Friday, July 31, 2015

Warfield Point Park

Warfield Point Park, just south of Greenville, Mississippi, provides a wonderful vantage point for viewing the Mighty Mississippi River. The chart on the right on the sign pictured above lists the worst floods in the history of Greenville. Though it came close -very close- the 2011 flood didn't displace the 1927 disaster.

There's an observation tower:

You can climb up the stairs to get a better view:

But the view is also fine on the ground along the boardwalk:

This sign shows you where you are:

There are little tidbits of information on the rope along the riverfront:

I live in Memphis and am used to views of the Big Muddy, but it's always fun to see the differences between places and look at things from a different perspective.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Last Resort

The Last Resort is a 1998 novel by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alison Lurie. I generally enjoy Lurie's books, and I loved this one. Engaging, thought-provoking, and easy to read.

from the dust jacket:
Like a loyal Victorian wife, Jenny had devoted her life to her much older husband, the famous writer and naturalist Wilkie Walker, bringing up their children and editing his best-selling books. But this year, as winter approaches, Wilkie is increasingly depressed and withdrawn. At her wit's , Jenny persuades him to visit Key West -the Last Resort.

But Key West is not called the Last Resort for nothing. Lives can turn upside down here, and even short-term visitors can have experiences they never imagined. Within weeks of their arrival, Jenny not only has a part-time job but is becoming involved with assorted local characters, including Gerry, an ex-beatnik poet, and Lee, the dramatically attractive manager of a women-only guest house. Wilkie, meanwhile, is planning his own "accidental" death by drowning -a task that turns out to be more difficult than he thought- and trying to avoid the attentions of a breathless young female fan.

The Last Resort is Pulitzer Prize winner Alison Lurie's first novel in ten years. It is a perfect evocation of Key West and another dazzling demonstration of Lurie's talent for high comedy and social comment.
favorite quotes:
She was reminded of a theory of her husband's, that travelers were always drawn to landscapes that echoed the internal geography of their minds. Calm, even-tempered, slightly lazy people felt most comfortable in the plains or beside clear, placid lakes. Somewhat more active types were at home among rolling hills and sparkling streams; while the extremely adventurous and intense responded instinctively to alpine cliffs and craggs and deep ravines and the pounding of towering cascades.
Maybe it's like Elizabeth Kubler-Ross's stages of dying, he thought. If death was what you'd expected and sought for months, the news that you weren't necessarily going to die soon produced the same series of emotions: first denial, then rage, then bargaining. After that there was nothing left but stage four, acceptance.
"When you get to be my age, you start thinking about your family. Like that Gauguin painting. Where do we come from, Who are we, Where are we going?"
.... you grow older and the future shrinks, you have only two choices: you can live in the fading past, or, like children do, in the bright full present.
Here's the Gauguin painting referenced:

Paul Gauguin - D'ou venons-nous.jpg

The New York Times calls it "sparkling" and "smart". Publishers Weekly says it's "a perfect summer read: entertainment that is at once highly intelligent and mildly edifying." The Independent says, "This is a charming, sunny book that seems infused with all the warmth of its setting." Kirkus Reviews says it's "Beach reading with brains and bite".

I've also read Foreign Affairs and Truth and Consequences, both of which I liked. I started but did not finish Only Children, which is a family story told from the point of view of a nine year old girl; I don't tend to like books featuring child protagonists and gave up on it fairly soon.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Greenville Cypress Preserve

While in Greenville, MS, I made sure to go to the Cypress Preserve, a 16 acre area just off the highway just south of the riverboat-shaped welcome center. It was established in 1940 and maintained by the Greenville Garden Club, the oldest garden club in the state. In 2002 management was turned over to the Greenville Cypress Preserve Trust. They are doing a good job if I'm any judge. (Well, I'm not really any judge, but the place looked great to me.)

There is a brochure and a trail guide reproduced online here, which includes a map and information to aid in appreciating the landscape.

There are 3 trails: 1) a 1/4 mile meadow trail; 2) a 1/3 mile woodland trail; and 3) a 1/2 mile cypress trail. There are helpful interpretive signs all along the paths.

Here are some of the photos I took of the cypresses:

Here's a closer look at the cypress tree leaves:

And some new plants that have sprouted in the fallen cypress logs:

They've placed a home for wood ducks:

Do you see the cypress knees?

The cypress trees were my favorite part of the preserve, but the woodland and meadow trails also had a lot to offer:

ScenicUSA says it's "Popular among photographers, birders, and joggers". Trip Advisor gives it 4 out of 5 stars with 5 reviews. This family travel site has great photos, calls it "One of the most unique urban parks we’ve ever visited" and says it was "worth the detour". There's a slideshow embedded below, but do yourself a favor and mute the music:

I would gladly go back here given the opportunity. What a gem!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Coffee Homeground

Coffee Homeground:

by Kate Bush, who will be celebrating her 57th birthday day after tomorrow.

Lyrics excerpt:
Well, you won't get me with your Belladonna, in the coffee,
And you won't get me with your arsenic, in the pot of tea,
And you won't get me in a hole to rot, with your hemlock
On the rocks.

Please join the T Party over at Bleubeard and Elizabeth's blog, where people are sharing tea or coffee and a lot of art. The Artist Trading Card (ATC) swap in celebration of the 2-year anniversary of these weekly gatherings was great fun for me, as I learned how to make the ATCs.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Maybe It Was Memphis

Maybe It Was Memphis:

by Pam Tillis.

Lyrics, written by Anderson, Michael James:
Looking at you through a misty moonlight
Katydid sing like a symphony
Porch swing swayin' like tenessee lulaby
Melody blowin through a wilow tree

What was I supposed to do
Standing there looking at you
Lonely boy far from home

Maybe it was Memphis
Maybe it was Southern summer nights

Maybe it was you maybe it was me
But it sure felt right

Read about you in a Faulkner novel
Met you once in a William's play
Heard about you in a country love song
Summer nights beauty took my breath away

What was I supposed to do
Standing there looking at you
Lonely boy far from home

Maybe it was Memphis
Maybe it was Southern summer nights
Maybe it was you maybe it was me
But it sure felt right

Maybe it was Memphis
Maybe it was Southern summer nights
Maybe it was you maybe it was me
But it sure felt right

Every night now since I've been back home
Lie awake drifting in my memory
Think about you on my mama's front porch swing
Talking that way so soft to me

What was I supposed to do
Standing there looking at you
Lonely boy far from home

Maybe it was Memphis
Maybe it was Southern summer nights
Maybe it was you maybe it was me
But it sure felt right

Maybe it was Memphis
Maybe it was Southern summer nights
Maybe it was you maybe it was me
But it sure felt right

Maybe it was you maybe it was me
But it sure felt right

Sunday, July 26, 2015


Caught is a 1949 film directed by Max Ophuls and starring James Mason, Barbara Bel Geddes and Robert Ryan. A young ambitious woman marries for money only to discover her husband is insane.

via Youtube:

Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 100%. TCM has an overview.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

42 Jackpot!

Walking down Park Avenue one day I saw all 3 of these 42s in the space of one block.

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Queen of Spades (1949)

The Queen of Spades is a horror story about what happens when you are willing to sell your soul for success at the gaming tables. Subtle and atmospheric, with more left to the imagination than is overtly revealed, this is worth watching again.

You can watch it online at this link. Here is a trailer:

DVD Talk says,
Like Rebecca, Queen of Spades has horror overtones while remaining a romance. But the creation of a world possibly dominated by fantastic forces is compelling, and we almost forget that what we see really occurring could mostly have rational explanations - the old Countess never admits to any pact of her own, after all, and her fears could just be old age. But the overly-rational Herman certainly believes that he's embroiled in a supernatural world, and that's where the picture works. It's a unique thriller.
BFI Screen Online closes with this: "This is one of British cinema's greatest ghost stories, from a director described by Martin Scorsese as "a uniquely intelligent, passionate artist"". The Guardian has a nice -though-short- appreciation. The Telegraph calls it "An underseen treasure from the perpetually-underrated British master Thorold Dickinson". Slant Magazine says, "this Poe-like tale of deceit and ghostly vengeance is sumptuous and effective." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics rating of 100%.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

About Face

About Face (2009) is one of the Commissario Guido Brunetti books by Donna Leon. I've read Dressed for Death (the 3rd in the series) and enjoyed it. This one is #18 (of 24 so far). I pick these up as I find them and am not reading them in order. I'm glad there are so many of them. I can look out over many happy reads in my future.

from the back of the book:
As the son-in-law of the Conte and Contessa Falier, Commissario Guido Brunetti is accustomed to mingling with Italy's rich and powerful. But never has one of their friends captivated him like Franca Marinello, the infamous La Superlitata, whose once-beautiful face has been disfigured by excessive plastic surgery. [ed: the disfigurement wasn't caused by elective surgery, but that is the common gossip.] Soon after meeting her at a dinner party -where he is charmed by her love of Virgil and Cicero- Franca visits him at the Questura with a request that sounds eerily connected to his current murder investigation.
The Independent closes with this:
The details of home-cooked meals and family arguments, alongside a never-ending flow of crime, add a depth to Leon's stories and are what makes her characters so believable and, in turn, her books so readable.
Italian Mysteries says it's "as subtle, gripping and topical as ever, bringing the sights, sounds and smells of Venice flooding to life." Eurocrime calls it "a perfect miniature of a book with a social sting in its tail; an elegy for the lost (?) traditional Italian way of life; and, almost by the way, a detective story." Kirkus Reviews has a positive review.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Greenville, MS

Last month I took an overnight trip to Greenville, MS. I only had one day to see the sights. Now you might think that one day would be enough in a little town like Greenville, but you would be wrong. I couldn't fit it all in!

This is their visitor center, shaped like a river boat:

There's a museum on the second floor, and I was particularly struck by this exhibit on Mississippi Slim:

One of the first things you'll want to know is why the water is brown. It undergoes regular testing and is perfectly safe. I drank it, but it seems to put some people off. This is what it looked like in my hotel sink:

The color is caused by cypress roots in the underground water source. It can be removed, but I read that requires expensive additions to their water treatment plant. Having experienced their roads first-hand, I'd guess money for infrastructure improvements is in short supply. I've read that some say the water is responsible for the writers who've been associated with Greenville in the past and that the move to drinking bottled water explains the dearth of such talent now.

There's a park devoted to the honor and memory of those authors:

I was particularly struck by the Walker Percy quotes:

The Percy family has a family plot at the Greenville cemetery, and there's a striking monument there called The Patriot:

Walker Percy himself is buried in Louisiana.

I found several walks to take during my time in Greenville. I'll write them up separately.