Friday, October 19, 2018

The Cigarette Case


The Cigarette Case is a 1911 short story by Oliver Onions. It can be read online here. You can listen to it via Librivox here. It begins,
"A cigarette, Loder?" I said, offering my case. For the moment Loder was not smoking; for long enough he had not been talking.

"Thanks," he replied, taking not only the cigarette, but the case also. The others went on talking; Loder became silent again; but I noticed that he kept my cigarette case in his hand, and looked at it from time to time with an interest that neither its design nor its costliness seemed to explain. Presently I caught his eye.

"A pretty case," he remarked, putting it down on the table. "I once had one exactly like it."

I answered that they were in every shop window.

"Oh yes," he said, putting aside any question of rarity. "I lost mine."

"Oh?…"

He laughed. "Oh, that's all right -I got it back again- don't be afraid I'm going to claim yours. But the way I lost it-found it -the whole thing- was rather curious. I've never been able to explain it. I wonder if you could?"

I answered that I certainly couldn't till I'd heard it, whereupon Loder, taking up the silver case again and holding it in his hand as he talked, began:

"This happened in Provence, when I was about as old as Marsham there- and every bit as romantic. I was there with Carroll -you remember poor old Carroll and what a blade of a boy he was- as romantic as four Marshams rolled into one. (Excuse me, Marsham, won't you? It's a romantic tale, you see, or at least the setting is.) We were in Provence, Carroll and I; twenty-four or thereabouts; romantic, as I say; and -and this happened.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Death Bell

Death Bell is a 2008 Korean horror film. I found this one confusing. I had trouble keeping up with who was who and what their relationships were.


Variety says it has "a neat concept" .


Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Chirpin' the Blues

Chirpin' the Blues:



sung by Memphis-born Alberta Hunter, who died on this date in 1984 at 89 years old.

Lyrics excerpt:
I woke up this mornin', heard somebody calling me
I woke up this mornin', heard somebody calling me
My man had packed his grip, said he was leaving for Tennessee
Bad luck and trouble, looks like they're on me to stay
Bad luck and trouble, looks like they're on me to stay
But good luck is old fortune and it's bound to fall my way

This was the first song I ever heard her sing (not in person, but on the radio back in the day):



She's an absolute delight! Listen to her on Youtube or on Spotify:



Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Two Cafes by Lesser Ury

Cafe Bauer:


Im Café Victoria, Berlin (1904):


Lesser Ury was a Prussian-born German Impressionist painter, who died on October 18, 1931. Here's a short biography:


Please join the weekly blogger T Stands for Tuesday gathering, where sharing a drink in your post and visiting the other bloggers makes for an enjoyable time.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad


Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad is a 1904 ghost story by M.R. James. It begins,
'I suppose you will be getting away pretty soon, now Fall term is over, Professor,' said a person not in the story to the Professor of Ontography, soon after they had sat down next to each other at a feast in the hospitable hall of St James's College.

The Professor was young, neat, and precise in speech. 'Yes,' he said; 'my friends have been making me take up golf this term, and I mean to go to the East Coast - in point of fact to Burnstow - (I dare say you know it) for a week or ten days, to improve my game. I hope to get off tomorrow.'

'Oh, Parkins,' said his neighbour on the other side, 'if you are going to Burnstow, I wish you would look at the site of the Templars' preceptory, and let me know if you think it would be any good to have a dig there in the summer.'

It was, as you might suppose, a person of antiquarian pursuits who said this, but, since he merely appears in this prologue, there is no need to give his entitlements.

'Certainly,' said Parkins, the Professor: 'if you will describe to me whereabouts the site is, I will do my best to give you an idea of the lie of the land when I get back; or I could write to you about it, if you would tell me where you are likely to be.'

'Don't trouble to do that, thanks. It's only that I'm thinking of taking my family in that direction in the Long, and it occurred to me that, as very few of the English preceptories have ever been properly planned, I might have an opportunity of doing something useful on offdays.'

The Professor rather sniffed at the idea that planning out a preceptory could be described as useful. His neighbour continued:

'The site - I doubt if there is anything showing above ground - must be down quite close to the beach now. The sea has encroached tremendously, as you know, all along that bit of coast. I should think, from the map, that it must be about three-quarters of a mile from the Globe Inn, at the north end of the town.

You can read it online here and listen to it here. It has been adapted for television twice, once in 1968 directed by Jonathan Miller and starring Michael Hordern:



and again in 2010 starring John Hurt:

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Demons

Demons is a 1985 Italian horror film directed by Lamberto Bava. The soundtrack may be the best thing about it. Very 80s.

trailer:


watch it here:



HorrorNews.net concludes a mixed review with this: "by keeping an open mind and a sense of humor, all hope is not lost and who knows, maybe the viewer will actually enjoy it. Modern it isn’t, but for the true fan of horror…". Classic-Horror.com has a mixed review and says, "If you're new to Italian horror, do not start here."

You can check out my other blog posts on horror movies I've watched here, where you can scroll through posts just on that subject.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Rooum


Rooum is a 1911 ghost story from the collection Widdershins by Oliver Onions. In it an engineer is pursued by an unknown, unseen presence. You can read it online here. It begins,
For all I ever knew to the contrary, it was his own name; and something about him, name or man or both, always put me in mind, I can't tell you how, of negroes. As regards the name, I dare say it was something huggermugger in the mere sound —something that I classed, for no particular reason, with the dark and ignorant sort of words, such as "Obi" and "Hoodoo." I only know that after I learned that his name was Rooum, I couldn't for the life of me have thought of him as being called anything else.

The first impression that you got of his head was that it was a patchwork of black and white—black bushy hair and short white beard, or else the other way about. As a matter of fact, both hair and beard were piebald, so that if you saw him in the gloom a dim patch of white showed down one side of his head, and dark tufts cropped up here and there in his beard. His eyebrows alone were entirely black, with a little sprouting of hair almost joining them. And perhaps his skin helped to make me think of negroes, for it was very dark, of the dark brown that always seems to have more than a hint of green behind it. His forehead was low, and scored across with deep horizontal furrows.

We never knew when he was going to turn up on a job. We might not have seen him for weeks, but his face was always as likely as not to appear over the edge of a crane-platform just when that marvellous mechanical intuition of his was badly needed. He wasn't certificated. He wasn't even trained, as the rest of us understood training; and he scoffed at the drawing-office, and laughed outright at logarithms and our laborious methods of getting out quantities. But he could set sheers and tackle in a way that made the rest of us look silly. I remember once how, through the parting of a chain, a sixty-foot girder had come down and lay under a ruck of other stuff, as the bottom chip lies under a pile of spellikins—a hopeless-looking smash. Myself, I'm certificated twice or three times over; but I can only assure you that I wanted to kick myself when, after I'd spent a day and a sleepless night over the job, I saw the game of tit-tat-toe that Rooum made of it in an hour or two. Certificated or not, a man isn't a fool who can do that sort of thing. And he was one of these fellows, too, who can "find water" —tell you where water is and what amount of getting it is likely to take, by just walking over the place. We aren't certificated up to that yet.

He was offered good money to stick to us —to stick to our firm— but he always shook his black-and-white piebald head. He'd never be able to keep the bargain if he were to make it, he told us quite fairly. I know there are these chaps who can't endure to be clocked to their work with a patent time-clock in the morning and released of an evening with a whistle —and it's one of the things no master can ever understand. So Rooum came and went erratically, showing up maybe in Leeds or Liverpool, perhaps next on Plymouth breakwater, and once he turned up in an out-of-the-way place in Glamorganshire just when I was wondering what had become of him.

The way I got to know him (got to know him, I mean, more than just to nod) was that he tacked himself on to me one night down Vauxhall way, where we were setting up some small plant or other. We had knocked off for the day, and I was walking in the direction of the bridge when he came up. We walked along together; and we had not gone far before it appeared that his reason for joining me was that he wanted to know "what a molecule was."

I stared at him a bit.

"What do you want to know that for?" I said. "What does a chap like you, who can do it all backwards, want with molecules?"

Oh, he just wanted to know, he said.

So, on the way across the bridge, I gave it him more or less from the book —molecular theory and all the rest of it. But, from the childish questions he put, it was plain that he hadn't got the hang of it at all. "Did the molecular theory allow things to pass through one another?" he wanted to know; "Could things pass through one another?" and a lot of ridiculous things like that. I gave it up.

"You're a genius in your own way, Rooum," I said finally; "you know these things without the books we plodders have to depend on. If I'd luck like that, I think I should be content with it."

But he didn't seem satisfied, though he dropped the matter for that time. But I had his acquaintance, which was more than most of us had. He asked me, rather timidly, if I'd lend him a book or two. I did so, but they didn't seem to contain what he wanted to know, and he soon returned them, without remark.
*******

If you're interested in other weird tales and ghost stories and such that I've written blog posts on in the past, you can scroll through them here.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Whispering Corridors

Whispering Corridors is a 1998 Korean horror movie, the first in a series. This is more sad than scary. Schools are damaging places.

trailer:




HorrorNews.net calls it "a must". Classic-Horror.com says, "when the film is good, it’s really, really good" and credits the director while finding fault with the story itself.

I've also watched Voice (2005), which is 4th of the 5 films in the series.

*******

The Husband is on vacation and is watching some old monster movies with me to celebrate the October/Halloween season. I rarely re-blog movies I've already seen, but I do have blog posts on these we've watched since my last update on our ongoing marathon:

King Kong (1933)
The Mummy (1932)

Thursday, October 11, 2018

The Ritual


The Ritual is a 2011 award-winning horror novel by Adam Nevill. When I finished it, which didn't take long because I couldn't put it down, my first thought was that it should be adapted for film, and here it is. This is a good, solid horror story, with those ill-equipped young men lost in the primeval Scandinavian forest.

from the back of the book:
When four old university friends set off into the Scandinavian wilderness of the Arctic circle, they aim to briefly escape the problems of their lives and reconnect with one another. But when Luke, the only man still single and living a precarious existence, finds he has little left in common with his well-heeled friends, tensions rise. With limited experience between them, a shortcut meant to ease their hike turns into a nightmare scenario that could cost them their lives.

Lost, hungry, and surrounded by forest untouched for millennia, Luke figures things couldn't possibly get any worse. But then they stumble across a derelict building. Ancient artifacts decorate the walls and there are bones scattered upon the dry floors. The residue of old rites and pagan sacrifice for something that still exists in the forest. Something responsible for the bestial presence that follows their every step. As the four friends stagger in the direction of salvation, they learn that death doesn't come easy among these ancient trees....
quotes that struck me:
Maybe for short periods of time it seemed to him, inside that stinking bed, that some people were exempt from tragedy and pain, but these respites were short; in the scheme of things and in the length of eternity, respites were nothing but anomalies in a relentless flow of despair and pain and sadness and horror that surely would eventually sweep everyone away.
*******
And so it all continued; it was dull in its predictability. Evil was, he decided, inevitable, relentless, and predictable. Imaginative,
he'd give it that much, but soulless.
*******

The Guardian opens a positive review by saying, "This novel grabs from the very first page, refuses to be laid aside, and carries the hapless reader, exhausted and wrung out, to the very last sentence."

If you're interested in other horror stories and weird tales I've read, please check out those posts here.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

We Are What We Are (2013)

We Are What We Are is a 2013 remake of a 2010 Mexican film I haven't seen. It's a horrifying look at what insistence on religious observance past the proper time can bring us to. The music is gorgeous.

trailer:


Slant Magazine gives it 1.5 out of 4 stars and compares it to the original, saying the remake "tailors the story’s basic components to concern the eroding income of a deliriously religious lower-rural American class." The Guardian gives it 2 out of 5 stars and compares it unfavorably with the original.

Roger Ebert gives it 3.5 out of 4 and says, "the serious and respectful tone helps to make for a genuinely creepy moviegoing experience that will attract both serious fans of the genre and those viewers simply looking for a well-told story" and "in terms of smart and serious filmmaking, I would put this film up against any "serious" movie that has come out so far this year and I implore you to give it a chance." Rotten Tomatoes has an 86% critics score.

I watched this one alone.

*******

The Husband is on vacation this week, but the weather has been so hot he hasn't much wanted to do the outdoor activities we had planned. We have instead been watching some of the old monster movies, and he's been choosing to work his way through the old Frankenstein franchise from the beginning. That includes these, for which I have old posts:

The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942)
House of Frankenstein (1944)
House of Dracula (1945)
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)

We also re-watched this:

Dracula (1931)

Also, we enjoy, and so re-watch, some of the shows traditionally thought of as being for children, and we watched these while The Husband was on vacation:

The Halloween Tree (1993)
It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)

More recent films we've enjoyed re-watching during this October movie marathon week:

Kong: Skull Island (2017)

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

The Making of a Teapot


This video shows the making of a Japanese teapot by a master craftsman with many lessons for us. Those lessons don't come in words, as the limited spoken elements are in Japanese, but the lessons are crystal clear nevertheless.

I'm offering this for the weekly T Stand for Tuesday blogger gathering (share a drink in your post and join us), but most of my posts during October are stories and movies suitable for the Halloween season. Ghost stories, horror films, weird tales... if you like that kind of thing I hope you'll check out some of my other posts this month.

(I found the teapot video via Open Culture.)

Monday, October 08, 2018

The Old Nurse's Story


The Old Nurse's Story is an 1852 Gothic story by Elizabeth Gaskell. It begins,
You know, my dears, that your mother was an orphan, and an only child; and I dare say you have heard that your grand-father was a clergyman up in Westmoreland, where I come from. I was just a girl in the village school, when, one day, your grandmother came in to ask the mistress if there was any scholar there who would do for a nurse-maid; and mighty proud I was, I can tell ye, when the mistress called me up, and spoke to my being a good girl at my needle, and a steady, honest girl, and one whose parents were very respectable, though they might be poor I thought I should like nothing better than to serve the pretty, young lady, who was blushing as deep as I was, as she spoke of the coming baby, and what I should have to do with it. However, I see you don't care so much for this part of my story, as for what you think is to come, so I'll tell you at once. I was engaged and settled at the parsonage before Miss Rosamond (that was the baby, who is now your mother) was born. To be sure, I had little enough to do with her when she came, for she was never out of her mother's arms, and slept by her all night long; and proud enough was I sometimes when missis trusted her to me. There never was such a baby before or since, though you've all of you been fine enough in your turns; but for sweet, winning ways, you've none of you come up to your mother. She took after her mother, who was a teal lady born; a Miss Furnivall, a granddaughter of Lord Furnivall's, in Northumberland. I believe she had neither brother nor Sister, and had been brought up in my lord's family till she had married your grandfather, who was just a curate, son to a shopkeeper in Carlisle - but a clever, fine gentleman as ever was - and one who was a right-down hard worker in his parish, which was very wide, and scattered all abroad over the Westmoreland Fells. When your mother, little Miss Rosamond, was about four or five years old, both her parents died in a fortnight - one after the other. Ah! that was a sad time. My pretty young mistress and me was looking for another baby, when my master came home from one of his long rides, wet, and tired, and took the fever he died of; and then she never held up her head again, but lived just to see her dead baby, and have it laid on her breast before she sighed away her life. My mistress had asked me, on her death-bed, never to leave Miss Rosamond; but if she had never spoken a word, I would have gone with the little child to the end of the world.

The next thing, and before we had well stilled our sobs, the executors and guardians came to settle the affairs. They were my poor young mistress's own cousin, Lord Furnivall, and Mr Esthwaite, my master's brother, a shopkeeper in Manchester; not so well to do then, as he was afterwards, and with a large family rising about him. Well! I don't know if it were their settling, or because of a letter my mistress wrote on her death-bed to her cousin, my lord; but somehow it was settled that Miss Rosamond and me were to go to Furnivall Manor House, in Northumberland, and my lord spoke as if it had been her mother's wish that she should live with his family, and as if he had no objectioins, for that one or two more or less could make no difference in so grand a household. So, though that was not the way in which I should have wished the coming of my bright and pretty pet to have been looked at - who was like a sunbeam in any family, be it never so grand - I was well pleased that all the folks in the Dale should stare and admire, when they heard I was going to be young lady's maid at my Lord Furnivall's at Furnivall Manor.
You can read it online here and listen to it here:



There's a video tour of the author's home here:


Sunday, October 07, 2018

Roxanna Slade


Roxanna Slade is a 1998 novel by Southern writer Reynolds Price. I continue to read his books as I come across them, because I was deeply impressed with Kate Vaiden. This doesn't measure up for me, although reviewers liked it. I think reading Kate Vaiden first spoiled me. I never could bring myself to care about Roxanna. I'll keep reading this author, though. He is well-respected and honored in literary circles, and he does have a way with words. There's a Reading Group Guide here.

The book begins on October 7, 1920, on Roxanna's birthday.

from the book jacket:
Roxanna begins her story on her twentieth birthday -a day that introduces her to the harsh realities of adulthood and changes the course of her life forever. From this day on, Roxanna is quick to share with the reader the intimate details of ninety years of life in North Carolina. While she rarely leaves the small town of her youth, Roxanna's vision of the world is shaped by intense passions and loyalties and the certain tragedies of a life long lived.

Roxanna Slade is a sweet-and-keen-tongued tale-teller. And her beguiling tale is one that boldly reflects the high and low moments in the development of the modern South and the nation as well as the inner strength of a woman possessed of a piercingly clear vision, forthright hungers and immense vitality.
quotes:
*******
Whatever foolishness any politician or TV preacher tries to peddle today about human families as the peak of all striving, the highest of every human achievement, let me tell you plainly that in my youth and young womanhood, the families of many people thought to be decent as bands of angls were nothing but factories for driving souls crazy or still more evil than their hateful mothers or fathers.

And that big claim -but dead earnest- doesn't even mention the brothers or uncles who could use their younger kin like side meat. And even if all your people were saints, the lack of anything solid for young white respectable women to do would leave a girl so bone-shattering bored
that she might easily turn out a demon of world-sized meanness, just for something to do with the endless silent hours of frost or broiling swelter.
*******
Sometimes it's fairly slim consolation to notice how few human beings of any sex or background are called to anything grander than dinner.
*******

The New York Times has a positive review and closes with this:
In one way this tale represents a novelist's version of millennial fever. We will see many characters taken through the 20th century as it draws to a close. Since this century has been in many ways a more interesting one for women than for men, many of these books will be about women. ''Roxanna Slade'' is not only an example but exemplary.
Kirkus Reviews describes it as
A lovingly detailed record of a long and seemingly modest life, given resonance by the prolific Price’s extraordinary language and his sharp eye for the subtle complexities of character" and closes by calling the protagonist "a memorable figure, and further indication of Price’s quiet, precise power as a novelist.
Publishers Weekly has a positive review.

Other books I've read by this author:

A Long and Happy Life (1962)
Kate Vaiden (1986)
Blue Calhoun (1992)
Good Hearts (1998)

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Crowhaven Farm

Crowhaven Farm is a 1970 made-for-tv horror film starring Hope Lange and John Carradine. Lange inherits a farm but feels a haunting presence there. I found it tedious and dated.

via Youtube:


Moria gives it 2 out of 5 stars and says it "does not hold up that well today" and that "not a lot seems to make sense in terms of what is happening". Horrorpedia calls it "needlessly overwrought" and closes with this: "If you have a morbid fear of being slowly squashed by some costumed-loons, there could be food for thought here yet".

I watch horror movies all year but don't post them as I watch them. I schedule them so they'll be scattered through the year except for October when I post more of them. But still, the fact is I didn't watch Crowhaven Farm yesterday. What we did watch yesterday was The Wolf Man and Creature from the Black Lagoon. These are movies I've seen before many times, and I don't tend to write new posts about films like that. Here are the posts on them:

The Wolf Man (1941)
Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)

The Husband is on vacation this coming week, and a trip -even a little trip- is financially unwise right now. We had plans for seasonal outdoor activities only to be hit with heat in the 90s F. We decided to plunge ourselves into reliving fun monster/horror movies of the past instead. 'Tis the season and all that. I'm letting him select what we watch. He does not like jump scenes, blood, intense suspense, subtitles... As I write this on Friday night he's cooking waffles:


After supper, we watched this:

Frankenstein (1931)


Friday, October 05, 2018

The Fisherman


The Fisherman is a 2016 horror novel by John Langan. This turns fishing into an entirely different enterprise -a dangerous activity that must be undertaken with care, or at least in places known to be safe. It's a story of loss and coping and obsession and how wanting a thing can lead to tragedy. Women are motivating characters here but not real people for plot purposes. This is a man's tale, and everything is centered on how a man sees things and reacts. I found it engrossing.

from the back of the book:
In upstate New York, in the woods around Woodstock, Dutchman's Creek flows out of the Ashokan Reservoir. Steep-banked, fast moving, it offers the promise of fine fishing, and of something more, a possibility too fantastic to be true. When Abe and Dan, two widowers who have found solace in each other's company and a shared passion for fishing, hear rumors of the Creek, and what might be found there, the remedy to both their losses, they dismiss it as just another fish story. Soon, though, the men find themselves drawn into a tale as deep and old as the Reservoir. It's a tale of dark pacts, of long-buried secrets, and of a mysterious figure known as Der Fisher: the Fisherman. It will bring Abe and Dan face to face with all that they have lost, and with the price they must pay to regain it.
The New York Journal of Books calls it "profound" and says,
At times, the novel calls upon the spookier elements of classic horror authors such as M. R. James, Ambrose Bierce, and H. P. Lovecraft. There are Moby-Dick like instances of seafaring tension and wonder. And the novel’s Russian nesting doll-like narrative structure is reminiscent at times of Frankenstein, layering tales within tales.

There are so many rich descriptions in everything from the novel’s various Catskill settings to many a character’s physique. The reader can practically smell the humid air, can hear the gurgle of running water ... and feel cold, wet flesh beneath their fingertips.
The New York Times calls it "superb" and says, "Langan writes elegant prose, and the novel’s rolling, unpredictable flow has a distinctive rhythm, the rise and fall of its characters’ real grief. These fishermen are restless men, immobilized but never truly at peace." Publishers Weekly has a less positive review.

Thursday, October 04, 2018

When a Stranger Calls (1979)

When a Stranger Calls is a 1979 horror film starring Charles Durning, Carol Kane, Colleen Dewhurst, and Tony Beckley. Watching this is a tense experience. Kane is a babysitter who can't reach the parents of the children she's babysitting and who keeps getting anonymous calls asking her, "Have you checked the children?" Durning is the police officer she appeals to for help. The first 20 minutes are "now consistently regarded as one of the scariest openings in horror movie history" according to Wikipedia's sources.

via Youtube:


The New York Times says, "The movie is full of fine actors, but they all seem to have been wedged into the wrong roles" but calls it "an energetic first film". Moria gives it 2.5 out of 5 stars and says, "While it is occasionally effective, When a Stranger Calls is also a somewhat listless film."

Rotten Tomatoes has a critics rating of 33%.

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

A Head Full of Ghosts


A Head Full of Ghosts is a 2015 award-winning horror novel by Paul Tremblay. I enjoyed this, but there's not really anything new here. It's basically a is-it-possession-or-mental-illness exploration told by the younger sister. I had expected this to be scary, but I didn't find it so. I say if you want a scary book read the Bram Stoker Dracula.

from the back of the book:
The lives of the Barretts, a normal suburban New England family, are torn apart when fourteen-year-old Marjorie begins to display signs of acute schizophrenia.

To her parents' despair, the doctors are unable to stop Marjorie's descent into madness. As their stable home devolves into a house of horrors, they reluctantly turn to a local Catholic priest for help. Father Wanderly suggests an exorcism; he believes the vulnerable teenager is the victim of demonic possession. He also contacts a production company that is eager to document the Barretts' plight for a reality television show. With John, Marjorie's father, out of work for more than a year and the medical bills looming, the family reluctantly agrees to be filmed -never imagining that The Possession would become an instant hit. When events in the Barrett household explode in tragedy, the show and the shocking incidents it captures become the stuff of urban legend.

Fifteen years later, a bestselling writer interviews Marjorie's younger sister, Merry. As she recalls those long-ago events from her childhood -she was just eight years old- painful memories and long-buried secrets that clash with the television broadcast and the Internet blogs begin to surface.
There are several references to the yellow wallpaper in the house that put me in mind of Gilman's book, which can be read online here. There are also references to Gloomy Sunday:



Sunday is gloomy,
My hours are slumberless.
Dearest, the shadows
I live with are numberless.

Little white flowers
Will never awaken you.
Not where the black coach
Of sorrow has taken you.

The Guardian says the book "scares in layers" and that "wherever it comes from, there’s real evil at the heart of this book – and just in time for Halloween." io9 says it "will scare the shit out of you". NPR calls it an "eerie, edgy tale of perception and possession". The New York Times calls it "terrific".

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Still Life with Fruit

Still Life with Fruit (1960):


by Jerzy Srzednicki, a Polish artist and poet, who died October 1, 2007, at the age of 77.

I do eat a lot of fruit and was arranging a bowl yesterday to photograph and share here when it came to my attention that yesterday was National Homemade Cookie Day. So I did this instead:


I ate some while being serenaded by one of the members of our resident Chipmunk Horde:



I've been sitting on the patio lately wondering why it's still so hot.


It's never cold here in September and early October, but we're still getting highs in the upper 80s.

Please join the weekly T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering. Share a drink and a visit and get to know some people.

Monday, October 01, 2018

Lake Mungo

Lake Mungo is a 2008 Australian horror film. It's presented as a documentary-style look at a family grieving over the drowning death of their daughter. This is a sad movie, not scary at all.



Variety calls it "ambitious, restrained and well-mounted". Moria has a mixed review. HorrorNews.net says it's "quite a interesting and intelligent movie that knows how to keep its audience glued to the activities and facts presented."

DVD Talk says, "in its own way it's much more frightening than most of the schlock fests regularly served up in that genre" and concludes
Lake Mungo is a different kind of horror film. It doesn't follow a traditional narrative, and lacks gore and cheap scares. What it does have is a powerful story, believable and familiar characters, and a subtle, creeping atmosphere of dread that pervades the film. This is a superior effort, one that will keep you up at night.
Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 93%.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Thurnley Abbey


Thurnley Abbey is a well-regarded 1908 ghost story by Perceval Landon. It begins,
Three years ago I was on my way out to the East, and as an extra day in London was of some importance, I took the Friday evening mail-train to Brindisi instead of the usual Thursday morning Marseilles express. Many people shrink from the long forty-eight-hour train journey through Europe, and the subsequent rush across the Mediterranean on the nineteen-knot Isis or Osiris; but there is really very little discomfort on either the train or the mail-boat, and unless there is actually nothing for me to do, I always like to save the extra day and a half in London before I say goodbye to her for one of my longer tramps. This time -it was early, I remember, in the shipping season, probably about the beginning of September- there were few passengers, and I had a compartment in the P. & O. Indian express to myself all the way from Calais. All Sunday I watched the blue waves dimpling the Adriatic, and the pale rosemary along the cuttings; the plain white towns, with their flat roofs and their bold "duomos," and the grey-green gnarled olive orchards of Apulia. The journey was just like any other. We ate in the dining-car as often and as long as we decently could. We slept after luncheon; we dawdled the afternoon away with yellow-backed novels; sometimes we exchanged platitudes in the smoking-room, and it was there that I met Alastair Colvin.

Colvin was a man of middle height, with a resolute, well-cut jaw; his hair was turning grey; his moustache was sun-whitened, otherwise he was clean-shaven -obviously a gentleman, and obviously also a pre-occupied man. He had no great wit. When spoken to, he made the usual remarks in the right way, and I dare say he refrained from banalities only because he spoke less than the rest of us; most of the time he buried himself in the Wagon-lit Company's time-table, but seemed unable to concentrate his attention on any one page of it. He found that I had been over the Siberian railway, and for a quarter of an hour he discussed it with me. Then he lost interest in it, and rose to go to his compartment. But he came back again very soon, and seemed glad to pick up the conversation again.


Of course this did not seem to me to be of any importance. Most travellers by train become a trifle infirm of purpose after thirty-six hours' rattling. But Colvin's restless way I noticed in somewhat marked contrast with the man's personal importance and dignity; especially ill suited was it to his finely made large hand with strong, broad, regular nails and its few lines. As I looked at his hand I noticed a long, deep, and recent scar of ragged shape. However, it is absurd to pretend that I thought anything was unusual. I went off at five o'clock on Sunday afternoon to sleep away the hour or two that had still to be got through before we arrived at Brindisi.

Once there, we few passengers transhipped our hand baggage, verified our berths--there were only a score of us in all--and then, after an aimless ramble of half an hour in Brindisi, we returned to dinner at the Httel International, not wholly surprised that the town had been the death of Virgil. If I remember rightly, there is a gaily painted hall at the International--I do not wish to advertise anything, but there is no other place in Brindisi at which to await the coming of the mails--and after dinner I was looking with awe at a trellis overgrown with blue vines, when Colvin moved across the room to my table. He picked up Il Secolo, but almost immediately gave up the pretence of reading it. He turned squarely to me and said:

"Would you do me a favour?"

One doesn't do favours to stray acquaintances on Continental expresses without knowing something more of them than I knew of Colvin. But I smiled in a noncommittal way, and asked him what he wanted. I wasn't wrong in part of my estimate of him; he said bluntly:

"Will you let me sleep in your cabin on the Osiris?" And he coloured a little as he said it.

Now, there is nothing more tiresome than having to put up with a stable-companion at sea, and I asked him rather pointedly:

"Surely there is room for all of us?" I thought that perhaps he had been partnered off with some mangy Levantine, and wanted to escape from him at all hazards.

Colvin, still somewhat confused, said: "Yes; I am in a cabin by myself. But you would do me the greatest favour if you would allow me to share yours."

This was all very well, but, besides the fact that I always sleep better when alone, there had been some recent thefts on board English liners, and I hesitated, frank and honest and self-conscious as Colvin was. Just then the mail-train came in with a clatter and a rush of escaping steam, and I asked him to see me again about it on the boat when we started. He answered me curtly -I suppose he saw the mistrust in my manner- "I am a member of White's. I smiled to myself as he said it, but I remembered in a moment that the man -if he were really what he claimed to be, and I make no doubt that he was- must have been sorely put to it before he urged the fact as a guarantee of his respectability to a total stranger at a Brindisi hotel.

That evening, as we cleared the red and green harbour-lights of Brindisi, Colvin explained. This is his story in his own words.
You can read it online here, and listen to it here:

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Jiraiya the Hero

Jiraiya the Hero is a 1921 Japanese silent short (20 minutes) film directed by Shōzō Makino.


There are interesting special effects.


Friday, September 28, 2018

The Golden Egg


The Golden Egg, which takes place in Autumn, is the 22nd book in the Donna Leon mystery series featuring Commissario Guido Brunetti. I can't recommend this series highly enough. There's the perfect balance of engaging characters, fascinating plots, and Venetian atmosphere. You can't lose with these. This one is sadder than most of them and probably wouldn't be the one I'd suggest stating with. A tragic story.

from the book jacket:
Over the years, the best-selling Commissario Guido Brunetti series has conquered the hearts of mystery lovers all over the world. Brunetti is both a perceptive investigator and a principled family man, and through him, Leon has explored Venice in all its aspects: its history, beauty, food, and social life, but also the crime and corruption that lurks behind the beautiful surface.

In The Golden Egg, as the first leaves of autumn begin to fall, Vice Questore Patta asks Brunetti to look into a minor shop-keeping violation committed by the mayor's future daughter-in-law. Brunetti has no interest in helping his boss amass political favors, but he has little choice but to comply. Then Brunetti's wife, Paola, comes to him with a request of her own. The mentally handicapped man who worked at their dry cleaner has just died of a sleeping pill overdose, and Paola loathes the idea that he lived and died without anyone noticing him, or helping him.

To please his passionate wife, Brunetti begins to investigate the death. He is surprised when he finds nothing on the man: no birth certificate, no passport, no driver's license, no credit cards. As far as the Italian government is concerned, he never existed. And yet, there is the body, and Brunetti knows both the place and cause of death. Stranger still, the dead man's mother refuses to speak to the police, and assures Brunetti that her son's identification papers were stolen in a burglary. As secrets unravel, Brunetti suspects that the Lembos, an aristocratic family, might somehow be connected to the death. But why would anyone want this sweet, simple-minded man dead?
The New York Times calls it an "unusually reflective detective story" with a "melancholy mood". Kirkus Reviews has a positive review. Publishers Weekly concludes, "Brunetti amply displays the keen intelligence and wry humor that has endeared this series to so many."

I've read the following from this series:
#1 Death at La Fenice (1992)
#2 Death in a Strange Country (1993)
#3 Dressed for Death (1994)
#4 Death and Judgment (1995)
#13 Doctored Evidence (2004)
#18 About Face (2009)
#19 A Question of Belief
#20
Drawing Conclusions

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Marty

Marty is a 1955 award-winning film starring Ernest Borgnine as a good-natured man (he says, "I'm a fat, ugly man.") who has given up finding a wife. Tastes differ so widely that I always hesitate to call any film a must-see, but I highly recommend this one. You can rent it for about $3 here at Youtube. We bought a DVD and will be keeping it for re-watching. Ernest Borgnine is a treasure.

trailer:



Film Site describes it as "the poignant, simple character study of a lonely, unmarried, lovelorn middle-aged, 34 year old son who works as a Bronx butcher and still lives with his love-smothering mother." Variety has a glowing review. Empire Online says, "Released in an era of widescreen epics and extravagant musicals, Delbert Mann's ode to working-class life found much favour... becoming the first film to bag both the Best Picture Oscar and Cannes' Palme D'Or."

AV/Film Club says,
That this perennial bachelor earns the audience’s empathy, not its pity, is thanks largely to the man playing him: Ernest Borgnine, the late character actor and unlikely romantic lead, who cut his teeth portraying villains and scoundrels. ... it’s hard to imagine anyone besting the delicate balance of weariness and optimism Borgnine achieves here. He too won an Oscar, overcoming stiff competition from Spencer Tracy, James Cagney, Frank Sinatra, and James Dean...

Rotten Tomatoes has a critics rating of 100%.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Downhearted Blues

Downhearted Blues (1923):



sung by Tennessee-born Bessie Smith, who died on this date in 1937 at 43 years of age. She was injured in a car crash on U.S. Route 61 between Memphis, Tennessee, and Clarksdale, Mississippi. The description at Wikipedia of the chain of events leading to Smith's death is horrifying. Her grave was unmarked until 1970.

Here's Empty Bed Blues from 1928:

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Turkish Cafe

Turkish Cafe (1914):

Turkish Cafe 2:


by August Macke, who died on September 26, 1914, at the age of 27 at the front during World War 1. You can see more of his work here, here, and here.

Looking at these paintings I find myself wanting to pull that chair up and sit with her. Or maybe I could invite her to join me instead. Here was my view yesterday morning as I was getting this post ready to schedule:


Please join me in visiting with the bloggers who participate in Bleubeard and Elizabeth's weekly T Stands for Tuesday gathering.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Nagin

Nagin is a 1954 Hindu film about lovers from enemy tribes who seek a way to be together despite the sworn enmity between their peoples. Award-winner Hemant Kumar's musical score is much praised and reason enough to watch the film.


The Hindu says, "There are only a few movies that can be counted for their musical score, and “Nagin” remains one of them."

Sunday, September 23, 2018

On the Patio

Yesterday was the Autumnal Equinox, so it seemed a good time to highlight some of the seasonal changes on the patio. We got another rain earlier in the month, perhaps a sign that Autumn is coming:


We haven't seen as many butterflies this year as we usually do, but there've been some swallowtails and some pretty yellow ones, a number of little white butterflies, and I got this picture of an orange butterly (a Gulf Fritillary?):


and some photos of an entirely different kind of orange butterfly, (perhaps a Monarch?):


The swallowtails still come to the flowers, but are looking quite ragged this late in the year.


We've had a hard time attracting cardinals, but we finally found a feeder that does the trick:


The problem is that the feeder the cardinals like is readily accessible to the squirrels and chipmunks *sigh* They should just call them chipmunk feeders and be done with it:



This female cardinal ventured down for water:



The hummingbirds pulled a stunt I'd never seen, with one hanging upside down from a Dracena leaf while the other poked and prodded until they both flew away.


I find hummingbirds hard to photograph, but I got a couple of videos. In this one you can see and hear the hummingbird up in the dogwood tree:



and in the one below you see the hummingbird at the feeder:




We still have some coneflowers blooming:


and some caterpillars on the rue:



The opossum has been a new visitor we get a kick out of watching. She (he?) has only come twice, several days apart around 11:00 PM, and hunts bugs with enthusiasm:


She patrols the perimeter, looks in the door at us, and gets a drink. We're in favor of anything that keeps bugs at bay and doesn't want to come inside.

Yesterday was a gray, drizzly day with a high in the low 70s -perfect weather for the equinox observance!

Saturday, September 22, 2018

An Aimless Bullet

An Aimless Bullet is a 1960 South Korean tragedy about life in South Korea after the end of the Korean War. Originally banned by that government, it was eventually released to praise.


Reviews online are scarce.

Friday, September 21, 2018

The Langoliers

Today is the birthday of Stephen King, a day I've never paid any attention at all to in the past, but the host at the Incipient Wings blog is having a party -I'll put a link here to that post when it goes live. In that birthday party spirit I thought I'd watch something by King that was new to me, and The Younger Son suggested The Langoliers. It's a 2-part mini-series based on a 1990 novella. This tv adaptation stars Patricia Wettig, Dean Stockwell, and David Morse. People yell and scream a lot. It's slow, but the journey makes for an interesting ride. Wikipedia begins its plot description with this:
During a red eye flight of a Lockheed L-1011 from Los Angeles International Airport to Boston Logan International Airport, the plane flies through a strange light, and most of the passengers and flight crew disappear, leaving behind only personal artifacts. Only those passengers who were asleep remain, and discover the predicament when they wake. Pilot Brian Engle, deadheading on the flight, takes the controls; unable to contact any other airport, he decides to land the plane at Bangor International Airport because of its long runway.
I'm not a fan of movies or books or TV episodes about time travel, time wars, time streams, time distortions, time whatever, but at least this concept is different.

trailer:



Empire Online gives it 3 out of 5 stars and calls it "Honourable, but longwinded." Entertainment Weekly says it's "slow going in spots, but it’s also a lot more fun than most TV movies." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics rating of 50%, so it looks like half like it and half don't. Take a chance.

Other works by King I've seen or read and blogged are below.

Books:

The Shining (1977)
The Gunslinger (1982)
Pet Sematary (1983)
The Drawing of the Three (1987)
The Waste Lands (1991)
The Stand (1994)
Wizard and Glass (1997)
Bag of Bones (1998)
Wolves of Calla (2003)
Susannah (2004)
Duma Key (2008)
Just After Sunset (2008)

Movies:

The Dead Zone (1983)
Children of the Corn (1984)
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
The Green Mile (1999)

Thursday, September 20, 2018

The Hobbit


The Hobbit is a 1937 fantasy novel by J.R.R. Tolkien. It has never been out of print, and there have been many adaptations. I've read it to myself and to my children numerous times and recently re-read it. It never gets old. If you haven't read it you will improve your life by remedying that lack. It's a delightful story.

from the book jacket:
When The Hobbit was first published in this country, the American Library Association's reviewer said in the ALA Bulletin:
"At this time of writing, still under the spell of the story, I cannot bend my mind to ask myself whether our American children will like it. My impulse is to say if they don't, so much the worse for them..."
By now, The Hobbit has become a classic, and the Horn Book's prophetic review gives some hints as to why: "The background of the story is full of authentic bits of mythology and magic and the book has the rare quality of style. It is written with a quiet humor and the logical detail in which children take delight ... this is a book with no age limits. All those, young or old, who love a finely imagined story, beautifully told, will take The Hobbit to their hearts."
This book seems universally beloved, so quotes from reviews seem unnecessary.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The Lady Eve

The Lady Eve is a 1941 Preston Sturges screwball comedy starring Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda. Priceless!

You can watch it online here:



The Telegraph calls it Sturges' best film. Filmsite calls it "a sophisticated romantic/sex comedy (with light romance and mock seduction scenes) -a classic screwball film, a quintessential Preston Sturges work of art and the director's first real commercial hit." It's on Roger Ebert's list of Great Movies. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 100%.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Still Life With Casserole

Still Life With Casserole (1955):


by Fairfield Porter, an American painter who died on September 18, 1975 at age 68. You can read more about him here and see more of his art here and here.

I don't have a casserole dish like that and always used those clear 9x13 or 8x8 Pyrex dishes. My easiest casserole recipes from 40+ years ago when I was first learning to cook:

Tuna Casserole:

Chunk Light Tuna, packed in water -2 cans
Condensed Cream of Mushroom soup -1 can
Egg Noodles -2 cups
Bread crumbs -to taste for topping

Preheat oven to 400 F.
Cook noodles.
Place cooked noodles in the bottom of greased baking dish.
Spread tuna over noodles.
Spread soup over tuna.
Bake for 20 minutes.
Top with bread crumbs.
Cook 10 more minutes.

Green Bean Casserole:
French-style Green Beans -2 cans (16 oz each)
Sliced Water Chestnuts -1 can
Condensed Cream of Mushroom soup -1 can
French Fried Onions -to taste
Shredded Cheddar Cheese -as desired for topping

Layer in greased baking dish.
Bake in pre-heated oven at 350 F 20 minutes.
Top with cheese and bake another 10 minutes.

And Chicken Casserole:

Long-grain White Rice -1 cup, uncooked
Chicken Breasts -4-6, depending on size
Seasoning to taste -for chicken
Condensed Cream of Celery soup -1 can
Condensed Cream of Mushroom soup -1 can
Water -2 cups

Preheat oven to 350 F.
Place rice in bottom of baking dish.
Arrange seasoned chicken on rice.
Mix other ingredients and pour over chicken.
Cook 1 1/2 hours.
I don't generally cook casseroles at all any more, and these recipes don't look like they've aged well.

There's nothing in the carafe or the pitcher in this painting, but I have faith that water and wine will be on offer any minute now. Please join me at the table, and we'll enjoy those lovely flowers and visit with one another in the meantime. Please join me at the weekly T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering.

Monday, September 17, 2018

The Diary of a Madman


The Diary of a Madman is an 1886 short story by Guy de Maupassant. Wikipedia says this:
In his later years he developed a constant desire for solitude, an obsession for self-preservation, and a fear of death and paranoia of persecution caused by the syphilis he had contracted in his youth. It has been suggested that his brother, Hervé, also suffered from syphilis and the disease may have been congenital. On 2 January 1892, Maupassant tried to commit suicide by cutting his throat, and was committed to the private asylum of Esprit Blanche at Passy, in Paris, where he died 6 July 1893.

Guy De Maupassant penned his own epitaph: "I have coveted everything and taken pleasure in nothing." He is buried in Section 26 of the Montparnasse Cemetery, Paris.
He was 42 years old at the time of his death.

This story begins,
He was dead -the head of a high tribunal, the upright magistrate whose irreproachable life was a proverb in all the courts of France. Advocates, young counsellors, judges had greeted him at sight of his large, thin, pale face lighted up by two sparkling deep-set eyes, bowing low in token of respect.

He had passed his life in pursuing crime and in protecting the weak. Swindlers and murderers had no more redoubtable enemy, for he seemed to read the most secret thoughts of their minds.

He was dead, now, at the age of eighty-two, honored by the homage and followed by the regrets of a whole people. Soldiers in red trousers had escorted him to the tomb and men in white cravats had spoken words and shed tears that seemed to be sincere beside his grave.

But here is the strange paper found by the dismayed notary in the desk where he had kept the records of great criminals! It was entitled:

WHY?
You can read it online here.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Dance, Girl, Dance

Dance, Girl, Dance is a 1940 musical film starring Maureen O'Hara, Lucille Ball, Ralph Bellamy, and Maria Ouspenskaya. Ouspenskaya is a treasure, and any movie she's in is worth watching. You can watch it online via this link.

I can't find a trailer, but here's Lucille Ball doing her version of a hula dance:




Senses of Cinema says, "Dance, Girl, Dance is a milestone in the dance film and musical" and says it "could be classed as high camp, but it has much more to offer than this implies".

The New Yorker says,
The movie lives up to its title—its subject really is dancing. Arzner films it with fascination and enthusiasm, and the choreography is marked by the point of view of the spectators and the dancers’ awareness that they’re being watched.
This film is included in the book 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 80%. FilmReference.com has an article.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Morning 42


A little something just to see if the walkers are paying attention?

Friday, September 14, 2018

It's a Gift

It's a Gift is a 1934 W.C. Fields comedy. It's a funny movie, and short and easy to watch if you'd just like a taste of this kind of film. Wikipedia says,
the film is perhaps the best example of the recurring theme of the Everyman battling against his domestic entrapment. Historians and critics have often cited its numerous memorable comic moments.


This film is included in the book 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die. Filmsite says it "is often cited as W. C. Fields' best and funniest picture - it is undoubtedly one of the greatest, classic comedies ever made". Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 100%.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Makers

Image from BoingBoing

Makers is a 2009 science fiction novel by Cory Doctorow. There's a strong Disney connection, and I found it interesting, even if I never connected with the characters. You can read it online here. It begins,
Suzanne Church almost never had to bother with the blue blazer these days. Back at the height of the dot-boom, she'd put on her business journalist drag -- blazer, blue sailcloth shirt, khaki trousers, loafers -- just about every day, putting in her obligatory appearances at splashy press-conferences for high-flying IPOs and mergers. These days, it was mostly work at home or one day a week at the San Jose Mercury News's office, in comfortable light sweaters with loose necks and loose cotton pants that she could wear straight to yoga after shutting her computer's lid.

Blue blazer today, and she wasn't the only one. There was Reedy from the NYT's Silicon Valley office, and Tribbey from the WSJ, and that despicable rat-toothed jumped-up gossip columnist from one of the UK tech-rags, and many others besides. Old home week, blue blazers fresh from the dry-cleaning bags that had guarded them since the last time the NASDAQ broke 5,000.

The man of the hour was Landon Kettlewell -- the kind of outlandish prep-school name that always seemed a little made up to her -- the new CEO and front for the majority owners of Kodak/Duracell. The despicable Brit had already started calling them Kodacell. Buying the company was pure Kettlewell: shrewd, weird, and ethical in a twisted way.

"Why the hell have you done this, Landon?" Kettlewell asked himself into his tie-mic. Ties and suits for the new Kodacell execs in the room, like surfers playing dress-up. "Why buy two dinosaurs and stick 'em together? Will they mate and give birth to a new generation of less-endangered dinosaurs?"

He shook his head and walked to a different part of the stage, thumbing a PowerPoint remote that advanced his slide on the jumbotron to a picture of a couple of unhappy cartoon brontos staring desolately at an empty nest. "Probably not. But there is a good case for what we've just done, and with your indulgence, I'm going to lay it out for you now."

"Let's hope he sticks to the cartoons," Rat-Toothed hissed beside her. His breath smelled like he'd been gargling turds. He had a not-so-secret crush on her and liked to demonstrate his alpha-maleness by making half-witticisms into her ear. "They're about his speed."

She twisted in her seat and pointedly hunched over her computer's screen, to which she'd taped a thin sheet of polarized plastic that made it opaque to anyone shoulder-surfing her. Being a halfway attractive woman in Silicon Valley was more of a pain in the ass than she'd expected, back when she'd been covering rustbelt shenanigans in Detroit, back when there was an auto industry in Detroit.

The worst part was that the Brit's reportage was just spleen-filled editorializing on the lack of ethics in the valley's board-rooms (a favorite subject of hers, which no doubt accounted for his fellow-feeling), and it was also the crux of Kettlewell's schtick. The spectacle of an exec who talked ethics enraged Rat-Toothed more than the vilest baby-killers. He was the kind of revolutionary who liked his firing squads arranged in a circle.
*******

SF Site concludes,
This is not, let me stress, a bad book. But it is not as good a book as it might have been, because neither the message nor the story are quite strong enough to make up for the other's weakness, and because all too often Doctorow seems to buy into the American myth he appears to be intending to subvert.
Strange Horizons says, "Makers is a novel. Which is a pity. It's the least interesting aspect of the book. What Doctorow has to say is important and interesting, but the fiction gets in the way." io9 says, "It's a dense, and always interesting reading experience". Kirkus Reviews was disappointed and calls it "strangely lifeless".