Friday, November 30, 2018

A Christmas Carol (1939 radio play)

A Christmas Carol is a radio play narrated by Orson Welles and starring Lionel Barrymore. It aired on December 24, 1939, as part of the Campbell Playhouse radio series, which was a continuation of Welles' Mercury Theatre on the Air.

You can see my blog posts on other Christmas Carol adaptations here.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

The Tractate Middoth

The Tractate Middoth is a 1911 M.R. James ghost story said to be suited for Christmas time, though I don't see a connection between anything in the story and that season. It begins, "Towards the end of an autumn afternoon..."

He could hardly leave it without another look, 
though the recollection of what he had seen there made him shiver, 
even on that bright morning.

You can read it online here and listen to it here:

It has been adapted for tv and radio. This is the 2013 version, adapted by Mark Gatiss:

In 1951, it was adapted as The Lost Will of Dr Rant (with Leslie Nielsen) for the Lights Out mystery series:

Wednesday, November 28, 2018


Rushmore is a 1998 award-winning Wes Anderson film. I tend to like movies by this director, and this is widely considered one of his best. It stars Jason Schwartzman, Olivia Williams, and Bill Murray.

Part of the movie takes place during the Christmas season.


The Guardian calls it an "outrageous, genre-defying movie" and "a finely-judged parable on the line between self-delusion and reality." Rolling Stone has a positive review. Empire Online concludes, "Offbeat and off centre highschool movie with ascerbic one liners delivered by a superb cast. A real treat."

Roger Ebert has a review from the time of the film's release. 89% of Rotten Tomatoes critics reviewers gave it positive reviews.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Orange Coffee

Orange Coffee

ground coffee (not instant)  1/3 cup
grated dried orange peel      1 1/2 teaspoon
cinnamon                             1/2 teaspoon
vanilla extract                      1/2 teaspoon

Thoroughly blend/mix all dry ingredients. Blend in vanilla extract. Scrape sides of container and mix again. You can use a blender for this, but I use a fork.

Makes 1 8-cup pot of coffee, or measure it out for individual pour-over servings.

I had this for Thanksgiving Day, and it was good with breakfast while we watched the parade on television:

and lunch:

and apple pie (compliments of The Daughter) and spice cake:

but my goal was to have the recipe tested and ready to go for the Christmas season. I've given a batch to The Daughter with a promise to refill it on request as I do the Spice Tea mix, and we will both enjoy it during the holidays.

I'm going to link up with the T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering where we share a post that includes a drink. Please join us.

Monday, November 26, 2018

"Ain't I a Woman?"

Sojourner Truth was born into slavery in up-state New York in c. 1797 and grew up speaking Dutch. At about 29 years of age she escaped with her infant daughter (one of five children born to her, 4 of whom survived childhood). Learning that her 5 year old son, one of the 3 she had left behind who weren't covered by the New York Emancipation order that covered her and her infant, had been illegally sold to a man in Alabama, she successfully took the matter to court. In 1843 she became a Methodist, adopted the name Sojourner Truth, and began travelling around speaking an abolitionist message. In 1851 she participated in a lecture tour and gave her extemporaneous speech now known as "Ain't I a Woman?". There is no transcript or recording of the speech, and reports differ. No reports from the time include the phrase now used as the title. This is the report from the time from someone who heard the speech given and had her cooperation in the writing of the report:
Marius Robinson, who attended the convention and worked with Truth, printed the speech as he transcribed it in the June 21, 1851, issue of the Anti-Slavery Bugle.
One of the most unique and interesting speeches of the convention was made by Sojourner Truth, an emancipated slave. It is impossible to transfer it to paper, or convey any adequate idea of the effect it produced upon the audience. Those only can appreciate it who saw her powerful form, her whole-souled, earnest gesture, and listened to her strong and truthful tones. She came forward to the platform and addressing the President said with great simplicity: "May I say a few words?" Receiving an affirmative answer, she proceeded:

I want to say a few words about this matter. I am a woman's rights. I have as much muscle as any man, and can do as much work as any man. I have plowed and reaped and husked and chopped and mowed, and can any man do more than that? I have heard much about the sexes being equal. I can carry as much as any man, and can eat as much too, if I can get it. I am as strong as any man that is now. As for intellect, all I can say is, if a woman have a pint, and a man a quart –why can't she have her little pint full? You need not be afraid to give us our rights for fear we will take too much, –for we can't take more than our pint'll hold. The poor men seems to be all in confusion, and don't know what to do. Why children, if you have woman's rights, give it to her and you will feel better. You will have your own rights, and they won't be so much trouble. I can't read, but I can hear. I have heard the bible and have learned that Eve caused man to sin. Well, if woman upset the world, do give her a chance to set it right side up again. The Lady has spoken about Jesus, how he never spurned woman from him, and she was right. When Lazarus died, Mary and Martha came to him with faith and love and besought him to raise their brother. And Jesus wept and Lazarus came forth. And how came Jesus into the world? Through God who created him and the woman who bore him. Man, where was your part? But the women are coming up blessed be God and a few of the men are coming up with them. But man is in a tight place, the poor slave is on him, woman is coming on him, he is surely between a hawk and a buzzard.
The modern version now known was a re-write of Truth's words that cast her speech pattern and dialect as if she were a poor, black Southerner, quoting her at one point as saying, "Den dat little man in black dar, he say women can't have as much rights as men, 'cause Christ wan't a woman! Whar did your Christ come from?" It's not likely that this is what a woman of any race would sound like who had grown up speaking Dutch in up-state New York. Her speech was re-invented, and although there's no official transcript from the original speech, it's certain to have been much closer to the 1851 report from Robinson, who worked with Truth to compose his report. The speech has taken on a life of its own -over and above whatever she actually said in 1851- and I guess I'm just going to have to accept that what's understood to be what happened ain't always connected with what actually happened in much of history.

There have been attempts to reconstruct her speech using Afro-Dutch accented English, her particular dialect having been lost and not reconstructable, and the earliest report of the speech. Here's one:

Sojourner Truth died on this date in 1883.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Dom (The Cat's House)

Dom (The Cat's House) is an award-winning 1958 animated Russian short film directed by Leonid Amalrik about two poor homeless kittens who seek shelter with the wealthy cat "aunt" who has just built a fancy new house. When her home burns down she learns first-hand what it's like to be homeless and to be refused shelter. A sweet story.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Happy Evolution Day!

Evolution Day observes the date of the original publication of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species in 1859. The book can be read online here or here or here. Some people continue to misunderstand the theory, but there are explanations online that make it easy to understand even for folks like me for whom science is not a first language. has some information, How Stuff Works has some basics, and Wikipedia has an entry.

This is a history of the theory:

This is a Nova documentary:

I haven't seen the videos yet, but I plan to watch them later in observance of the day.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Season of the Witch

Season of the Witch is a 2011 adventure/fantasy about two veteran crusaders (Ron Perlman and Nicholas Cage) who become disillusioned by the slaughter of innocents and leave the Crusade. They  get pressed into service by a dying cardinal (Christopher Lee) to take a witch to a monastery to use  the last remaining copy of the book to exorcise her and end the Bubonic plague. This is a fun film, with enough medieval/crusade history to give it real atmosphere and enough supernatural elements to add punch.


Thursday, November 22, 2018

An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving, by Louisa May Alcott

Happy Thanksgiving!

An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving is an 1881 short story by Louisa May Alcott. You can read it online at this link or have it read to you here. It begins,
Sixty years ago, up among the New Hampshire hills, lived Farmer Bassett, with a house full of sturdy sons and daughters growing up about him. They were poor in money, but rich in land and love, for the wide acres of wood, corn, and pasture land fed, warmed, and clothed the flock, while mutual patience, affection, and courage made the old farm-house a very happy home.

November had come; the crops were in, and barn, buttery, and bin were overflowing with the harvest that rewarded the summer's hard work. The big kitchen was a jolly place just now, for in the great fireplace roared a cheerful fire; on the walls hung garlands of dried apples, onions, and corn; up aloft from the beams shone crook-necked squashes, juicy hams, and dried venison—for in those days deer still haunted the deep forests, and hunters flourished. Savory smells were in the air; on the crane hung steaming kettles, and down among the red embers copper sauce-pans simmered, all suggestive of some approaching feast.

A white-headed baby lay in the old blue cradle that had rocked seven other babies, now and then lifting his head to look out, like a round, full moon, then subsided to kick and crow contentedly, and suck the rosy apple he had no teeth to bite. Two small boys sat on the wooden settle shelling corn for popping, and picking out the biggest nuts from the goodly store their own hands had gathered in October. Four young girls stood at the long dresser, busily chopping meat, pounding spice, and slicing apples; and the tongues of Tilly, Prue, Roxy, and Rhody went as fast as their hands. Farmer Bassett, and Eph, the oldest boy, were "chorin' 'round" outside, for Thanksgiving was at hand, and all must be in order for that time-honored day.

To and fro, from table to hearth, bustled buxom Mrs. Bassett, flushed and floury, but busy and blithe as the queen bee of this busy little hive should be.

"I do like to begin seasonable and have things to my mind. Thanksgivin' dinners can't be drove, and it does take a sight of victuals to fill all these hungry stomicks," said the good woman, as she gave a vigorous stir to the great kettle of cider apple-sauce, and cast a glance of housewifely pride at the fine array of pies set forth on the buttery shelves.

"Only one more day and then it will be time to eat. I didn't take but one bowl of hasty pudding this morning, so I shall have plenty of room when the nice things come," confided Seth to Sol, as he cracked a large hazel-nut as easily as a squirrel.

"No need of my starvin' beforehand. I always have room enough, and I'd like to have Thanksgiving every day," answered Solomon, gloating like a young ogre over the little pig that lay near by, ready for roasting.

"Sakes alive, I don't, boys! It's a marcy it don't come but once a year. I should be worn to a thread-paper with all this extra work atop of my winter weavin' and spinnin'," laughed their mother, as she plunged her plump arms into the long bread-trough and began to knead the dough as if a famine was at hand.

Tilly, the oldest girl, a red-cheeked, black-eyed lass of fourteen, was grinding briskly at the mortar, for spices were costly, and not a grain must be wasted. Prue kept time with the chopper, and the twins sliced away at the apples till their little brown arms ached, for all knew how to work, and did so now with a will.

"I think it's real fun to have Thanksgiving at home. I'm sorry Gran'ma is sick, so we can't go there as usual, but I like to mess 'round here, don't you, girls?" asked Tilly, pausing to take a sniff at the spicy pestle.

"It will be kind of lonesome with only our own folks." "I like to see all the cousins and aunts, and have games, and sing," cried the twins, who were regular little romps, and could run, swim, coast and shout as well as their brothers.

"I don't care a mite for all that. It will be so nice to eat dinner together, warm and comfortable at home," said quiet Prue, who loved her own cozy nooks like a cat.

"Come, girls, fly 'round and get your chores done, so we can clear away for dinner jest as soon as I clap my bread into the oven," called Mrs. Bassett presently, as she rounded off the last loaf of brown bread which was to feed the hungry mouths that seldom tasted any other.

"Here's a man comin' up the hill, lively!" "Guess it's Gad Hopkins. Pa told him to bring a dezzen oranges, if they warn't too high!" shouted Sol and Seth, running to the door, while the girls smacked their lips at the thought of this rare treat, and Baby threw his apple overboard, as if getting ready for a new cargo.

But all were doomed to disappointment, for it was not Gad, with the much-desired fruit. It was a stranger, who threw himself off his horse and hurried up to Mr. Bassett in the yard, with some brief message that made the farmer drop his ax and look so sober that his wife guessed at once some bad news had come; and crying, "Mother's wuss! I know she is!" out ran the good woman, forgetful of the flour on her arms and the oven waiting for its most important batch.

The man said old Mr. Chadwick, down to Keene, stopped him as he passed, and told him to tell Mrs. Bassett her mother was failin' fast, and she'd better come to-day. He knew no more, and having delivered his errand he rode away, saying it looked like snow and he must be jogging, or he wouldn't get home till night.

"We must go right off, Eldad. Hitch up, and I'll be ready in less'n no time," said Mrs. Bassett, wasting not a minute in tears and lamentations, but pulling off her apron as she went in, with her mind in a sad jumble of bread, anxiety, turkey, sorrow, haste, and cider apple-sauce.

A few words told the story, and the children left their work to help her get ready, mingling their grief for "Gran'ma" with regrets for the lost dinner.

"I'm dreadful sorry, dears, but it can't be helped. I couldn't cook nor eat no way, now, and if that blessed woman gets better sudden, as she has before, we'll have cause for thanksgivin', and I'll give you a dinner you won't forget in a hurry," said Mrs. Bassett, as she tied on her brown silk pumpkin-hood, with a sob for the good old mother who had made it for her.

Not a child complained after that, but ran about helpfully, bringing moccasins, heating the footstone, and getting ready for a long drive, because Gran'ma lived twenty miles away, and there were no railroads in those parts to whisk people to and fro like magic. By the time the old yellow sleigh was at the door, the bread was in the oven, and Mrs. Bassett was waiting, with her camlet cloak on, and the baby done up like a small bale of blankets.
It was very loosely adapted for television with Jacqueline Bisset, and you can view it divided into two parts. Part 1:

Part 2:

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

A Life at Stake

A Life at Stake is a 1955 film noir starring Angela Lansbury. Jane Darwell is the landlady. Fairly standard for its genre, but it has Angela Lansbury in it:

so how can you not watch?

via Youtube:

TCM has an overview.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Still Life with Frosted Glass Mug, Apples and Pine Branch

Still Life with Frosted Glass Mug, Apples and Pine Branch (c.1902):

by Paula Modersohn-Becker, who died of a postpartum embolism at the age of 31 on November 21, 1907, after the birth of her first child. These early deaths are tragic. She was the first artist to paint nude self-portraits, and the New Yorker article gives a sense of what she might have accomplished had she lived. Her last words: "What a pity." What an understatement!

She has a museum in Bremen, "the first museum in the world to be dedicated to the work of a female painter."

Rainer Maria Rilke wrote Requiem for a Friend in her memory. It is in the public domain, but this translation is not, so I will post an excerpt and link to the original. There is a translation that can be used for non-commercial purposes here.

I have my dead and I have let them go and was amazed to see them so contented, so at home in being dead, so cheerful, so unlike their reputation. Only you return; brush past me, loiter, try to knock against something, so that the sound reveals your presence. Oh don’t take from me what I am slowly learning. I’m sure you have gone astray if you are moved to homesickness for anything in this dimension. We transform these Things; they aren’t real, they are only the reflections upon the polished surface of our being.

I thought you were much further on. It troubles me that you should stray back, you, who have achieved more transformation than any other woman.That we were frightened when you died... no; rather: that your stern death broke in upon us, darkly, wrenching the till-then from the ever-since - this concerns us: setting it all in order is the task we have continually before us. But that you, too, were frightened, and even now pulse with your fear, where fear can have no meaning; that you have lost even the smallest fragment of your eternity, Paula, and have entered here, where nothing yet exists; that out there, bewildered for the first time, inattentive, you didn’t grasp the splendor of the infinite forces, as on earth you grasped each Thing; that, from the realm which had already received you, the gravity of some old discontent had dragged you back to measurable time. This often startles me out of dreamless sleep at night, like a thief climbing in my window.


Are you still here? Are you standing in some corner? You knew so much of all this, you were able to do so much; you passed through life so open to all things, like an early morning. I know: women suffer; for love means being alone; and artists in their work sometimes intuit that they must keep transforming, where they love. You began both; both exist in that which any fame takes from you and disfigures. Oh you were far beyond all fame; were almost invisible; had withdrawn your beauty, softly, as one would lower a brightly colored flag on the gray morning after a holiday. You had just one desire: a year’s long work - which was never finished; was somehow never finished. If you are still here with me, if in this darkness there is still some place where your spirit resonates on the shallow sound waves stirred up by my voice: hear me: help me. We can so easily slip back from what we have struggled to attain, abruptly, into a life we never wanted; can find that we are trapped, as in a dream, and die there, without ever waking up. This can occur. Anyone who has lifted his blood into a years-long work may find that he can’t sustain it, the force of gravity is irresistible, and it falls back, worthless. For somewhere there is an ancient enmity between our daily life and the great work. Help me, in saying it, to understand it.

Do not return. If you can bear to, stay dead with the dead. The dead have their own tasks. But help me, if you can without distraction, as what is farthest sometimes helps: in me.

She had painted his portrait the year before her death:

The glass in the painting at the top of my post is my connection to T Stands for Tuesday, where we share a post with a drink in it and visit with each other. Join me? A warm welcome is waiting for you.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Films of India

This is an effort to keep a list of Indian films or Indian co-productions I've seen. I'll put a link in my sidebar with my other film lists once this posts.


A Throw of Dice (1929)


Nagin (1954)
The Apu Trilogy (1955, 1956, 1959)
Two Eyes, Twelve Hands (1957)
The Music Room (1958)


Devi (The Goddess) (1960)
Kanchenjungha (1962)
Mahanagar (The Big City) (1963)
Charulata, or The Lonely Wife (1964)


Printed Rainbow (2006)
Naina (2005)

Sunday, November 18, 2018

The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County

The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, a Mark Twain short story, was published on this date in 1865. You can read it online here, and if you haven't read it you won't regret spending a bit of time with this amusing tale. It begins,
In compliance with the request of a friend of mine, who wrote me from the East, I called on good-natured, garrulous old Simon Wheeler, and inquired after my friend's friend, Leonidas W. Smiley, as requested to do, and I hereunto append the result. I have a lurking suspicion that Leonidas W. Smiley is a myth; that my friend never knew such a personage; and that he only conjectured that, if I asked old Wheeler about him, it would remind him of his infamous Jim Smiley, and he would go to work and bore me nearly to death with some infernal reminiscence of him as long and tedious as it should be useless to me. If that was the design, it certainly succeeded.

I found Simon Wheeler dozing comfortably by the bar-room stove of the old, dilapidated tavern in the ancient mining camp of Angel's, and I noticed that he was fat and bald-headed, and had an expression of winning gentleness and simplicity upon his tranquil countenance. He roused up and gave me good-day. I told him a friend of mine had commissioned me to make some inquiries about a cherished companion of his boyhood named Leonidas W. Smiley Rev. Leonidas W. Smiley a young minister of the Gospel, who he had heard was at one time a resident of Angel's Camp. I added that, if Mr. Wheeler could tell me any thing about this Rev. Leonidas W. Smiley, I would feel under many obligations to him.

Simon Wheeler backed me into a corner and blockaded me there with his chair, and then sat me down and reeled off the monotonous narrative which follows this paragraph. He never smiled, he never frowned, he never changed his voice from the gentle-flowing key to which he tuned the initial sentence, he never betrayed the slightest suspicion of enthusiasm; but all through the interminable narrative there ran a vein of impressive earnestness and sincerity, which showed me plainly that, so far from his imagining that there was any thing ridiculous or funny about his story, he regarded it as a really important matter, and admired its two heroes as men of transcendent genius in finesse. To me, the spectacle of a man drifting serenely along through such a queer yarn without ever smiling, was exquisitely absurd. As I said before, I asked him to tell me what he knew of Rev. Leonidas W. Smiley, and he replied as follows. I let him go on in his own way, and never interrupted him once:
You can listen to it:

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Rio Grande (1950)

Rio Grande is a 1950 western directed by John Ford and starring John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara. This is a standard western, with no strange and modern innovations to distract you from the basic cavalry and Indians plot. Not that I mind strange and modern innovations, but sometimes I just want a traditional western. This is one. Oh, and there are singing cowboys. You've been warned.

I watched this online, but I don't see it now. Here's the trailer:

The New York Times concludes a positive review with this: "Despite General Sheridan's pensive aside, "I wonder what history will say about this," Mr. Ford needn't worry. Chances are his public will eat it up." Slant Magazine calls it "a film of great warmth and humor". Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 75%.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Mid-November Snow!

Snow in November is almost unheard of here, but we got some Wednesday afternoon. Not much, mind you:

It was pretty while it lasted:

Yesterday morning, the day after the snow, it looked like this:

and by noon it had melted away. Tomorrow we have a predicted high of 64.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

The Man Who Changed His Mind

The Man Who Changed His Mind is a 1936 British horror film starring Boris Karloff as the mad scientist:

"I was the leading surgeon in Genoa - the greatest authority upon the human brain,
until I told them something about their own brains.
Then they said I was mad. Look at me. Am I mad?"

Well, yes, since you asked, yes. You are mad.

I love the hats in these old movies:

via Youtube:

This doesn't seem to be much reviewed, and I imagine it was dismissed as a stiff, inconsequential effort not worth reviewing. It's fun if you're a Karloff fan.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Legend of Shangri-la

image found online

The Legend of Shangri-la is a 2006 award-winning Chinese animated short film based on The Peach Blossom Spring, which is a 420 CE poem. Two men have tea together at 1:50 in part one below as the fisherman begins to tell the rich man the story of his experience in the fabled Shangri-la:

part 1:

At the beginning of part two below you can see the hospitality shown him by the Shangri-la residents: "They entertained me with their best wine and food in abundance."

part 2:

I'm sharing this at the weekly T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering, where we share a post with a drink in it. Please join the fun.

Monday, November 12, 2018


photo from Wikipedia

Blindsight is a 2006 science fiction novel by Peter Watts. You can read it online here. From Wikipedia:
The novel follows a crew of astronauts sent out as the third wave, following two series of probes, to investigate a trans-Neptunian Kuiper belt comet dubbed 'Burns-Caulfield' that has been found to be transmitting an unidentified radio signal to an as-yet unknown destination elsewhere in the solar system, followed by their subsequent first contact. The novel explores questions of identity, consciousness, free will, artificial intelligence, neurology, game theory as well as evolution and biology.
favorite quote:
There's no such thing as survival of the fittest. Survival of the most adequate, maybe. It doesn't matter whether a solution's optimal. All that matters is whether it beats the alternatives.

Elizabeth Bear has an appreciation at Tor that begins, "It’s my opinion that Peter Watts’s Blindsight is the best hard science fiction novel of the first decade of this millennium". Kirkus Reviews calls it "a searching, disconcerting, challenging, sometimes piercing inquisition". SF Site says it's "a brilliant book".

Eyrie says, "This is solid speculative fiction with high stakes, an unflinching look at possibly very different forms of life, and a thought-provoking contribution to an ongoing discussion in SF about the nature of intelligent life."

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Black Death

Black Death is a 2010 film about a novice monk pressed into service over the objections of his prior (David Warner) to be guide to a small group of men sent by Church officials and led by Knight Ulric (Sean Bean) to a remote town still untouched by the plague. Their goal is to find whatever demon-possessed witch or necromancer is responsible for the town's protection and force a confession and kill them to end the plague. It's a bizarre story with a heart-breaking ending.


The Hollywood Reporter says it "achieves its goal of reproducing a medieval Europe awash with rats, filth and rotting corpses and men of violence ready to rip apart the bodies of any who have the temerity not to be sick. It’s a gloomy, despicable world". Slant Magazine gives it 3 out of 4 stars. Rotten Tomatoes has a mostly positive critics score at 70%, meaning 70% of the critics who submitted reviews liked it.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Mutiny on the Bounty

Mutiny on the Bounty is a 1935 film starring Charles Laughton as Captain Bligh and Clark Gable as Fletcher Christian. This is one of those must-see classics. You can rent it online for cheap, but I never see this one available free. The last time I saw it I came across it on television with commercials.


Slant Magazine concludes,
An unequivocal success upon its 1935 release, Frank Lloyd's big, astute spectacle can now be seen as a Swiss clock-type example of screenplay structure and a showcase for adventure unencumbered by beasts, blood, or much romance.
FilmSite calls it "one of the best nautical adventure films of all time and one of MGM's greatest classics." DVD Talk has a positive review. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 94%.

Friday, November 09, 2018

The Magic Shop

The Magic Shop is a 1903 H.G. Wells short story. You can read it here or here. It begins:
I had seen the Magic Shop from afar several times; I had passed it once or twice, a shop window of alluring little objects, magic balls, magic hens, wonderful cones, ventriloquist dolls, the material of the basket trick, packs of cards that LOOKED all right, and all that sort of thing, but never had I thought of going in until one day, almost without warning, Gip hauled me by my finger right up to the window, and so conducted himself that there was nothing for it but to take him in. I had not thought the place was there, to tell the truth — a modest-sized frontage in Regent Street, between the picture shop and the place where the chicks run about just out of patent incubators, but there it was sure enough. I had fancied it was down nearer the Circus, or round the corner in Oxford Street, or even in Holborn; always over the way and a little inaccessible it had been, with something of the mirage in its position; but here it was now quite indisputably, and the fat end of Gip’s pointing finger made a noise upon the glass.

“If I was rich,” said Gip, dabbing a finger at the Disappearing Egg, “I’d buy myself that. And that” —which was The Crying Baby, Very Human— and that,” which was a mystery, and called, so a neat card asserted, “Buy One and Astonish Your Friends.”

“Anything,” said Gip, “will disappear under one of those cones. I have read about it in a book.

“And there, dadda, is the Vanishing Halfpenny —only they’ve put it this way up so’s we can’t see how it’s done.”

Gip, dear boy, inherits his mother’s breeding, and he did not propose to enter the shop or worry in any way; only, you know, quite unconsciously he lugged my finger doorward, and he made his interest clear.

“That,” he said, and pointed to the Magic Bottle.

“If you had that?” I said; at which promising inquiry he looked up with a sudden radiance.

“I could show it to Jessie,” he said, thoughtful as ever of others.

“It’s less than a hundred days to your birthday, Gibbles,” I said, and laid my hand on the door-handle.

Gip made no answer, but his grip tightened on my finger, and so we came into the shop.
Listen to it here:

Thursday, November 08, 2018

The Abominable Snowman

The Abominable Snowman is a 1957 adventure film about an expedition into the snow-covered Himalayan peaks to find the yeti of legend. It's directed by Val Guest and stars Peter Cushing and Forrest Tucker; Nigel Kneale wrote it, basing it on a play he had written for television. Forrest Tucker is one of my favorites, and I never turn down a chance to see him.

A Hammer film, it is different in every possible way (except that Cushing is here) from the movies Hammer usually released. It's hard to convince people who don't like horror or science fiction films that they'll like this movie, so I won't try. But give it a chance. It's not what you think.

Mysterious Universe says, "It’s unfortunate that, despite its intelligent and thought-provoking storyline, The Abominable Snowman was not a big hit. It was filled with subtlety, restraint, and monsters that weren’t actually monstrous, after all. That’s not what the viewers wanted, however."

1000 Misspent Hours calls it "easily the best of the rash of Yeti movies that came out in the mid-1950’s". DVD Talk says, "it plays as a mature ecological fable, more powerful than a fistful of cautionary ecological documentaries."

Moria says, "the film builds to an ending that is interesting and certainly different to the xenophobic confrontations with the alien in American films of the period. Peter Cushing (who played the same role in the original tv version) gives another of his perfectly-elocuted aristocratic performances and Forrest Tucker has fun as the barnstorming American."

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

One Autumn Night

Lev Kamenev, Fog. Red Pond in Moscow in Autumn, 1871

One Autumn Night is an 1895 short story by Maxim Gorky. You can read it online here. It begins,
Once in the autumn I happened to be in a very unpleasant and inconvenient position. In the town where I had just arrived and where I knew not a soul, I found myself without a farthing in my pocket and without a night's lodging.

Having sold during the first few days every part of my costume without which it was still possible to go about, I passed from the town into the quarter called "Yste," where were the steamship wharves—a quarter which during the navigation season fermented with boisterous, laborious life, but now was silent and deserted, for we were in the last days of October.

Dragging my feet along the moist sand, and obstinately scrutinising it with the desire to discover in it any sort of fragment of food, I wandered alone among the deserted buildings and warehouses, and thought how good it would be to get a full meal.

In our present state of culture hunger of the mind is more quickly satisfied than hunger of the body. You wander about the streets, you are surrounded by buildings not bad-looking from the outside and —you may safely say it— not so badly furnished inside, and the sight of them may excite within you stimulating ideas about architecture, hygiene, and many other wise and high-flying subjects. You may meet warmly and neatly dressed folks—all very polite, and turning away from you tactfully, not wishing offensively to notice the lamentable fact of your existence. Well, well, the mind of a hungry man is always better nourished and healthier than the mind of the well-fed man; and there you have a situation from which you may draw a very ingenious conclusion in favour of the ill fed.

The evening was approaching, the rain was falling, and the wind blew violently from the north. It whistled in the empty booths and shops, blew into the plastered window-panes of the taverns, and whipped into foam the wavelets of the river which splashed noisily on the sandy shore, casting high their white crests, racing one after another into the dim distance, and leaping impetuously over one another's shoulders. It seemed as if the river felt the proximity of winter, and was running at random away from the fetters of ice which the north wind might well have flung upon her that very night. The sky was heavy and dark; down from it swept incessantly scarcely visible drops of rain, and the melancholy elegy in nature all around me was emphasised by a couple of battered and misshapen willow-trees and a boat, bottom upwards, that was fastened to their roots.

The overturned canoe with its battered keel and the miserable old trees rifled by the cold wind —everything around me was bankrupt, barren, and dead, and the sky flowed with undryable tears... Everything around was waste and gloomy... it seemed as if everything were dead, leaving me alone among the living, and for me also a cold death waited.

I was then eighteen years old —a good time!
You can have it read to you here:

Maxim Gorky (1868-1936)

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Coffee, by Henri Matisse

Coffee (1916):

by Henri Matisse, who died on November 3 in 1954 at the age of 84.

I had a birthday last month, and The Daughter gave me a lovely mug for Autumn:

along with some coffee and chocolates. Mine's more cozy and less exotic than Matisse's vision, but I always feel the desire for "cozy" when the weather is cold.

Please join the weekly blogger gathering at Bleubeard and Elizabeth's, and share a post with a drink in it.

Monday, November 05, 2018


Arrival is a 2016 first contact science fiction film on the nature of time. I find the concept of non-linear time fascinating, and this movie is brilliant. And gorgeous. The score is perfect. It's directed by Denis Villeneuve and stars Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Forest Whitaker.


Rolling Stone concludes by saying, "the film gets inside your head and emerges as something intimate and epic, a linguistics odyssey through space and time. It’s the stuff that dreams are made of." The New Yorker says, "what lingers, days after you leave the cinema, is neither the wizardry nor the climax but the zephyr of emotional intensity that blows through the film." The Atlantic concludes by calling it "the best film of the year, ambitious in conception and extraordinary in execution".

Roger Ebert's site calls it "ambitious and moving" and "ambitious, accomplished filmmaking that deserves an audience". Rotten Tomatoes has a critics rating of 94%.

Sunday, November 04, 2018

The Dead

The Dead is a 1914 short story (more novella length) by James Joyce. The dead are always with us, and that's a fact. The New York Times calls it "just about the finest short story in the English language." You can read the story online here. It begins,
LILY, the caretaker's daughter, was literally run off her feet. Hardly had she brought one gentleman into the little pantry behind the office on the ground floor and helped him off with his overcoat than the wheezy hall-door bell clanged again and she had to scamper along the bare hallway to let in another guest. It was well for her she had not to attend to the ladies also. But Miss Kate and Miss Julia had thought of that and had converted the bathroom upstairs into a ladies' dressing-room. Miss Kate and Miss Julia were there, gossiping and laughing and fussing, walking after each other to the head of the stairs, peering down over the banisters and calling down to Lily to ask her who had come.

It was always a great affair, the Misses Morkan's annual dance. Everybody who knew them came to it, members of the family, old friends of the family, the members of Julia's choir, any of Kate's pupils that were grown up enough, and even some of Mary Jane's pupils too. Never once had it fallen flat. For years and years it had gone off in splendid style, as long as anyone could remember; ever since Kate and Julia, after the death of their brother Pat, had left the house in Stoney Batter and taken Mary Jane, their only niece, to live with them in the dark, gaunt house on Usher's Island, the upper part of which they had rented from Mr. Fulham, the corn-factor on the ground floor. That was a good thirty years ago if it was a day. Mary Jane, who was then a little girl in short clothes, was now the main prop of the household, for she had the organ in Haddington Road. She had been through the Academy and gave a pupils' concert every year in the upper room of the Antient Concert Rooms. Many of her pupils belonged to the better-class families on the Kingstown and Dalkey line. Old as they were, her aunts also did their share. Julia, though she was quite grey, was still the leading soprano in Adam and Eve's, and Kate, being too feeble to go about much, gave music lessons to beginners on the old square piano in the back room. Lily, the caretaker's daughter, did housemaid's work for them. Though their life was modest, they believed in eating well; the best of everything: diamond-bone sirloins, three-shilling tea and the best bottled stout. But Lily seldom made a mistake in the orders, so that she got on well with her three mistresses. They were fussy, that was all. But the only thing they would not stand was back answers.

Of course, they had good reason to be fussy on such a night. And then it was long after ten o'clock and yet there was no sign of Gabriel and his wife. Besides they were dreadfully afraid that Freddy Malins might turn up screwed. They would not wish for worlds that any of Mary Jane's pupils should see him under the influence; and when he was like that it was sometimes very hard to manage him. Freddy Malins always came late, but they wondered what could be keeping Gabriel: and that was what brought them every two minutes to the banisters to ask Lily had Gabriel or Freddy come.

"O, Mr. Conroy," said Lily to Gabriel when she opened the door for him, "Miss Kate and Miss Julia thought you were never coming. Good-night, Mrs. Conroy."

It was adapted for film in 1987 as the award-winning The Dead, a faithful treatment directed by John Huston and starring Anjelica Huston. I haven't seen the movie.


The New York Times says, "'The Dead' is so fine, in unexpected ways, that it almost demands a re-evaluation of Huston's entire body of work." Slant Magazine gives it 3 out of 4 stars. It's on Roger Ebert's list of Great Films, and he has a glowing review. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics rating of 93%.

Saturday, November 03, 2018

Neely's Interstate BBQ

We had meant to go to Neely's Interstate BBQ for ages but never had. When The Husband was on vacation we were unable to take a trip, so we did a staycation. This was something we treated ourselves to that week. You can read their history here. This is the view from where we sat:

I had the small (yes, that's what they call "small") BBQ sandwich with beans and a Coke:

Delicious! You can see the menu here.

Afterwards we went to the Lichterman Nature Center

where they have a display of scarecrows:

There's not much Autumn color,

but it was a pleasant outing anyway.

Friday, November 02, 2018

Noroi (The Curse)

My October horror fest is over, but I'll still be posting a horror film a coupla times a month. I think there are more horror films than any other genre, and there are a lot of good ones.

Noroi (The Curse) is a 2005 Japanese found footage horror film made as if a documentary. This isn't a gory film and doesn't have "jump" scenes but focuses on the experiences of people who've come into contact with the curse. The plot summary at Wikipedia begins with this:
The film focuses on Masafumi Kobayashi, a paranormal expert who produced a series of books and documentaries on supernatural activity around Japan. He disappeared in the process of making his most disturbing documentary, The Curse. His house burnt down and his wife Keiko was found dead in the ruins. The aforementioned movie begins to play, shown mostly through the recordings of Kobayashi's cameraman Miyajima.

via Youtube:

It seems to have gotten generally positive reviews.

Thursday, November 01, 2018

The Coroner's Lunch

The Coroner's Lunch by Colin Cotterill is the first book in the Dr. Siri Paiboun series. I had never read a book set in Laos and enjoyed the atmosphere and learning something of the culture of the time. The characters are well-drawn, and the plot and sub-plots are fascinating. The book features one character with Down Syndrome who holds a position of responsibility in the coroner's office. This book begins in the Autumn of 1978.

from the back of the book:
Laos, 1978; Dr. Siri Paiboun, a 72-year-old medical doctor, has unwillingly been appointed the national coroner of the new socialist Laos. His lab is underfunded, his boss is incompetent, and his support staff is quirky, to say the least. But Siri's sense of humor gets him through his often frustrating days. When the body of the wife of a prominent politician comes through his morgue, Siri has reason to suspect the woman has been murdered. To get to the truth, Siri and his team face government secrets, spying neighbors, victim hauntings, Hmong shamans, botched romances, and other deadly dangers. Somehow, Siri must figure out a way to balance the will of the party and the will of the dead.
Eurocrime says,
I was lost in admiration at this wonderful book: for the convincing and sympathetic portrait of a man and his little circle of friends and their lives; and for the exciting and clever dramas that, in the end, come to a completely satisfying conclusion, even solving a mystery very personal to Siri himself.
NPR has an interview with the author. Kirkus Reviews closes by saying, "This series kickoff is an embarrassment of riches: Holmesian sleuthing, political satire, and droll comic study of a prickly late bloomer." Publishers Weekly concludes, "this debut mystery, with its convincing and highly interesting portrayal of an exotic locale, marks the author as someone to watch."