from the Pacific Northwest to China to the wilds of northern Idaho and points in between, Reamde is a swift-paced thriller that traverses worlds virtual and real. Filled with unexpected twists and turns in which unforgettable villains and unlikely heroes face off in a battle for survival, it is a brilliant refraction of the twenty-first century, from the global war on terror to social media, computer hackers to mobsters, entrepreneurs to religious fundamentalists. Above all, Reamde is an enthralling human story -an entertaining and epic page-turner from the extraordinary Neal Stephenson.
The Guardian calls it "a joyride". The Washington Post says,
In less masterful hands, this pile-up of implausible coincidences, madcap romance, technological mayhem and nail-biting suspense might have been a train wreck, but Stephenson pulls it off. “Reamde” has one of the most satisfyingly over-the-top endings of anything I’ve read in years.
Salon bemoans that "“Reamde” is a thriller whose basic plot is almost embarrassingly simple" and seems to wish it was a harder read, but says, "I thoroughly enjoyed “Reamde.” I couldn’t put it down — which, for a thriller, has got to be the highest praise. Despite its 1,000-plus pages, “Reamde” moves right along."

Kirkus Reviews concludes it's "An intriguing yarn—most geeky, and full of satisfying mayhem." BoingBoing calls it "a powerful, magnificent book that is worth the sizable forests that will have to be demolished to commit it to paper, and the sizable lump that it will represent in your bag or briefcase while you finish it." Strange Horizons says, "Reamde is clever without being obnoxious, fun without being campy, funny without being stupid, scary without being alarmist, poignant without being sentimental, and exciting without being mind-numbing. What more could one want from a blockbuster?"

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Interesting Contrast

Seen on a recent walk, within 1 1/2 miles of each other.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Marisol at the Brooks

I remember when the Brooks Art Museum commissioned The Family (pictured above) and installed it. I fell in love at first sight. I don't know what about it delighted me, but I have always loved it. I've had a framed postcard of it on my wall as long as I can remember. The museum staff took it off display years ago, and I mourned. I never got a satisfactory explanation for why I could no longer visit with it.

When I heard the Brooks was bringing it back out as a part of a retrospective of Marisol's work, I was in heaven! I've been to visit several times during the exhibition. Marisol is a fascinating artist. Maria Sol Escobar was born in Paris in 1930 of Venezuelan parents. Most of her work was done in New York City. The Boston Globe has an overview of her life and work

In addition to The Family, my particular favorites from this exhibit are Mi Mama y Yo (the work shown above that includes a parasol), and Women Sitting on a Mirror (1965-1966):

Two of the most striking are The Funeral:

image from ElMuseo.org

and Desmond Tutu:

image from CarolDiehl.com

Visitors are encouraged to take a photo of themselves with the family, and here's mine:

The first time I saw the exhibit, I went with The Daughter. We had a delightful lunch out on the patio of the museum's Brushmark Restaurant:

I had chicken salad croissant and coffee:

It was excellent. The Daughter had a hamburger, and she enjoyed it.

The Daughter and I also went downtown to view the works that were inspired by Marisol's sculptures. That link will take you to decent pictures. It was hard for me to get photos through the storefront glass, but these are the best I could do:

I will miss The Family once it leaves, but this exhibition is going to New York City where Marisol currently lives. I hope that once it comes home it will receive the treatment it deserves and can be viewed anytime I go to the Brooks.

Join the T Party over at Bleubeard and Elizabeth's blog, where Elizabeth is shining in her exploration of Abstract painting.