Sunday, May 31, 2015

House by the River

House by the River is a 1950 film noir directed by Fritz Lang and starring Jane Wyatt (who was Spock's mother in Star Trek: TOS), Howland Chamberland (who had his debut in The Best Years of Their Lives, had an uncredited but memorable role in High Noon and then was blacklisted for 25 years by the House Un-American Activities Committee), Peter Brocco (who also has a role in the original Star Trek series) and Kathleen Freeman (who had a very busy career from 1948-2001). I had never heard of this until I ran across it on Youtube, but it is worth watching. The acting is good, the plot moves steadily with gradually increasing tension... and that river! That sinister river!


Slant Magazine gives it 3 out of 4 stars. Senses of Cinema says, "it marshals its limited resources to create a rich and pervasive atmosphere of decay and corruption" and "The film is seldom screened, and any chance to see it should not be missed." DVD Talk says, "this will mostly appeal to people who are already fans of Lang's films." Noir of the Week calls it a "buried jewel" and calls it "a pitch black gothic noir that though modestly budgeted and featuring low-wattage star-power, succeeds on nearly all levels". Rotten Tomatoes has a 62% critics score.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Pleasure Garden

The Pleasure Garden is a 1925 silent film, Alfred Hitchcock's first film as director. It is about the lives and loves of 2 chorus girls. I'm finding it interesting to see the efforts of major directors before they became major, and it's fun to see elements that appear in later films. There's a spiral staircase in the opening scene, for example, and the Hitchcock blond is featured.

via Youtube:

The Guardian has an article on the history and restoration of the film. says, "The Pleasure Garden is a treatise on voyeurism, sexual politics and the gap between romantic dreams and reality." DVD Beaver has some stills.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Collierville Town Square

Collierville, TN, is an incorporated town, a suburb of Memphis, though I don't think they think of themselves that way. They have a historic town square they've done a lot of work on, and The Daughter and I went out there earlier this month to have some fun.

The square is just north of the railroad tracks, and there is an old passenger car and a caboose you can go through. The train engine is there but not accessible:

This is an old stage post that was moved from nearby to the town square:

We went into a little antique mall in one of the storefronts, and I bought a few picture frames to use for old family photos.

There are two museums, and we didn't go to either one but will come back soon to do that and to eat at one of the local restaurants. We had such a good day!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Curve of the Earth

The Curve of the Earth (2013) is the 4th book (and most recent) in the Metrozone series by Simon Morden and is the only book by this author that I've read. To be honest, if I'd realized it wasn't intended as a stand-alone but was instead the last in a series I'd never have picked it up. I didn't find that out, though, until I started writing up this post. It functioned fine for me as a stand-alone novel, and I'd recommend it as one. I enjoyed it, but -knowing now that it's the last one- I won't go back and pick up the others. If others follow, I'll definitely read them. You can read the first chapter at the author's website here.

from the back of the book:
Welcome to the Metrozone - post-apocalyptic London of the Future, full of homeless refugees, street gangs, crooked cops and mad cults. Enter Samuil Petrovitch: a Russian emigre with a smart mouth, a dodgy heart and a dodgier past. He's brilliant, selfish, cocky and might just be most unlikely champion a city has ever had. Armed with a genius-level intellect, extensive cybernetic replacements, a built-in AI with god-like capabilities and a plethora of Russian swearwords, he's saved this city from ruin more than once. He's also made a few enemies in the process -Reconstruction America being one of them. So when his adopted daughter Lucy goes missing, he's got a clue who's responsible. And there's no way he can let them get away with it.
favorite quote:
my rightness is entirely independent of their opinion. Information wants to be free, to be known by as many minds as possible and achieve meaning. It's revolution -the emancipation of data.
The Guardian calls it "British sci-fi at its hard-boiled best". Strange Horizons gives it a positive review. SF Revu says, "I suspect that Simon Morden would have a hard time making a trip to the grocery store boring, at least if it's Petrovitch doing the shopping, and The Curve of the Earth offers a wild dogsled ride from one end to the other in true Metrozone fashion."

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Dead Simple

Dead Simple is a 2005 mystery novel by Peter James. It's first in the ongoing Roy Grace series. This was a quick, easy read, with interesting characters and a sympathetic detective. The plot had little in it to suit me, but I think the detective is promising. I'll pick up the next one in the series when I see it and try it on for size.

from the back of the book:
It was meant to be a harmless stag night prank. A few hours later four of his best friends are dead and Michael Harrison has disappeared. With only three days to the wedding, Detective Superintendent Grace - a man haunted by the shadow of his own missing wife - is contacted by Michael's beautiful, distraught fiancée, Ashley Harper. Grace discovers that the one man who ought to know Michael Harrison's whereabouts is saying nothing. But then he has a lot to gain - more than anyone realizes. For one man's disaster is another man's fortune... Dead simple...
Reviewing the Evidence says,
It's a page-turner in the best sense of the word where you'll find yourself turning the pages at the same speed as the mouse's legs rotate in the Tom and Jerry cartoon. And ostensibly it's a police procedural featuring a faintly flawed hero who isn't a super-cop. But there's a heavy dash of suspense and just a soupcon of supernatural to help the mix along.
Eurocrime says, "The book's plot twists and turns, it is often far fetched but always gripping, and keeps you involved right to the end." Kirkus Reviews likes it at first but calls the last quarter of the book "incredible" concluding, "Three-quarters of a great suspenser that doesn’t know when to quit."

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Revive the Roundhouse

Image from Wikipedia

The Mid-South Coliseum is a storied Memphis venue that has fallen on hard times. It used to house concerts by such acts as Elvis and the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. It was home to the United States Wrestling Association. It hosted many a basketball game and ice shows and roller derby and hockey games and cat shows. The Ringling Brothers Circus performed here. There were a lot of graduation ceremonies and church conventions held here and other city-wide community events. Some Cotton Carnival events were held here. The Mid-South Fair used it.

It closed after a 2006 decision that bringing it into compliance with ADA regulations would be cost-prohibitive, but there are a lot of people who think the building should not be demolished. If Sears Crosstown can be saved then so can the Mid-South Coliseum. There are events that want a space larger than a club venue but that don't need something the size of the Fed-Ex Forum. I just do not believe the Fed-Ex Forum decision-makers would allow their non-compete clause to contribute to a decision to tear down the Coliseum. We need a mid-sized venue like this, and we are losing a lot of events to North Mississippi because of this issue.

Save the Coliseum!

This past week-end there was an event held on the grounds to raise awareness of the issues and options. There was a lot of music:

Food trucks and vendor booths and basketball goals and wrestling.

We left before the wrestling started. Surely the Powers-That-Be will realize that it is more cost-effective to rehab this historic structure than to tear it down and... do what with it? Oh, nobody has a plan for a better use of the space? Well. that's just brilliant. I'm sure they'll think of something trendy that'll appeal to a key constituency.

See my coke above? That's the drink I'm contributing to the weekly Tuesday link-up at Bleubeard and Elizabeth's blog.

Monday, May 25, 2015



by Pam and Terry, Memphis musicians. They have a Facebook page here where they announce local appearances.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Memphis Botanic Garden 2nd Annual Herbal Celebration

The Memphis Botanic Garden held their 2nd annual Herbal Celebration this past Friday. I went in time for the 11:00 speaker and was told I had missed my chance at a lot of the plants. It seems the plant sale sold out of a lot of their offerings soon after they opened at 10:00. Wow! I didn't know.

There were vendors set up in booths along the walkway selling handmade wooden items; body scrubs and bath salts; yard decorations; canned foods; and herbal remedies, soaps and skincare items. They had a lunch booth set up with chicken salad and such. There were 5 different speakers set up during the day covering uses of herbs and how to grow them. There was a guided tour through their herb garden:

It was a delightful day. I even found 2 of the plants I had hoped to find:

yarrow and purple coneflower. I'm already looking forward to next year.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Wolf River Greenway

This section of the Wolf River Greenway connects the Germantown section with the arboretum loop. There is one vehicle entrance with parking and a couple of bike/pedestrian access points close to the street. This is the view from the parking lot:

There are several interpretive signs along the trail:

The flowers across from the pond were lovely:

The trail is easily accessed and easy to walk:

The plan is to extend the Greenway along the Wolf River all the way to the Mississippi River, which will be wonderful.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Orpheum 42

The Daughter and I were walking down Beale Street one day discussing Mary, the Orpheum Theater's ghost, when we happened to see this 42.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Black Moth

1st edition book cover from Wikipedia

The Black Moth is a 1921 novel by Georgette Heyer. Set in the mid-1700s, this is a historical romance novel available online and chosen to fit the "Romance Novel" category in the 2015 Read Harder Book Challenge. I don't read romance novels. I read some historical romance novels when I was in junior high and early high school (in my early teens) but not since then. I have read one paranormal romance novel about 10 years ago only because I knew the author, but I didn't care for the subject matter, the "romance" aspect of it or the awkward sex scenes (numerous references to "his manhood" got old). It's just not my "thing". I knew I didn't want to spend money to meet this challenge and was glad when I found this public domain work listed in a Wikipedia article as an example of the genre.

Wikipedia says of the English author (1902-1974):
Heyer essentially established the historical romance genre and its subgenre Regency romance. Her Regencies were inspired by Jane Austen, but unlike Austen, who wrote about and for the times in which she lived, Heyer was forced to include copious information about the period so that her readers would understand the setting. To ensure accuracy, Heyer collected reference works and kept detailed notes on all aspects of Regency life. While some critics thought the novels were too detailed, others considered the level of detail to be Heyer's greatest asset.

Heyer continued writing until her death in July 1974. At that time, 48 of her novels were still in print;
I still don't like romance novels, but reading this fun, quick, light-hearted book brought back fond memories of time spent reading historical romances in my youth. And in this one there was no talk of anyone's hard stirring pillar of throbbing manhood. Honestly, I don't know how people read that kind of thing.

There is a prologue, and then Chapter 1 (of 29) begins:

CHADBER was the name of the host, florid of countenance, portly of person, and of manner pompous and urbane. Solely within the walls of the Chequers lay his world, that inn having been acquired by his great-grandfather as far back as the year 1667, when the jovial Stuart King sat on the English throne, and the Hanoverian Electors were not yet dreamed of.

A Tory was Mr. Chadber to the backbone. None so bitter 'gainst the little German as he, and surely none had looked forward more eagerly to the advent of the gallant Charles Edward. If he confined his patriotism to drinking success to Prince Charlie's campaign, who shall blame him? And if, when sundry Whig gentlemen halted at the Chequers on their way to the coast, and, calling for a bottle of Rhenish, bade him toss down a glass himself with a health to his Majesty, again who shall blame Mr. Chadber for obeying? What was a health one way or another when you had rendered active service to two of his Stuart Highness's adherents?

It was Mr. Chadber's boast, uttered only to his admiring Tory neighbours, that he had, at the risk of his own life, given shelter to two fugitives of the disastrous 'Forty-five, who had come so far out of their way as quiet Fallowfield. That no one had set eyes on either of the men was no reason for doubting an honest landlord's word. But no one would have thought of doubting any statement that Mr. Chadber might make. Mine host of the Chequers was a great personage in the town, being able both to read and to write, and having once, when young, travelled as far north as London town, staying there for ten days and setting eyes on no less a person than the great Duke of Marlborough himself when that gentleman was riding along the Strand on his way to St. James's.

Also, it was a not-to-be-ignored fact that Mr. Chadber's home-brewed ale was far superior to that sold by the landlord of the rival inn at the other end of the village.

Altogether he was a most important character, and no one was more aware of his importance than his worthy self.

To "gentlemen born," whom, he protested, he could distinguish at a glance, he was almost obsequiously polite, but on clerks and underlings, and men who bore no signs of affluence about their persons, he wasted none of his deference.

Thus it was that, when a little green-clad lawyer alighted one day from the mail coach and entered the coffee-room at the Chequers, he was received with pomposity and scarce-veiled condescension.

He was nervous, it seemed, and more than a little worried. He offended Mr. Chadber at the outset, when he insinuated that he was come to meet a gentleman who might perhaps be rather shabbily clothed, rather short of purse, and even of rather unsavoury repute. Very severely did Mr. Chadber give him to understand that guests of that description were entirely unknown at the Chequers.

There was an air of mystery about the lawyer, and it appeared almost as though he were striving to probe mine host. Mr. Chadber bridled a little, and became aloof and haughty.

When the lawyer dared openly to ask if he had had any dealings with highwaymen of late, he was very properly and thoroughly affronted.

The lawyer became suddenly more at ease. He eyed Mr. Chadber speculatively, holding a pinch of snuff to one thin nostril

"Perhaps you have staying here a certain–ah–Sir–Anthony–Ferndale?" he hazarded.

The gentle air of injury fell from Mr. Chadber. Certainly he had, and come only yesterday a-purpose to meet his solicitor.

The lawyer nodded.

"I am he. Be so good as to apprise Sir Anthony of my arrival."

Mr. Chadber bowed exceeding low, and implored the lawyer not to remain in the draughty coffee-room. Sir Anthony would never forgive him an he allowed his solicitor to await him there. Would he not come to Sir Anthony's private parlour?

The very faintest of smiles creased the lawyer's thin face as he walked along the passage in Mr. Chadber's wake.

He was ushered into a low-ceilinged, pleasant chamber looking out on to the quiet street, and left alone what time Mr. Chadber went in search of Sir Anthony.

The room was panelled and ceilinged in oak, with blue curtains to the windows and blue cushions on the high-backed settle by the fire. A table stood in the centre of the floor, with a white table-cloth thereon and places laid for two. Another smaller table stood by the fireplace, together with a chair and a stool.

The lawyer took silent stock of his surroundings, and reflected grimly on the landlord's sudden change of front. It would appear that Sir Anthony was a gentleman of some standing at the Chequers.

Yet the little man was plainly unhappy, and fell to pacing to and fro, his chin sunk low on his breast, and his hands clasped behind his back. He was come to seek the disgraced son of an Earl, and he was afraid of what he might find.

Six years ago Lord John Carstares, eldest son of the Earl of Wyncham, had gone with his brother, the Hon. Richard, to a card party, and had returned a dishonoured man.

That Jack Carstares should cheat was incredible, ridiculous, and at first no one had believed the tale that so quickly spread. But he had confirmed that tale himself, defiantly and without shame, before riding off, bound, men said, for France and the foreign parts. Brother Richard was left, so said the countryside, to marry the lady they were both in love with. Nothing further had been heard of Lord John, and the outraged Earl forbade his name to be mentioned at Wyncham, swearing to disinherit the prodigal. Richard espoused the fair Lady Lavinia and brought her to live at the great house, strangely forlorn now without Lord John's magnetic presence; but, far from being an elated bridegroom, he seemed to have brought gloom with him from the honeymoon, so silent and so unhappy was he.

Six years drifted slowly by without bringing any news of Lord John, and then, two months ago, journeying from London to Wyncham, Richard's coach had been waylaid, and by a highwayman who proved to be none other than the scapegrace peer.

Richard's feelings may be imagined. Lord John had been singularly unimpressed by anything beyond the humour of the situation. That, however, had struck him most forcibly, and he had burst out into a fit of laughter that had brought a lump into Richard's throat, and a fresh ache into his heart.

Upon pressure John had given his brother the address of the inn, "in case of accidents," and told him to ask for "Sir Anthony Ferndale" if ever he should need him. Then with one hearty handshake, he had galloped off into the darkness. . . .

The lawyer stopped his restless pacing to listen. Down the passage was coming the tap-tap of high heels on the wooden floor, accompanied by a slight rustle as of stiff silks.

The little man tugged suddenly at his cravat. Supposing–supposing debonair Lord John was no longer debonair? Supposing–he dared not suppose anything. Nervously he drew a roll of parchment from his pocket and stood fingering it.

A firm hand was laid on the door-handle, turning it cleanly round. The door opened to admit a veritable apparition, and was closed again with a snap.

The lawyer found himself gazing at a slight, rather tall gentleman who swept him a profound bow, gracefully flourishing his smart three-cornered hat with one hand and delicately clasping cane and perfumed handkerchief with the other. He was dressed in the height of the Versailles fashion, with full-skirted coat of palest lilac laced with silver, small-clothes and stockings of white, and waistcoat of flowered satin. On his feet he wore shoes with high red heels and silver buckles, while a wig of the latest mode, marvellously powdered and curled and smacking greatly of Paris, adorned his shapely head. In the foaming lace of his cravat reposed a diamond pin, and on the slim hand, half covered by drooping laces, glowed and flashed a huge emerald.

The lawyer stared and stared again, and it was not until a pair of deep blue, rather wistful eyes met his in a quizzical glance, that he found his tongue. Then a look of astonishment came into his face, and he took a half step forward.

"Master Jack!" he gasped. "Master–Jack!"

The elegant gentleman came forward and held up a reproving hand. The patch at the corner of his mouth quivered, and the blue eyes danced.

"I perceive that you are not acquainted with me, Mr. Warburton," he said, amusement in his pleasant, slightly drawling voice. "Allow me to present myself: Sir Anthony Ferndale, à vous servir!"

A gleam of humour appeared in the lawyer's own eyes as he clasped the outstretched hand.

"I think you are perhaps not acquainted with yourself, my lord," he remarked drily.

Lord John laid his hat and cane on the small table, and looked faintly intrigued.

"What's your meaning, Mr. Warburton?"

"I am come, my lord, to inform you that the Earl, your father, died a month since."

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Wolf River Arboretum Loop

This section of the Wolf River is a level 1 arboretum. It's a broad, asphalt path, wheelchair accessible, and is well-labeled.

There's a mark at the edge of the path in front of each labeled tree:

There are benches all along the trail:

and nice views of the river:

This loop is just over a mile long, and there were plenty of pedestrians enjoying the day when I was there. Here's a map: