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".

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Shadow of Chikara

Shadow of Chikara is a 1977 horror western starring Joe Don Baker, Sondra Locke, Ted Neeley (better known as Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar), and Slim Pickens as Virgil Cane. A small group of men, left without anything after the end of the civil war, go in search of the diamonds left in Arkansas hidden by a dead comrade. The party is followed by the mountain's defender. The 1970s hairstyles and attitudes don't let you ever enter the time period supposedly shown, but many older westerns aren't exactly true to the period. The music is too schmaltzy for words. The plot itself is good and moves steadily forward. The characters and acting are fine. If you'd like to be able to see a horror movie but can't abide blood and gore, and if you'd like horror without "jump" scenes, try this one. There's a nice twist at the end.

via Youtube:



Moria gives it 3 out of 5 stars, praises Joe Don Baker, and calls it "an intriguing effort". The Encyclopedia of Arkansas has an article here.


Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Madame Aline Gibert

Madame Aline Gibert (1887):


by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, who died September 9, 1901, at the age of 36 from complications due to alcoholism and syphilis.

His was a sad life, and I'm in no mood to dwell on it. The woman in the painting, on the other hand, looks quite content in that comfortable chair with her paper and cup of coffee. There are instructions at this link to brew the perfect single cup pour-over, which I'm sure is what she's drinking. Here's mine:


On the other hand, if we choose to go out I'll take the fresh Colombian:



Definitely the fresh Colombian. I'm sharing this post at the T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering. Join us? All it takes is a post with a drink in it.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Joe's Restaurant


Joe's Restaurant was our choice for a place to eat out in September. We went there on Labor Day. The exterior is nothing special:


but the food is:


I had the catfish plate, as did The Daughter. The Husband had the country ham plate, and The Son-in-Law had the pork tenderloin. The Younger Son had a cheeseburger. The menu had options enough to suit everybody, including steaks, a couple of Italian dishes, salads, vegetables...

We were seated in a glassed-in room that was quite comfortable with plenty of light.


Service was great. I had enough fish left over for The Husband to save for supper that night. The Daughter brought donuts for dessert:


What a fun family holiday!

Sunday, September 09, 2018

City That Never Sleeps

City That Never Sleeps is a 1953 film noir directed by John H. Auer and starring Gig Young and Mala Powers. Chill Wills and Tom Poston are also in this movie.

via Youtube:



The New York Times has a review from the time of the film's release that says, "A half-hearted attempt to document nocturnal Chicago as the "City That Never Sleeps" rarely camouflages the routine crime melodrama". Slant Maggazine gives it 2.5 out of 5 stars and concludes by calling it "A hard-ass noir softened not so much by the sight of gams-centric cheesecake as its quasi-mystical poaching and repurposing on The Naked City’s turf".

Saturday, September 08, 2018

A Dark Brown Dog


A Dark Brown Dog is a 1901 Stephen Crane short story. Such a hard, sad tale! You can read it online here. It begins,
A Child was standing on a street-corner. He leaned with one shoulder against a high board-fence and swayed the other to and fro, the while kicking carelessly at the gravel.

Sunshine beat upon the cobbles, and a lazy summer wind raised yellow dust which trailed in clouds down the avenue. Clattering trucks moved with indistinctness through it. The child stood dreamily gazing.

After a time, a little dark-brown dog came trotting with an intent air down the sidewalk. A short rope was dragging from his neck. Occasionally he trod upon the end of it and stumbled.

He stopped opposite the child, and the two regarded each other. The dog hesitated for a moment, but presently he made some little advances with his tail. The child put out his hand and called him. In an apologetic manner the dog came close, and the two had an interchange of friendly pattings and waggles. The dog became more enthusiastic with each moment of the interview, until with his gleeful caperings he threatened to overturn the child. Whereupon the child lifted his hand and struck the dog a blow upon the head.

Friday, September 07, 2018

The Public Enemy

The Public Enemy is a 1931 pre-code gangster movie directed by William Wellman and starring James Cagney, Jean Harlow, Edward Woods, Joan Blondell. It is exactly what you might expect, but you already knew that by the cast list. This is one of those "best" films you see in lists.

part 1:



part 2:




It's listed in the book 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die. FilmSite calls it "one of the earliest and best of the gangster films from Warner Bros. in the thirties." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 100%.

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Dark Financial Clouds and Blue Skies

This was written about a week ago:


We're doing the best we can but are sadly failing so far to live within our current means. We do have a pad in the checking account, but that's been gradually shrinking as outgo surpasses income. That just won't do. Plus we've been notified that The Husband's long-term care insurance premium is going to increase by about $45 a month. The one thing I can think of to do -and I hate to do it- is decrease the amount that's deducted from the paycheck for retirement savings.

I realize it's early days yet and we're only a couple of months into these new constraints, but it's frustrating when we cut back so much and it's still not enough. I wish there was a magic way to make this same amount of money go further. I'm not seeing much else we can do to cut expenses.

The dark cloud photo at the top of the post illustrates my current mood. I'd love suggestions and recommendations if anybody has them.

*******

This was written a few days later:

The Husband and I went over the expenses since the income cut-back and think we'll postpone cutting back on pension contributions for now and just continue to watch things. I hadn't taken into consideration that city and county property taxes and an increase in HOA fees that we paid in a lump sum had taken a toll. Things aren't as bad as I feared, and I just need to allow more time for it all to shake down. Patience and persistence, that's what I need. I was fretting, which isn't helpful. So the photo below illustrates my new current, more hopeful mood.

I'd still appreciate any suggestions and recommendations.


The moral is, Don't Panic! Slow and Steady! Persistence is its own reward! And all those other encouraging lessons you've heard a million times but completely ignore when you need them most. If you think things are going bad, reconsider, ask someone what they think, get your mind off of it for a while, have a soothing hot beverage, and come back to the problem when you're refreshed. It's never as bad as you thought it was. Well, almost never.



Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Method Three For Murder


Method Three For Murder is a 1960 Nero Wolfe novella by Rex Stout first published as a serial in The Saturday Evening Post. Archie Goodwin quits, and as he's walking out gets hired by a woman who has found a body. Nero Wolfe insists on helping. This is part of the collection Three at Wolfe's Door and has not been adapted for TV or film that I can find. I'm reading these books as I come across them. The Younger Son has a stash, and right now I'm working through the ones he's loaned me. The are fun, if somewhat dated, light reading. I get a kick out of the characters.

This story takes place in September.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Three Men in a Boat

Photo from krish kedia at SlideShare

Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome is an 1889 comic account of a two-week boating holiday on the Thames. From what I've read the tour is reproducible today down to some of the pubs they went to. In observance of T Stands for Tuesday, I'd invite you to join me in a virtual ale at The Barley Mow:

photo by Ian Brackenridge from Wikipedia

from the book:
If you stay the night on land at Clifton, you cannot do better than put up at the "Barley Mow." It is, without exception, I should say, the quaintest, most old-world inn up the river. It stands on the right of the bridge, quite away from the village. Its low-pitched gables and thatched roof and latticed windows give it quite a story-book appearance, while inside it is even still more once-upon-a-timeyfied.
Here are a few more drink-related quotes I liked:
Harris always does know a place round the corner where you can get something brilliant in the drinking line. I believe that if you met Harris up in Paradise (supposing such a thing likely), he would immediately greet you with:

"So glad you've come, old fellow; I've found a nice place round the corner here, where you can get some really first-class nectar."
*******
She was nuts on public-houses, was England's Virgin Queen. There's scarcely a pub. of any attractions within ten miles of London that she does not seem to have looked in at, or stopped at, or slept at, some time or other. I wonder now, supposing Harris, say, turned over a new leaf, and became a great and good man, and got to be Prime Minister, and died, if they would put up signs over the public-houses that he had patronised: "Harris had a glass of bitter in this house;" "Harris had two of Scotch cold here in the summer of `88;" "Harris was chucked from here in December, 1886."

No, there would be too many of them! It would be the houses that he had never entered that would become famous. "Only house in South London that Harris never had a drink in!" The people would flock to it to see what could have been the matter with it.
*******
I reminded him that there was concentrated lemonade in the hamper, and a gallon-jar of water in the nose of the boat, and that the two only wanted mixing to make a cool and refreshing beverage.

Then he flew off about lemonade, and "such-like Sunday-school slops," as he termed them, ginger-beer, raspberry syrup, &c., &c. He said they all produced dyspepsia, and ruined body and soul alike, and were the cause of half the crime in England.

He said he must drink something, however, and climbed upon the seat, and leant over to get the bottle. It was right at the bottom of the hamper, and seemed difficult to find, and he had to lean over further and further, and, in trying to steer at the same time, from a topsy-turvy point of view, he pulled the wrong line, and sent the boat into the bank, and the shock upset him, and he dived down right into the hamper, and stood there on his head, holding on to the sides of the boat like grim death, his legs sticking up into the air. He dared not move for fear of going over, and had to stay there till I could get hold of his legs, and haul him back, and that made him madder than ever.
*******
It took us half an hour's hard labour, after that, before it was properly up, and then we cleared the decks, and got out supper. We put the kettle on to boil, up in the nose of the boat, and went down to the stern and pretended to take no notice of it, but set to work to get the other things out.

That is the only way to get a kettle to boil up the river. If it sees that you are waiting for it and are anxious, it will never even sing. You have to go away and begin your meal, as if you were not going to have any tea at all. You must not even look round at it. Then you will soon hear it sputtering away, mad to be made into tea.

It is a good plan, too, if you are in a great hurry, to talk very loudly to each other about how you don't need any tea, and are not going to have any. You get near the kettle, so that it can overhear you, and then you shout out, "I don't want any tea; do you, George?" to which George shouts back, "Oh, no, I don't like tea; we'll have lemonade instead - tea's so indigestible." Upon which the kettle boils over, and puts the stove out.

We adopted this harmless bit of trickery, and the result was that, by the time everything else was ready, the tea was waiting. Then we lit the lantern, and squatted down to supper.

We wanted that supper.
*******

There's a fun section here about the trials of opening a can of pineapple. I'd heartily recommend this book if you like humorous anecdotes well told.

You can read the entire book online here. The book begins with this:
There were four of us -George, and William Samuel Harris, and myself, and Montmorency. We were sitting in my room, smoking, and talking about how bad we were -bad from a medical point of view I mean, of course.

We were all feeling seedy, and we were getting quite nervous about it. Harris said he felt such extraordinary fits of giddiness come over him at times, that he hardly knew what he was doing; and then George said that HE had fits of giddiness too, and hardly knew what HE was doing. With me, it was my liver that was out of order. I knew it was my liver that was out of order, because I had just been reading a patent liver-pill circular, in which were detailed the various symptoms by which a man could tell when his liver was out of order. I had them all.

It is a most extraordinary thing, but I never read a patent medicine advertisement without being impelled to the conclusion that I am suffering from the particular disease therein dealt with in its most virulent form. The diagnosis seems in every case to correspond exactly with all the sensations that I have ever felt.

I remember going to the British Museum one day to read up the treatment for some slight ailment of which I had a touch - hay fever, I fancy it was. I got down the book, and read all I came to read; and then, in an unthinking moment, I idly turned the leaves, and began to indolently study diseases, generally. I forget which was the first distemper I plunged into - some fearful, devastating scourge, I know - and, before I had glanced half down the list of "premonitory symptoms," it was borne in upon me that I had fairly got it.

Monday, September 03, 2018

Death of an Expert Witness


Death of an Expert Witness is a mystery/detective novel by P. D. James, 6th in a series featuring Adam Dalgliesh. I read these in no particular order. I like the writing and enjoy Dalgliesh. This story takes place in the Autumn.

from the back of the book:
When a young girl is found murdered in a field, the scientific examination of the crime scene is just a routine job for the staff of Hoggart's Forensic Science Laboratory. But nothing could have prepared them for the brutal death of their senior biologist, found murdered in his own laboratory. On the surface, Dr. Lorrimer had been the picture of a bloodless, coldly efficient scientist. Well respected in the scientific community, he was also an authritative figure on the witness stand. Left with countless motives to investigate, Commander Adam Dalgliesh must exhume the secrets of Dr. Lorrimer's laboratory in order to lay bare the murderous motive hidden in one himan heart.
It was adapted for television as a miniseries in 1983 with Roy Marsden as Dalgliesh. This is part 1:



and the rest of the series is available here at Youtube. Once you've tried it, you'll want to have the DVDs. I know I did.

I have read these since I began blogging:

#2 A Mind to Murder
#3 Unnatural Causes
#4 Shroud for a Nightingale
#5 The Black Tower
#7 A Taste for Death
#8 Devices and Desires
#9 Original Sin
#12 The Murder Room
#13 The Lighthouse

and An Unsuitable Job for a Woman, which features an appearance by Dalgliesh.

Sunday, September 02, 2018

2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its release, and we watched it again to mark the occasion. Stanley Kubrik directed this film, which was inspired by the Arthur C. Clarke short story "The Sentinel". You can read the short story here. A novel by Clarke and the screenplay by Clarke and Kubrik were written simultaneously. I read the book before I first saw this movie, and I highly recommend you do the same, as I'm told the movie is incomprehensible otherwise. My least favorite part of the film is the classical music part of the score. Other than that I'm a big fan.

trailer:



The New Yorker has a history and a consideration of the plot. FilmSite calls it a masterpiece. io9 says, "One of its most enduring qualities is how open to interpretation it is—over the years, the enigmatic film has inspired some fascinating (and/or delightfully batshit crazy) theories about what it all means. This is exactly what the director intended." Slant Magazine has a positive review.

The BBC opens with this:
It’s been 50 years since the release of 2001: A Space Odyssey, and we’re still trying to make sense of it. Stanley Kubrick’s science-fiction masterpiece is regularly voted as one of the greatest films ever made: BBC Culture’s own critics’ poll of the best US cinema ranked it at number four. But 2001 is one of the most puzzling films ever made, too.
Roger Ebert considers it a Great Movie and closes it by saying,
Only a few films are transcendent, and work upon our minds and imaginations like music or prayer or a vast belittling landscape. Most movies are about characters with a goal in mind, who obtain it after difficulties either comic or dramatic. “2001: A Space Odyssey'' is not about a goal but about a quest, a need.
Empire Online concludes, "movies were born for experiences like this." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics rating of 92%.

Saturday, September 01, 2018

Watchers of Time


Watchers of Time (2001) is the 5th in the Inspector Ian Rutledge book series by Charles Todd. The Inspector is a casualty of WW1 struggling to take back up his civilian career. He is able to hide his shell shock, keeping people at a distance, and is haunted by the Scots soldier he executed on the battlefield.

I pick these up as I find them and am not reading them in order. This one begins in September of 1919.

from the back of the book:
In a marshy Norfolk backwater, a priest is brutally murdered after giving a dying man last rites. For Scotland Yard's Ian Rutledge, an ex-officer still recovering from the trauma of war, it looks to be a simple case. Yet the Inspector finds himself uncovering secrets that the local authorities would prefer not to see explored. Rutledge pares away layers of deception to piece together a chain of events that stretches from the brooding marshes to one of the greatest sea disasters in history -the sinking of the Titanic. Who is the mysterious woman who survived it? Only Rutledge can answer those questions... and prevent a killer who'll stop at nothing from striking again.
I have also read the following from this series:
  1. A Test of Wills
  2. Wings of Fire
  3. Search the Dark