Thursday, November 30, 2017

Riverwoods State Natural Area

The Riverwoods State Natural Area is a 21-acre natural area located in Germantown, TN, which is a Memphis suburb.

I had been to my internist for a regular check-up (all is well), and this park was close by.

See those wooden steps down the hill in the bottom right photo of the four directly above? There are two like that. This is a rustic trail, with no paved sections. On the opposite side of the park from the trailhead pictured at the top of the post the trail connects to the Eastern part of the Wolf River Nature Area and the Wolf River Greenway. Parts of that area are set up as a bike and pedestrian walkway and are accessible:

I didn't go further but will definitely go back to fully explore that area. This link to Google Maps shows how green it is and yet how close to businesses and homes.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Scarlet Street

Scarlet Street is a 1945 film noir directed by Fritz Lang and starring Edward G. Robinson and Joan Bennett. The movie is based on a book that had been previously adapted for film by Jean Renoir as The Bitch.

Robinson plays a hen-pecked husband who gets drawn into a seedy world of crime because of his attraction to a woman. Robinson is a master at whatever he does, and he deserves to be seen.

via youtube:

The New York Times opens its review from the time of its release with this:
Now that the New York State censors have finished playing around with the film "Scarlet Street" (first they banned it and then they passed it, on appeal, with minor cuts), the public may go to see it at Loew's Criterion and decide for itself just how damaging to its morals this picture may be. This being the case, we're not anxious to prejudice any sinners in advance, but we must sound this critical warning: it isn't likely to encourage a life of crime.
Slant Magazine has a review. Empire Online says, "Harsh morality tale presenting a world where goodness is exploited. But it's not textbook film noir, rather, it's dark melodrama with a classic femme fatale and a lot more of black humour." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 100%.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Autumn on My Patio

Please join me for a cup of coffee (or I can heat water for tea) and some pie:

and enjoy a pleasant moment on the patio. We're having sunny weather with highs in the 60sF. You can see how tall and sprawling that wild sunflower is over there on the right:

It takes up entirely too much space here, and there's not really enough sun for it, but I love it and haven't found anything I'd like to go there instead. Maybe an Eastern Redcedar?

I'm joining the T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering hosted by Bleubeard and Elizabeth. Please join us.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Two Thanksgiving Day Gentlemen, by O. Henry

Two Thanksgiving Day Gentlemen is a 1907 short story by O. Henry. You can read it online. It begins,
There is one day that is ours. There is one day when all we Americans who are not self-made go back to the old home to eat saleratus biscuits and marvel how much nearer to the porch the old pump looks than it used to. Bless the day. President Roosevelt gives it to us. We hear some talk of the Puritans, but don't just remember who they were. Bet we can lick 'em, anyhow, if they try to land again. Plymouth Rocks? Well, that sounds more familiar. Lots of us have had to come down to hens since the Turkey Trust got its work in. But somebody in Washington is leaking out advance information to 'em about these Thanksgiving proclamations.

The big city east of the cranberry bogs has made Thanksgiving Day an institution. The last Thursday in November is the only day in the year on which it recognizes the part of America lying across the ferries. It is the one day that is purely American. Yes, a day of celebration, exclusively American.

And now for the story which is to prove to you that we have traditions on this side of the ocean that are becoming older at a much rapider rate than those of England are--thanks to our git-up and enterprise.

Stuffy Pete took his seat on the third bench to the right as you enter Union Square from the east, at the walk opposite the fountain. Every Thanksgiving Day for nine years he had taken his seat there promptly at 1 o'clock. For every time he had done so things had happened to him -Charles Dickensy things that swelled his waistcoat above his heart, and equally on the other side.

But to-day Stuffy Pete's appearance at the annual trysting place seemed to have been rather the result of habit than of the yearly hunger which, as the philanthropists seem to think, afflicts the poor at such extended intervals.

Certainly Pete was not hungry.
You can listen to it read to you here:

O. Henry, 1909

Sunday, November 26, 2017

La Strada

La Strada is an award-winning 1954 Italian film directed by Federico Fellini and starring Anthony Quinn, Richard Basehart, and Giulietta Masina. This will touch your heart if nothing else does.


The full movie is here with English subtitles available in the "settings" menu:

The New York Times calls it a "Tender, Realistic Parable". The Guardian calls it "moving". says it's "one of the true masterpieces of modern cinema".

Roger Ebert gives it 3.5 out of 4 stars. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 97%.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Thanksgiving Day Walk

After our Thanksgiving Day feast we realized we had eaten more than we should've so followed the meal with a little walk.

It gets dark so early these days!

Friday, November 24, 2017

The 400 Blows

The 400 Blows is an award-winning 1959 French New Wave film directed by François Truffaut. A literal translation of the French title, it misses the point entirely and would be better translated in the spirit of the French idiom meaning "to raise hell" or sow wild oats. The movie centers on a boy who always gets in trouble in school and at home.


The New York Times calls it "A Small Masterpiece". Senses of Cinema says, "This triumph effectively launched Truffaut, Léaud and the nouvelle vague onto the world stage."

Roger Ebert has this on his list of great movies, calling it "one of the most intensely touching stories ever made about a young adolescent." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics rating of 100%.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Grateful Thanksgiving

Our Thanksgiving feast will include turkey breast, dressing, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, pie, cake.... I don't cook much for it any more. My Mother died on Thanksgiving Day, and there's a touch of sadness to the holiday now and wrestling with pots and pans has never been a comfort to me.

Tomorrow we will start decorating for Christmas, which seems deeply wrong somehow but there ya go. That tradition began when we were being invited to my in-laws' house for Thanksgiving and so went to my Mother's house the day after. She didn't want to decorate for Christmas by herself and we lived in another town, so she turned the day into a Trim-the-Tree party.

On this day I'm thankful to be living the life I'm living. May all my friends and relatives find gratitude for where they are.

If you're in the mood for a movie, perhaps you'll find one to your liking on this list of Thanksgiving films. Some are short, some long, some serious, some silly. I haven't seen many of them myself.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Act of Violence

Act of Violence is a 1949 film noir directed by Fred Zinnemann and starring Van Heflin, Robert Ryan, Janet Leigh, Mary Astor, Berry Kroeger, Phyllis Thaxter (Martha Kent in the 1978 Superman), Taylor Holmes (Ebeneezer Scrooge in the 1949 TV adaptation of A Christmas Carol narrated by Vincent Price), Connie Gilchrist, and Will Wright. This film deals with issues of what happens when the past war experiences intrude on post-war happiness.


The NYT praises the direction. Rotten Tomatoes has a 90% critics rating.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Painting Techniques

It was the teapot in the main photo for the digital printing section that convinced me to share this article for T Stands for Tuesday. You can see the photo on its own at this link.

I'm no artist, but I found myself intrigued by these alternatives to brushes for creating paintings. Artsy has examples with photos and explanations for painting with splattering and dripping, pouring, pulling and scraping, body printing, air brushing, and digital printing. I can see me trying these on a small scale just for fun. Well, all but the naked body printing. That ain't gonna happen. Airbrushing, hmmm, I wonder what small substitute for an industrial tool I could use for that....

Here's one of their examples for each of the techniques:

Splattering and Dripping

Jackson Pollock, 'Number 1, 1949'


Helen Frankenthaler, Cool Summer 

Pulling and Scraping

Gerhard Richter, Bach (1)

Body Printing

Yves Klein, Anthropometry of the Blue Period (ANT 82)


Ed Ruscha, OH and NO

Digital Painting

David Hockney, Yosemite II, October 16th 2011

Here's my teapot, teacup, and raisin bread toast I'll be having:

as I visit the bloggers who gather weekly to share a beverage. T Stands for Tuesday is hosted by Bleubeard and Elizabeth. You'll find a warm welcome if you join us.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Love in a Cold Climate

Love in a Cold Climate is a 1949 novel by Nancy Mitford. I read and enjoyed the first novel in this book some time ago, and I liked this one just as much. A fun, quick, easy read with memorable characters.

from the dust jacket:
The Radlett family, which achieved fame in these two witty and mocking stories of the English country nobility, was closely modeled on Nancy Mitford's own. Her father, David Bertram Ogilvy Freeman-Mitford, second Lord Redesdale, is clearly recognizable in the terrifying Uncle Matthew, who hunts his children with bloodhounds, grinds down several sets of dentures a year, and believes that "abroad is a sewer." Many people have recognized Nancy Mitford and her sisters in the fictional Radett children. Although this recognition has added spice to the two novels, they are highly entertaining on their own merits. The Pursuit of Love is the story of Linda Radlett, who, after two unsuccessful marriages, finally finds love (as Nancy Mitford did) in Paris. Love in a Cold Climate tells of the return of a Canadian heir, Cedric, ("like little Lord Fauntleroy") to his ancestral estate.
The Guardian says it is "still sparkling, despite its age".

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Murder on the Orient Express (2017)

Murder on the Orient Express is a 2017 adaptation of the Agatha Christie mystery novel. It's directed by Kenneth Branagh and Branagh plays Hercule Poirot. Also starring are Penélope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Josh Gad, Derek Jacobi, Leslie Odom Jr., Michelle Pfeiffer, and Daisy Ridley. I went in fully prepared to despise this, but I liked it. You could argue that David Suchet is definitive and that we don't need more remakes and adaptations, but I'm happy to find this enjoyable. Ignore those nay-saying reviewers; I certainly am. I hope this is the first in a series.

And please don't let the mustache distract you, for pity's sake.


The New York Times has a mixed review and says there are "few surprises". Really? Isn't that a good thing for an adaptation of a well-known story?

Common Sense Media calls it a "Colorful, thoughtful, classical mystery". Empire Online calls it "An enjoyable journey with a stellar cast".

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Football 42

Watching a recent UEFA Champions League group game between Bayern Munich and the Scottish Celtics, I noticed a 42 on the back of one of the Celtic players. Meet Callum McGregor!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Kingsman: the Secret Service

Kingsman: the Secret Service is a 2014 film, a lighthearted spy comedy that's a lot of fun to watch. The really big names here are Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson, and Michael Caine. The sequel was released earlier in the Fall.


Rolling Stone gives it 3 out of 4 stars and says, "Kingsman is a high-octane combo of action and comedy that breathes sweet and surreal new life into the big-screen spy game". Rotten Tomatoes has an audience score of 84%.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Death in Venice

Death in Venice is a 1912 novella (73 pages long in my edition) by Thomas Mann. I read the 1930 translation.

from the back of the book:
[Death in Venice] is a haunting masterpiece about an eminent write, Gustave Aschenbach, who is weary of his work and travels to Venice for a vacation. But his notions of relaxation quickly give way to an upheaval at once disturbing and exhilarating, as he falls passionately in love with a beautiful Polish boy.
You can read a translation from 1912 online here. It begins,
Gustav Aschenbach, or von Aschenbach, as his official surname had been since his fiftieth birthday, had taken another solitary walk from his apartment in Munich’s Prinzregentenstraße on a spring afternoon of the year 19.., which had shown the continent such a menacing grimace for a few months. Overexcited by the dangerous and difficult work of that morning that demanded a maximum of caution, discretion, of forcefulness and exactitude of will, the writer had been unable, even after lunch, to stop the continued revolution of that innermost productive drive of his, that motus animi continuus, which after Cicero is the heart of eloquence, and had been thwarted trying to find that soothing slumber which he, in view of his declining resistance, needed so dearly. Therefore he had gone outside soon after tea, hoping that fresh air and exertion would regenerate him and reward him with a productive evening.

It was early May, and, after some cold and wet weeks, a faux midsummer had begun. The Englische Garten, although only slightly leafy, was humid as in August and had been teeming with carriages and strollers where it was close to the city. At the Aumeister, where increasingly serene paths had led him, he had surveyed the popular and lively Wirtsgarten, on the bounds of which some cabs and carriages were parking, he had started his saunter home across the fields outside of the park while the light was fading, and waited, since he felt exhausted and a thunderstorm seemed imminent over Föhring, for the tram which was to carry him in a straight line back to the city. He happened to find the station and its surroundings completely deserted. Neither on the paved Ungererstraße, on which the lonely-glistening rails stretched towards Schwabing, nor on the Föhringer Chaussee a cart could be seen; nothing stirred behind the fences of the stonecutters, where crosses, commemorative plates, and monuments for sale formed a second, uninhabited cemetery and the Byzantine edifice of the mortuary chapel on the other side of the street lay silent in the last light of the parting day. Its front wall, decorated with Greek crosses and emblems in bright colors, furthermore sports symmetrically aligned biblical inscriptions concerning the afterlife, such as: “THEY ENTER THE HOUSE OF GOD” or “THE ETERNAL LIGHT MAY SHINE UPON THEM”; and the waiter for a time had found a reasonable entertainment in reading the phrases and letting his mind’s eye wander in their iridescent mystery, when he, returning from his reverie, had noticed a man in the portico, close to the apocalyptic beasts which guard the staircase, whose wholly unusual appearance steered his thoughts into a completely different direction.
The photo at the top of the page is of the boy who was the inspiration for the story.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Coffee at Audubon Park Lake

It was such a lovely fall afternoon The Husband and I decided to take some coffee and enjoy time at Audubon Park Lake.

Audubon Park is a nice urban park not far from where we live. This lake is towards the east side of the park.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Still Life with Apples and Pitcher

Still Life with Apples and Pitcher:

by Camille Pissarro, who died on November 13, 1903, in Paris at the age of 73.

My wine glasses aren't even really wine glasses but are short and stemless and all-purpose:

They suit my needs for my nearly-daily wine with dinner. And, for those of you who might remember my trips down the grocery store wine aisles, the wine in the glass is my current favorite: Sterling Vintner's Collection Cabernet Sauvignon.

Please join the weekly blogger gathering and share a drink with us at T Stands for Tuesday.

Monday, November 13, 2017

A Changed Man

A Changed Man is a 2005 novel by Francine Prose. I bought this used some time ago, and it's been on my to-be-read shelf ever since. So many books, so little time.... I found this a little too optimistic for my taste.

from the back of the book:
What is charismatic Holocaust survivor Meyer Maslow to think when a rough-looking young neo-Nazi named Vincent Nolan walks into the Manhattan office of Maslow's human rights foundation and declares that he wants to "save guys like me from becoming guys like me"? As Vincent turns into the kind of person who might actually be able to do this, he also transforms those around him: Meyer Maslow,
who fears heroism has become a desk job; the foundation's dedicated fund-raiser, Bonnie Kalen, an appealingly vulnerable divorced single mother;
and even Bonnie's teenage son.

Francine Prose's A Changed Man is a darkly comic and masterfully inventive novel that poses essential questions about human nature, morality, and the capacity for personal reinvention.
The New York Times calls it "powerful, funny and exquisitely nuanced". The Guardian has a less positive review saying, "Her faith in America and the essential innocence of its inhabitants turns what could have been a challenging read into a witless fable for our times." New York Magazine opens with, "In A Changed Man, Francine Prose unloads on do-gooder hypocrisy and a media with blinders on." The New Yorker concludes, "As a sendup, the book is quite fun, but too often Prose’s writing falls victim to the very earnestness that she satirizes."

Kirkus Reviews calls it "An edgy, riveting tale, one of Prose’s most interesting." Publishers Weekly says, "this tale hits comic high notes even as it probes serious issues".

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Lichterman Nature Center in Autumn

The Lichterman Nature Center is a certified arboretum and nature center in Memphis, TN. You can see a map at this link. I walked the lake and forest trails this time.

Lake Trail:

They had a display of scarecrows for the fall season:

Forest Trail:

This is an enjoyable park to walk in, although I'll have to admit I preferred it when it was less developed and less geared to school groups. Even so, it's still a wonderful place to experience nature and seasonal changes.