Sunday, November 30, 2014

Muddy's Grindhouse

Muddy's Grindhouse is fairly new, another location for the people who own the Muddy's Bake Shop I've written about before. This location in the Cooper-Young area of Midtown has more food and coffee options. Here's the entrance:

Isn't that cheerful? The Daughter had the pumpkin pie and Earl Grey cookies, and I had zucchini bread:

We each had coffee. Everything was wonderful. You order at the counter and take your food to a table after paying at the register, just like the other location. There's a patio you can see on the left side of the photo at the top of the post. The prices were average for coffee shops in the city, and the staff is more than pleasant. There was steady traffic while we were there. We enjoyed this very much.

Here's a photo of one of their wall decorations:

We did some Christmas shopping afterwards. 'Tis the season.

Yelp gives it 4 1/2 out of 5 stars. Choose 901 has several photos of the interior.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Shanghai Express

Shanghai Express is a 1932 film directed by Josef von Sternberg and starring Marlene Dietrich and Anna May Wong. It also stars Clive Brook, Warner Oland (best known for playing Charlie Chan in numerous films), and Eugene Pallette (best known for his roles as Friar Tuck in the Errol Flynn Robin Hood movie and Father Felipe in the Tyrone Power Mark of Zorro). It's based on a book which, in turn, is based on the true story of the capture of a train by a Chinese warlord and the holding for ransom of the occupants. The film was nominated for 3 Academy Awards and won for cinematography. This is wonderful! It's held up well and remains enjoyable.

via Daily Motion:

Senses of Cinema says, "It’s a riotous exercise in excess in every area; the visuals are overpowering and sumptuous; the costumes ornate and extravagant; the sets a riot of fabrics, light and space; and all of it captured in the most delectable black-and-white cinematography that one can find anywhere". TCM and MSN have overviews. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 100%.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Oft, in the Stilly Night

In memory of my mother, who died on this date on Thanksgiving Day a year ago. At 95, she was the last of her generation in her family, and much was lost at her passing.

Oft, in the Stilly Night

By Thomas Moore

Oft, in the stilly night,
Ere slumber’s chain has bound me,
Fond memory brings the light
Of other days around me;
The smiles, the tears,
Of boyhood’s years,
The words of love then spoken;
The eyes that shone,
Now dimm’d and gone,
The cheerful hearts now broken!
Thus, in the stilly night,
Ere slumber’s chain hath bound me,
Sad memory brings the light
Of other days around me.

When I remember all
The friends, so link’d together,
I’ve seen around me fall,
Like leaves in wintry weather;
I feel like one
Who treads alone
Some banquet-hall deserted,
Whose lights are fled,
Whose garlands dead,
And all but he departed!
Thus, in the stilly night,
Ere slumber’s chain has bound me,
Sad memory brings the light
Of other days around me.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Extremes: A Retrieval Artist Novel.

Extremes is #2 in the Retrieval Artist series of science fiction detective novels by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. I pick these up when I find them, but that's turned out to be a slow process. I like the concept. In this book, the point of view shifts from chapter to chapter, and the transitions are well done. The story itself is interesting. The characters are described well enough so it makes it easy to remember who's who, but not well enough so that I cared much about them as people. The plot moves along at a steady and then gradually increasing rate, and then there's an exciting conclusion. You don't have to enjoy science fiction to enjoy this book; just picture it happening in the Antarctic, and it makes just as much sense. It's a fun, quick read.

from the back of the book:
His name: Miles Flint.
His occupation: Retrieval Artist
His job: Find the Disappeared - outlaws on the run, wanted for crimes against alien cultures.
The catch: Flint isn't working on the side of the law anymore.
One simple mistake and a Disappeared could end up dead. But this time, the death of an ailing Retrieval Artist has caught Flint's attention. He suspects it was foul play, not a viral infection. Equally suspicious is a young woman's sudden demise during the Moon's prestigious Extreme Marathon. As Flint investigates, he finds an ominous connection. Both deaths lead back to a scientist. A scientist who is now one of the Disappeared.
The review at concludes, "Read the book quickly without thinking much and I think you'll be entertained -- but pull on any of the dangling threads and the whole thing collapses." SF Revu hopes the series gets better after this 2nd addition.

I've read a short story by this author in addition to the following books from the Retrieval Artist series:

#3 Consequences
#4 Buried Deep

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Portrait of Jennie

Portrait of Jennie is a 1948 fantasy drama film based on a short novel by Robert Nathan. It stars Jennifer Jones, Joseph Cotton, Ethyl Barrymore, Lilian Gish, and Cecil Kellaway. William Dieterle directs. This is a beautiful film! Haunting and romantic. Joseph Cotton plays a struggling artist, and Jennifer Jones is the mysterious girl who inspires him.

via Youtube:

Slant Magazine gives it 4 out of 4 stars and says, "Portrait of Jennie is a haunting evocation of one man's pained artistic process, and the genius of the film is how Dieterle delicately equates the creative impulse to an ever-evolving spiritual crisis." DVD Talk calls it "one of David O. Selznick's better films" and says, "The movie is a visual marvel, and Jones and Cotten are a sublimely attractive couple". Moria calls it a classic. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 91%.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving (early)

I'm having Suisse Mocha this morning in a cup that I only use during the Autumn. I like the changing of the season from Summer to Autumn, the growing crispness in the air, the colors of the leaves. The end of November brings all that to a close and brings in the bareness of Winter. While the Fall season lasts, though, I'll enjoy it. This coming Thursday is our Thanksgiving celebration. Mother always did the cooking, and I don't have the heart to do it now; so we're buying dishes ready-made. It'll be fine. We'll have turkey breast (I'll cook that), a small boneless sliced ham, cornbread dressing, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, fruit salad, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, rolls, and desserts.

We have a children's book that illustrates the poem "Over the River and Through the Woods", and I remember singing the words as we were on our way to Mother's when the kids were little:

As to the cup and saucer, there's no marking on the bottoms, but I've discovered it's a transferware ironstone pattern called Memory Lane (Pink) by Royal (USA). I bought this in a local antique mall. The pattern isn't rare or expensive, even though it's '60s-era and long discontinued. You can buy your own online for $7.99 at

Join the party at Bluebeard and Elizabeth's blog. I'm headed over there to see what the others are up to this week.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Give Me Memphis, Tennessee


written and originally performed by Chuck Berry, I know the Johnny Rivers version embedded above better. Rivers had his 72nd birthday earlier this month.

Long distance information, give me Memphis Tennessee
Help me find the party trying to get in touch with me
She could not leave her number, but I know who placed the call
'Cause my uncle took the message and he wrote it on the wall

Help me, information, get in touch with my Marie
She's the only one who'd phone me here from Memphis Tennessee
Her home is on the south side, high up on a ridge
Just a half a mile from the Mississippi Bridge

Help me, information, more than that I cannot add
Only that I miss her and all the fun we had
But we were pulled apart because her mom did not agree
And tore apart our happy home in Memphis Tennessee

Last time I saw Marie she's waving me good-bye
With hurry home drops on her cheek that trickled from her eye
Marie is only six years old, information please
Try to put me through to her in Memphis Tennessee

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Ronia the Robber's Daughter

Ronia the Robber's Daughter is a 1984 Swedish film based on the book by Astrid Lindgrin. This is a fun story and a lovely movie.

via Youtube:

Reviews online are oddly scarce, but DVD Talk calls it "innocent fun".

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)

Assault on Precinct 13 (1976) is a thriller/crime/action film directed by John Carpenter. By turns too slow and too violent, I didn't care for this at all. In the end I didn't finish it. It has a cult following, though, and is well-respected in some circles. The Imdb has this plot synopsis: "The lone inhabitants of an abandoned police station are under attack by the overwhelming numbers of a seemingly unstoppable street gang."

via youtube:

Moria gives it 4 out of 5 stars and calls it "A strong and disturbing film." Slant Magazine calls it "among one of the most remarkably composed films of all time". DVD Talk says, "A violent retelling of Rio Bravo, but with street gangs that behave like zombies from Night of the Living Dead, this is A+ exploitation material circa 1976." The BBC gives it 5 out of 5 stars and concludes, "in essence the core reason this film works so well is that it is so unpredictable, ruthless and without reason." Time Out calls it "sheer delight from beginning to end." DVD Verdict says it's "a simple, but effective, siege film only John Carpenter could nail on $100k. Check it out." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 97%.

Friday, November 21, 2014


Annihilation is book 1 in the Southern Reach trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer. Here's an example of a page-turner where I got so involved in the book I forgot everything else. Fascinating world-building and involving characters... I already have the other 2 and almost hate to start them, because I will hate to finish them.

from the back of the book:
Area X has been cut off from the rest of the world for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; the second expedition ended in mass suicide, the third in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another. The members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within weeks, all had died of cancer. In Annihilation, the first volume of Jeff VanderMeer's Southern Reach trilogy, we join the twelfth expedition.

The group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain, record all observations of their surroundings and of one another, and, above all, avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.

They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers -but it's the surprises that come across the border with them and the secrets the expedition members are keeping from one another that change everything.
favorite quote:
some questions will ruin you if you are denied the answer long enough.
Strange Horizons says,
I have sought to avoid plot summaries or spoilers, because the manner in which VanderMeer builds his tale is of real importance to its effect and achievement; but I hope that in my quotations I've emphasized something of the supple, allusive elegance of his prose here. Annihilation is a large work which looks slight and reads swift. That, too, is the sign of a writer in complete command of his material.
io9 closes by saying,
Action-packed and mind-bending, this is a novel that will leave you pondering, but not because the mystery remains unsolved. Instead, it's because the mysteries of Area X raise all kinds of questions about what passes for "normal" in our own lives, from the bizarre ways we try to draw boundaries across ecosystems, to the kinds of broken organizations we task with making new discoveries about the world.
Kirkus Reviews calls it "Speculative fiction at its most transfixing." The Guardian and NPR and The Telegraph have positive reviews. EW calls it one of the "great weird books". calls it "striking".

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Bridge of Sighs

The Bridge of Sighs (2003) is the first in the 5-book Yalta Boulevard sequence by Olen Steinhauer. I thoroughly enjoyed this mystery. I have the 2nd in the series and will seek out the rest. Devotion is a theme. It has an authentic feel to it to me.

from the back of the book:
In this auspicious literary crime debut by Olen Steinhauer, an inexperienced homicide detective struggles amidst the lawlessness of a post-WWII Eastern European city. It's 1948, three years after the Russians "liberated" the nation from German occupation. But the ideals of the Revolution are but memories. Twenty-two-year-old Detective Emil Brod is finally getting his chance to serve his country, investigating murder for the People's Militia.

The first victim is a state songwriter, but the facts point to a political motive. Emil wants to investigate further, but his new colleagues in Homicide are suspicious and remain silent. He is on his own in this new, dangerous world. The Bridge of Sighs launches a unique series of crime novels featuring an ever-evolving landscape, the politically volatile terrain of Eastern Europe in the second half of the twentieth century.

favorite quote:
"One man has only so much loyalty. Figure out where yours lies."
The book is on a list of most-awarded mysteries and received 5 award nominations. Kirkus Reviews says, "Time, place, and cast are all richly evoked in a well-written, often gripping debut." Publishers Weekly concludes, "Fans of J. Robert Janes (who provides a blurb) in particular and of mysteries with totalitarian regime backgrounds in general should appreciate the authenticity the author brings from his experience as a Fulbright Fellow in Romania."

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Hills Run Red (1966)

The Hills Run Red is a 1966 spaghetti western starring Henry Silva and Dan Duryea. Ennio Morricone does the music. Carlo Lizzani, who died this past October committing suicide at the age of 91, directs. This is a revenge story, worth seeing.

via youtube:

Fistful of Pasta recommends it. praises the acting, the music, the plot, the dialog... and calls it "a must buy for any fan of the genre".

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


Fraud is a 1992 novel by Anita Brookner. I love this author and am quite pleased that she is not only prolific but is still alive. She was born in 1928. This book deals a lot with identity, sacrifice, aging, and mourning, and so there were sad moments for me; but it is an uplifting book -even inspiring.

from the back of the book:
At the heart of Anita Brookner's new novel lies a double mystery: What happened to Anna Durrant, a solitary woman of a certain age who has disappeared from her London flat? And why has it taken four months for anyone to notice?

As Brookner reconstructs Ana's life and character through the eyes of her acquaintances, she gives us a witty yet ultimately devastating study of self-annihilating virtue while exposing the social, fiscal, and moral frauds that are the underpinnings of terrifying rectitude.

There is tea throughout this book. And coffee. It's a thread than wanders from beginning to the very end, so I've decided to enter the book into the T(ea) Tuesday festivities at Bleubeard and Elizabeth's blog. Here's my favorite tea quote:
I am homesick, she thought with surprise. Homesick for that dark flat, which I have never much liked, homesick for my own chair and my footstool, for that brown kitchen teapot which I bought from Pelham Street (Beatrice swore that it made the best tea, and she was right: I often enjoyed a cup in the basement with her), homesick above all for my bedroom, so gloomy in daytime, so comfortingly womblike at night.

There are a couple of artworks mentioned. Degas's Jeunes Spartiates s'exerçant à la guerre is mentioned, as is Titian's Sacred and Profane Love:

There's a reference to a remark by Baudelaire "that he found it difficult to breathe when faced with a portrait by Ingres." There's a piece of a poem in French, which I had to google to translate; but it seems to be Paul Valéry's The Graveyard By The Sea:
After such arrogance, after so much strange
Idleness -strange, yet full of potency-
favorite non-tea-related quotes:
But there was too little to do when one was old, and feeling one's age, reluctant to venture further than the shops and the library, and then faced with a long afternoon at home. If she was at all nostalgic it was for her earlier vigour, when she had thought nothing of being out all day. She did not mind the silence, for she had come to cherish it, but there was a certain lack of human nourishment about her days that distressed her. Not excessively, for she was not an excessive woman, and not at all given to unnecessary regrets. She simply wished for the occasional conversation, the occasional stimulus of another personality. She was careful not to brood on this deficiency, but rather to face it squarely. She was, she knew, fortunate: she was not in need, did not depend on her children, had suffered no serious illnesses. Nevertheless she felt she was preparing mentally for her own death....
Those who love us are the most difficult to withstand.
The Independent has a spoiler-filled review and says, "Fraud, her 12th novel in 12 years, apparently conforms to everything that one has learnt to expect". The LA Times closes its review with this:
Fraud and denial, often yoked together, are indeed everywhere in life, and it takes a novel like this to show just how pervasive they are. "Fraud" sneaks up on you, delivering less than it promises in terms of mystery but more in terms of insight.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Feelin' Good

Feelin' Good:

by Junior Parker, who died 43 years ago tomorrow at the age of 39 during surgery for a brain tumor. This was recorded at Sun Studio in Memphis in 1953. He was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2001.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Alice (1988)

Alice is a 1988 claymation adaptation of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. It's a very loose adaptation directed by Jan Švankmajer. I like this director's work, and this film is a treat. I will admit that, by the end, the "said the White Rabbit" narration by Alice was irritating me, but that's a minor quibble.


Moria gives it 5 out of 5 stars, calling it a "work of bizarre genius". io9 calls it "The weirdest Alice in Wonderland movie ever made" and says, "It's an interesting experience for anyone familiar with the novel, but I certainly would not recommend it as an introduction to the story." The Telegraph says, "This Alice's glorious proliferation of magical transformations works like a charm on anyone who values the imagination". DVD Beaver says, "What the Czech animator Jan Svankmajer does in "Alice" seems more akin to alchemy than moviemaking. His is an art of dark conjuring, brought to life more by the wave of a wand than the slap of a clapper board." It has a critics score of 100% at Rotten Tomatoes.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Dressed for Death

Dressed for Death (or The Anonymous Venetian) (1994) is the 3rd book in the Commissario Guido Brunetti series by Donna Leon. I picked up a couple from this series when I came across them in the used book section of my local book store. I enjoyed this one and will buy more as I find them.

from the back of the book:
Commissario Guido Brunetti's hopes for a refreshing family holiday in the mountains are once again dashed when a gruesome discovery is made in Marghera -a body so badly beaten the face is completely unrecognizable. Brunetti searches Venice for someone who can identify the corpse but is met with a wall of silence. Then he receives a telephone call from a contact who promises some tantalizing information. And before the night is out Brunetti is confronting yet another appalling, and apparently senseless, death.
favorite quotes:
The city had grown old, but Brunetti loved the sorrows of her changing face.
One of the secrets Paola and Brunetti never revealed to anyone was their decades-long search for the ugliest Christ child in western art. At the moment, the title was held by a particularly bilious infant in room thirteen of the Pinacoteca di Siena. Although the baby in front of Brunetti was clearly no beauty, Siena's title was not at risk.
Beauty changed nothing, he knew, and perhaps the comfort it offered was no more than illusion, but still he welcomed that illusion.

Kirkus Reviews closes with this: "One of the most appealing of recent detectives, Brunetti stars in a case that brings out his canniness and his compassion--and shows his creator spreading her wings more powerfully than ever." Reviewing the Evidence says,
Guido Brunetti is a character who is always welcome at my reading table. He is a devoted family man. Unlike many cops, he is always civilized and has an intuitive sense of how to comfort or interrogate those he meets during his investigations. He is sensitive and serious but exhibits a fine sense of humor as well, especially when interacting with his wife, Paola.... Leon does an exceptional job of portraying Venice, its glory and its warts, as well as the complicated politics of the time.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Doll

The Doll is a 1919 Ernst Lubitsch film about a young man who fears women but has been offered a generous dowry to marry. He buys a doll in the likeness of the dollmaker's daughter in order to claim the money, but due to the assistant's damage to the doll the daughter steps into the role. When the young man is insistent on taking the doll with him on the spot, the real woman plays along.

This film is absolutely delightful.

via youtube:

DVD Talk says, "This is a charming, unpretentious, and funny movie.  With many comic scenes and some wonderful acting on Oswalda's part, it's a true gem."

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Hydrogen Sonata

The Hydrogen Sonata is one of the Culture novels by Iain M. Banks. I'm partial to big, sprawling space opera, and this is one. No complaints here, except that the author has died. This is the last of the Culture series; there will be no more. I mourn that fact. You can read the first chapter at io9.

from the back of the book:
The Scavenger species are circling. It is, truly, the End of Days for the Gzilt civilization.
favorite quotes:
Always try to avoid setting up future opportunities for kicking yourself.
Living either never has any point, or is always its own point; being a naturally cheery soul, I lean towards the latter. However, just having done more of it than another person doesn't really make much difference.
..."one thing that does happen when you live a long time is that you start to realise the essential futility of so much of what we do, especially when you see the same patterns of behavior repeated by succeeding generations and across different species. You see the same dreams, the same hopes, the same ambitions and aspirations, reiterated, and the same actions, the same courses and tactics and strategies, regurgitated, to the same predictable and often lamentable effects, and you start to think, So? Does it really matter? Why really are you bothering with all this? Are these not just further doomed, asinine ways of attempting to fill your vacuous, pointless existence, wedged slivered as it is between the boundless infinitudes of dark oblivion bookending its utter triviality?"

"Uh-huh," she said. "Is this a rhetorical question?"

"It is a mistaken question. Meaning is everywhere. There is always meaning. Or at least all things show a disturbing tendency to have meaning ascribed to them when intelligent beings are present. It's just that there's no final Meaning, with a capital M. Though the illusion that there might be is comforting for a certain class of mind."
"Even without the intrinsic limitations of a conventional biological brain, what one forgets can be as important and as formative as what one remembers."
... obsession is just what those too timorous to follow an idea through to its logical conclusion call determination.
Sometimes you just had to adopt the attitude summed up by, Too bad.
"One should never regret one's excesses, only one's failures of nerve."
The Guardian says, "For all that the books are epic in scope and derangingly replete in detail, The Hydrogen Sonata reiterates a key theme: that personal fulfilment, in whatever form that takes, is rare and to be treasured." Kirkus Reviews closes its review with this,
Scotland-resident Banks’ Culture yarns, the science-fiction equivalent of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels, brim with wit and wisdom, providing incomparable entertainment, with fascinating and highly original characters, challenging ideas and extrapolations, and dazzling action seamlessly embedded in a satirical-comedy matrix.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Hour of the Gun

Hour of the Gun is a 1967 John Sturges western, starring James Garner, Jason Robards, Robert Ryan, Jon Voight (in an early role), Steve Ihnat (who has a Star Trek: TOS connection), William Windom (who also has a ST: TOS connection), William Schallert (yet another Star Trek connection, TOS and DS9), Monte Markham (who was in Star Trek: DS9) and Frank Converse (who was in a 13-episode TV series in this same year called Coronet Blue, which I dearly loved). A fun cast for me to watch.

The film is an attempt at a historical re-telling of the gunfight at the O.K. Corral story and focuses on the aftermath. I had never heard of it 'til I came across it on Youtube. This is a well-done traditional western. Everything in it is good, working together to make such a movie that I wonder why it's not one of those highly acclaimed westerns everybody has seen. Jerry Goldsmith did the music; it's perfect. The acting can't be beat. I can't find any fault with it at all.

DVD Talk says, "Hour of the Gun deserves to be pushed closer to the top of the list of great westerns." Riding the High Country says, "I think it’s a little hidden gem of a movie that deserves much more recognition." Great Western Movies says "it stands up pretty well more than 40 years later". Roger Ebert gives it 3 1/2 out of 4 stars and says, "Sturges has made some good ones ("Gunfight," "Bad Day at Black Rock," "The Magnificent Seven"), and "Hour of the Gun" belongs in the same company but slightly lower on the guest list." Rotten Tomatoes has a 100% critics score.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Happy Veterans Day

Not to be confused with Memorial Day when we honor our war dead, Veterans Day is set aside to honor all those who have served our country in the military. At Overton Park here in Memphis we have a place called Veterans Plaza, where there are statues commemorating service in various wars. The picture above was taken at Overton Park earlier in the year.

I admit I'm not a fan of folks with guns, whether sponsored by the military or not; and I'm opposed to what I see as the glorification of war in our current culture. Today, though, I lift a glass in memory of Daddy, who did what he had to do during World War 2 and then never much wanted to talk about it afterwards.

Here's to American valor. May no war require it, but may it ever be ready for every foe.

Please join the T(ea) Tuesday gathering over at Bluebeard and Elizabeth's blog.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Down in Memphis

Down in Memphis:

by Booker T. Jones, who will celebrate a birthday day after tomorrow.

Doin' it in the heat
Learning how to walk the beat
Laying it down again
Taking it on the chin

Heading for the darkest club
Down on Beale Street
Playing that funky music
Drinking that funky gin

Gotta be a pistol
Gotta be a gun
Gotta be one strange phenomenon
Down in Memphis
Yeah Memphis Tennessee
Memphis Tennessee

Gotta see a new woman over in Klondike
Ten minutes in the Thunderbird
Running on the turnpike
I gotta pay union dues
Make me wanna to sing the blues
I can't be a winner now
'Cause I'm born to lose

Down in Memphis
Yeah Memphis Tennessee
Memphis Tennessee
Down in Memphis, Memphis
Doing it, doing it

Gotta shine shoes
Down on Fourth and Walker
Out on Peggy's Patio
For some sweet talker

Spend your easy nights
Out in Mallory Heights
Living on Auction Road
With no street lights

Tried to find love
Out in Dixie homes
Look at your TV
And you find Rufus and Bones

Matt D. Williams
Giving you a D-
The man won't hear no plea
Man won't play no key

Down in Memphis
MMM Memphis Tennessee
Memphis Tennessee
Down in Memphis, Memphis
Yeah Memphis Tennessee
Down in Memphis, Memphis, Memphis yeah
Memphis, Memphis, Memphis
Memphis Tennessee
Memphis Tennessee
Yeah Memphis Tennessee

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Ancillary Justice

Ancillary Justice is the award-winning debut novel by Ann Leckie. Science fiction of the space opera sub-genre, it deserves its accolades. It's an interesting and involving story. This is first in an upcoming trilogy, and I look forward to reading the rest. You can read the 1st chapter at Leckie's site.

from the back of the book:

On a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest.

Once, she was the Justice of Toren -a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy.

Now, an act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with one fragile human body, unanswered questions, and a burning desire for vengeance.

Diabolical Plots says,
This book is everything that space opera should be: exciting, emotional, action-packed, and well-paced. The story hits the ground running–there’s no infodump to ground you in the politics or technology of the universe. Action is happening on page one, ... With such a grand background, it would be easy to lose the individuals in the midst of it or to use one-dimensional characters from central casting, but the story is full of strong characters...
Locus Online says, "This is not entry-level SF, and its payoff is correspondingly greater because of that." From NPR's review: "A space opera that skillfully handles both choruses and arias, Ancillary Justice is an absorbing thousand-year history, a poignant personal journey, and a welcome addition to the genre." io9 concludes, "This is a novel that will thrill you like the page-turner it is, but stick with you for a long time afterward". Strange Horizons begins its review with this:
Ancillary Justice is an astoundingly assured and graceful debut novel, wedding a complicated structure to three-dimensional characters and multiple interesting SFnal ideas. There's been a lot of award buzz surrounding it, all of which is entirely deserved. The novel's core questions, such as the meaning of personhood in a world containing artificial intelligences and the meaning of individual identity in a world containing multi-bodied minds, are not new to speculative fiction, but they are combined in ways which shed new light on them...
SFF Book Review says, "What a remarkable, memorable, thought-provoking novel." Kirkus Reviews calls it "an altogether promising debut."

Saturday, November 08, 2014

42 Tagging

I realize there's a fine line between graffiti art and tagging, but I think this crosses it. These "Nosey 42" tags were all along the barrier separating the parking area from the park proper:

I love the 42s, but I'd like them attached to something more than just the signature tag. *Sad*

Friday, November 07, 2014

The Case of the Bloody Iris

The Case of the Bloody Iris (also known as What Are Those Strange Drops of Blood on Jennifer's Body? and Erotic Blue) is a 1971 Italian giallo film. Not my thing really, but if you like giallo films, this isn't bad. Giuliano Carnimeo directs. George Hilton (who was in a lot of spaghetti westerns and is the reason I watched this) and Edwige Fenech star.

via youtube:

Fearnet says, "The gialli are known for their stylish murder sequences, but Bloody Iris is light on the gore, leaning heavier on the sexual neuroses underlining the murders" and concludes,
Bloody Iris’ wry observations, unexpected bits of comedy, minimalist Bruno Nicolai score, and stellar, sexy cast make it a must-see. There’s fertile ground for a deeper reading of the film’s subtext if desired, but Carnimeo’s movie stands on its own as an inspired thriller.
Eccentric Cinema calls it "a bizarre, stylish whodunit populated by a host of oddball characters and suspects." Horrorpedia has a detailed plot description and screen shots. Mysteryfile says, "First impression: Beautifully photographed in sharp, colorful detail from many clever and unusual angles – a visual delight, smashingly so" and calls it "a small masterpiece of its type". Rotten Tomatoes has no critics score but an audience rating of 62%.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

The Bookshop

The Bookshop is a 1978 novel by Penelope Fitzgerald. This book was nominated for the Booker Prize in the year the winner was Iris Murdoch's The Sea, the Sea. Oddly, as it's a fun read, it's one of the saddest books I've ever read and a scathing indictment on the smallness of people in small towns. It's true that everybody who wants to be a big fish will find a pond small enough where they can be the biggest one of all.

I honestly cared about the main character.

from the back of the book:
In 1959 Florence Green, a kindhearted widow with a small inheritance, risks everything to open a bookshop -the only bookshop- in the seaside town of Hardborough. By making a success of a business so impractical, she invites the hostility of the town's less prosperous shopkeepers. By daring to enlarge her neighbors' lives, she crosses Mrs. Gamart, the local arts doyenne. Her warehouse leaks, her cellar seeps, and the shop is apparently ... haunted. Only too late does she begin to suspect the truth: that a town that lacks a bookshop isn't always a town that wants one.

Balzac, an expert on how nasty people can be to one another in small country places, once said that the ordinariness of human lives can never be a measure of the effort it takes to keep them going. Anyone who has found this to be true will admire Florence Green for her wit and her innocent courage, a courage that comes from simply choosing to survive.
Favorite quotes:
She had a kind heart, though that is not much use when it comes to the matter of self-preservation.
She wished that she could grow much taller, if only for half an hour, so that she could look down, rather than up, during interviews like these.
Kirkus Reviews calls it "Pitch-perfect in every tone, note, and detail: unflinching, humane, and wonderful."

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

God's Gun

God's Gun is a 1976 Spaghetti Western, a joint Italian/Israeli endeavor. This is part of my quest to watch all of Lee Van Cleef's films. I just love him and never turn down a chance to watch one of his movies. He has a double role as twin brothers in this one. Jack Palance and Leif Garrett also star. This has a basic revenge plot, with one Lee Van Cleef brother seeking vengeance for the death of the other.

Fistful of Pasta calls it "a rather late yet entertaining entry to the genre". says, "Van Cleef is compelling".  Rotten Tomatoes doesn't have enough critics reviews for a score, but the audience rating is 30%.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Tea for Two

I like to try teas that are a bit different -fruit-flavored teas, herbal concoctions.... I like a bit of variety. The Husband prefers the tried-and-true favorites. It's seldom we use the tea pot to brew the tea since we're usually drinking different teas. The Daughter picked up a great little pot at the Chinese grocery and suggested I get one like it so I could fix a couple of cups of loose tea for myself. That way, I'm not dealing with the tea ball and a cup and making it one cup at a time. This one has a tea strainer insert. It's perfect! And at only $7.50, it wasn't a bad deal.

I get a kick out of translations on foreign products. The box for this pot says, "Filter holding the dregs and controlling the liquid density," "Quartz glass bearing shock chilling and shock heating," and "Disassemble design conveniences your cleaning." It's obvious what they mean, and yet it's also obvious that translation is not just a matter of word-to-word equivalence. I am conscious of this every time I read the Bible in English (my only language) or read the English subtitles in a film. I always wonder what they are really saying.

There's a weekly T(ea) Tuesday blog gathering over at Bleubeard and Elizabeth's. Please join the fun.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Death Letter Blues

Death Letter Blues:

sung by Son House, who died 26 years ago last month. He was born in Lyon, Mississippi, which is less than 1 1/2 hours south of Memphis.

lyrics (though these don't match the video):
I got a letter this mornin, how do you reckon it read?
It said, "Hurry, hurry, yeah, your love is dead."
I got a letter this mornin, I say how do you reckon it read?
You know, it said, "Hurry, hurry, how come the gal you love is dead?"

So, I grabbed up my suitcase, and took off down the road.
When I got there she was layin on a coolin board.
I grabbed up my suitcase, and I said and I took off down the road.
I said, but when I got there she was already layin on a coolin board.

Well, I walked up right close, looked down in her face.
Said, the good ole gal got to lay here til the Judgement Day.
I walked up right close, and I said I looked down in her face.
I said the good ole gal, she got to lay here til the Judgement Day.

Looked like there was 10,000 people standin round the buryin ground.
I didn't know I loved her til they laid her down.
Looked like 10,000 were standin round the buryin ground.
You know I didn't know I loved her til they damn laid her down.

Lord, have mercy on my wicked soul.
I wouldn't mistreat you baby, for my weight in gold.
I said, Lord, have mercy on my wicked soul.
You know I wouldn't mistreat nobody, baby, not for my weight in gold.

Well, I folded up my arms and I slowly walked away.
I said, "Farewell honey, I'll see you on Judgement Day."
Ah, yeah, oh, yes, I slowly walked away.
I said, "Farewell, farewell, I'll see you on the Judgement Day."

You know I went in my room, I bowed down to pray.
The blues came along and drove my spirit away.
I went in my room, I said I bowed down to pray.
I said the blues came along and drove my spirit away.

You know I didn't feel so bad, til the good ole sun went down.
I didn't have a soul to throw my arms around.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

15 Classic Science Fiction Books

The Christian Science Monitor has a list of 15 classic science fiction books:
1. ‘Frankenstein,’ by Mary Shelley
2. '20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,’ by Jules Verne
3. ‘The Time Machine,’ by H.G. Wells
4. 'We,’ by Yevgeny Zamyatin
5. ‘Brave New World,’ by Aldous Huxley
6. ‘1984,’ by George Orwell
7. 'Martian Chronicles,’ by Ray Bradbury
8. 'Foundation,’ by Isaac Asimov
9. ‘A Wrinkle in Time,’ by Madeleine L'Engle
10. 'Dune,' by Frank Herbert
11. 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’ by Philip K. Dick
12. 'Slaughterhouse-Five,’ by Kurt Vonnegut
13. ‘Rendezvous with Rama,’ by Arthur C. Clarke
14. ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,’ by Douglas Adams
15. 'Neuromancer,’ by William Gibson
I've read all but one of these, and I enjoyed them all. I've kept several of them against the chance I'll re-read them yet again. My favorite from this list is probably Martian Chronicles, which I first read in the late '60s-early '70s and which I have read countless times. I've read all of the emboldened ones more than once except for Rendezvous with Rama and Neuromancer.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Man of Steel

October is over, and I'll be watching much less horror for a while.

Everybody else in the house had seen Man of Steel, but I hadn't. The rest of the family thought I should see it, calling it "the best Superman movie". Damned by faint praise, I suspected, but I did watch it. I agree that it's the best Superman movie. Not that that's saying much. This looks like all the other superhero movies do these days. I like the superhero movies, so that's not a bad thing, but this doesn't distinguish itself.


Moria praises Henry Cavill's acting as Superman but says, "In the quick soundbite response, Man of Steel ends up being a film where you spend the first half irritated with the substantial liberties it takes with comic-book canon and the other half bored with the mass destruction spectacle that drags on and on." Rolling Stone gives it 3 out of 4 stars and says, "Caught in the slipstream between action and angst, Man of Steel is a bumpy ride for sure. But there's no way to stay blind to its wonders."

DVD Talk says, "It took a classic story, gave audiences what they wanted from the genre, but honed the details until the whole movie shone. Don't go see it expecting Casablanca, but if you understand what you're getting into you can leave the theatre having seen a comic book movie on par with Batman Begins, if not better." Empire Online gives it 4 out of 5 stars and says, "It aches for more depth and warmth and humour, but this is spectacular sci-fi —huge, operatic, melodramatic, impressive. It feels the right Superman origin story for our era, and teases what would be a welcome new superfranchise." EW gives it a grade of C and concludes, "Never has a race to save the fate of humankind seemed so tedious."

Roger Ebert's site has a lengthy review and closes a mostly positive article by saying, ""Man of Steel" is in many ways an astonishing movie, but it won't do anything to quell complaints that the big-budget superhero genre is basically adolescent, that its creative development has been arrested for decades and might not budge anytime soon." It gets a 55% critics score and an audience rating of 76% at Rotten Tomatoes.