Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Year's End


Year's End is a poem by Richard Wilbur. You can read it here. It begins
Now winter downs the dying of the year,
And night is all a settlement of snow;
...

We've had unusually warm weather lately -our high Christmas Day was 69F- and I won't be surprised if we never see snow again. I miss the snow we got in the days gone by, but I can still enjoy the happy memories sparked by photos and paintings of snowscapes.

*******

Please join us at Bleubeard and Elizabeth's T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering. Share a post with a drink in it. Lift a glass with me, and let's toast the old year out and the new year in.


Let us treasure the fond memories and allow ourselves to let go of regret and mistakes from the past. Let us commit to hope in the coming year. May it bring you blessings.

Here's my Raspberry Bellini recipe:

  • 1 Tbsp raspberry jam
  • 4 oz champagne or sparkling white wine
  • 1 fresh raspberry for garnish




Monday, December 30, 2019

The Five Major World Religions

The Five Major World Religions:



is a 10-minute TED Talk. "Explore the intertwined histories and cultures of the major religions: Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam."

As we approach a new year, I hope we can approach each other with peace and an attempt at understanding.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Wounded Knee



Today is the anniversary of the Wounded Knee massacre in 1890. I remember reading Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown and being shocked and horrified. It's not that I hadn't learned of the massacre in school, but I must say I hadn't learned much in the way of details about it. I'd encourage you to find and read that book. There are several options at Amazon, including free e-book and audio editions with their Audible and Kindle trials. Or I'll bet your library has it.

History sites such as these have information:

There've been video explorations of the tragedy, including this 10-minute video focusing on the Ghost Dance:



Here's the story of the one child who survived the slaughter:



Take a moment during these 12 days of Christmas to reflect on the evil in our history.  Reflecting on our present political state in light of these past horrors, I wonder if we've learned anything.


Saturday, December 28, 2019

Down Pens


Down Pens is a short story by Saki. You can read it online here. It begins,
"Have you written to thank the Froplinsons for what they sent us?" asked Egbert.

"No," said Janetta, with a note of tired defiance in her voice; "I've written eleven letters to-day expressing surprise and gratitude for sundry unmerited gifts, but I haven't written to the Froplinsons."

"Some one will have to write to them," said Egbert.

"I don't dispute the necessity, but I don't think the some one should be me," said Janetta. "I wouldn't mind writing a letter of angry recrimination or heartless satire to some suitable recipient; in fact, I should rather enjoy it, but I've come to the end of my capacity for expressing servile amiability. Eleven letters to-day and nine yesterday, all couched in the same strain of ecstatic thankfulness: really, you can't expect me to sit down to another. There is such a thing as writing oneself out."

"I've written nearly as many," said Egbert, "and I've had my usual business correspondence to get through, too. Besides, I don't know what it was that the Froplinsons sent us."

"A William the Conqueror calendar," said Janetta, "with a quotation of one of his great thoughts for every day in the year."

"Impossible," said Egbert; "he didn't have three hundred and sixty-five thoughts in the whole of his life, or, if he did, he kept them to himself. He was a man of action, not of introspection."

"Well, it was William Wordsworth, then," said Janetta; "I know William came into it somewhere."

Friday, December 27, 2019

Never Mess with Mistletoe

image from Amazon.com

Never Mess with Mistletoe is a 2016 mystery novel, 10th in the Leigh Koslow series, by Edie Claire. You can read it online here at Google Play. I've never read any of this series and only read this one because it was free. I liked it. The set-up is interesting, and the festive seasonal setting is fun.

Here's the plot description from Fantastic Fiction:
Frances Koslow was ecstatic to have her humble abode chosen as stop #3 on the Holiday House Tour. Then everyone drank the cider.

When Leigh's parents' house becomes a last-minute substitution on the regional garden club's famous Holiday House Tour, Frances Koslow is thrilled. But the tour is tomorrow, there's work to be done, and Frances's dwindling and aging "Floribunda" chapter is in dire need of reinforcements. Worried about her mother's blood pressure, particularly as sisterly tensions rise over Leigh's Aunt Lydie's upcoming Christmas Eve wedding, Leigh steps in to make sure the tour runs smoothly.

But perhaps Leigh isn't the ideal choice for the task. Not when a fortune cookie has just portended the return of her infamous "bad karma." Not when everyone knows the real reason the Floribundas have declined is because every remaining member is a whackadoodle. And not when someone's idea of Christmas spirit is to add a little something extra to the sweet cider punch.

One dead Floribunda later, Leigh struggles to keep her family calm in the midst of swirling suspicions, flying accusations, and dubious warnings of biological warfare. But when someone threatens to silence her own all-too-curious daughter, mother-rage kicks in. Nobody is ruining Leigh's family's Merry Christmas. Not even her family.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

A Silent Panic

A Silent Panic is a half-hour episode of the television series The DuPont Show with June Allyson. It stars Harpo Marx in a dramatic role, his first. The story takes place during the Christmas season.

from the IMDb: "A deaf-mute witnesses a murder but is unable to tell the police what he knows. Meanwhile the killer and his accomplice seek to find the deaf-mute in order to eliminate him."

You can see it at this link or below:


Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Merry Christmas!

Please join me in listening to some Christmas music



If you haven't signed up for free Spotify (why not?) there's Christmas music on Youtube. Here's instrumental music with a fireplace video:



Here's 8 hours of Christmas music against the background of a view of snow falling:




Merry Christmas!


Tuesday, December 24, 2019

The Tailor by the Hearth

The Tailor by the Hearth (1902):


is an illustration from Beatrix Potter's book The Tailor of Gloucester, which takes place in the days leading up to Christmas morning. There is a museum. Potter died on December 22, 1943, of complications from pneumonia and heart disease at the age of 77.

Just look at that cozy scene. That kettle will stay hot, I'm sure, in its place there, and we'll have a cuppa together. Please share your own drink-related post and join the weekly T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering hosted by Bleubeard and Elizabeth.

You can read the book here or here. It begins,
In the time of swords and periwigs and full-skirted coats with flowered lappets—when gentlemen wore ruffles, and gold-laced waistcoats of paduasoy and taffeta—there lived a tailor in Gloucester.

He sat in the window of a little shop in Westgate Street, cross-legged on a table from morning till dark.

All day long while the light lasted he sewed and snippetted, piecing out his satin, and pompadour, and lutestring; stuffs had strange names, and were very expensive in the days of the Tailor of Gloucester.

But although he sewed fine silk for his neighbours, he himself was very, very poor—a little old man in spectacles, with a pinched face, old crooked fingers, and a suit of threadbare clothes.

He cut his coats without waste; according to his embroidered cloth, they were very small ends and snippets that lay about upon the table—"Too narrow breadths for nought—except waistcoats for mice," said the tailor.

One bitter cold day near Christmas-time the tailor began to make a coat (a coat of cherry-coloured corded silk embroidered with pansies and roses) and a cream-coloured satin waistcoat (trimmed with gauze and green worsted chenille) for the Mayor of Gloucester.
The story has been adapted several times, including a 1999 live-action adaptation starring Ian Holm, Thora Hird, and Jude Law:



and an animated version from 1993:








Monday, December 23, 2019

Larceny, Inc.

Larceny, Inc. is a 1942 comedy gangster film starring Edward G Robinson, Jane Wyman, Broderick Crawford, and Anthony Quinn. This is one of Jackie Gleason's earliest film roles. The film is based on the play The Night Before Christmas by Laura Perelman and S.J. Perelman. It takes place during the Christmas season with the finale occurring on Christmas Eve. This is another of those old light-hearted seasonal movies that will refresh your palate after the diet of sticky sweetness I see available on television. The cast is priceless. I watched it here.

trailer:



Sunday, December 22, 2019

Christmas Story (2008)

Christmas Story is the story of how a young orphan boy named Nikolas grew up to be Santa. I watched it on Amazon Prime dubbed in English. Told by the man the boy grew up to be, it's a touching story.

trailer:


via Daily Motion with English subtitles:


Saturday, December 21, 2019

Remember the Night (1940)

Remember the Night is a 1940 romantic comedy that takes place during the Christmas season. It stars Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray.


The NYT says, "It is a memorable film, in title and in quality, blessed with an honest script, good direction and sound performance. Perhaps this is a bit too early in the season to be talking of the best pictures of 1940; it is not too early to say that Paramount's nomination is worth considering." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics consensus rating of 100%.


Friday, December 20, 2019

Bobby Darin

Bobby Darin died on this date in 1973 at the age of 37 after a lifetime of failing health from heart problems due to rheumatic fever in childhood. It's sad to think of a life cut short, but he left us with many happy memories.

Silent Night:



Christmas Auld Lang Syne:



O Come, All Ye Faithful:



Go Tell It on the Mountain:



He is better known for his pop hit songs like Mack the Knife, sung here in the year he died:



and Dream Lover:






Thursday, December 19, 2019

The Star


The Star is a 1955 short story by Arthur C. Clarke. I remember how I felt the first time I read this. You can read it online here. It begins,
It is three thousand light years to the Vatican. Once, I believed that space could have no power over faith, just as I believed that the heavens declared the glory of God's handiwork. Now I have seen that handiwork, and my faith is sorely troubled. I stare at the crucifix that hangs on the cabin wall above the Mark VI Computer, and for the first time in my life I wonder if it is no more than an empty symbol.

I have told no one yet, but the truth cannot be concealed. The facts are there for all to read, recorded on the countless miles of magnetic tape and the thousands of photographs we are carrying back to Earth. Other scientists can interpret them as easily as I can, and I am not one who would condone that tampering with the truth which often gave my order a bad name in the olden days.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Snickerdoodle Coffee


I had a mind to make a snickerdoodle-flavored coffee, and I found this recipe to try. Making it according to the recipe was a total failure, as the mix clogged up the filter and the coffee wouldn't drip into the cup. I tried using the same measurements but substituting instant coffee for the coffee grounds and pouring boiling water over the instant mix, but that was undrinkable: too bitter and the cocoa made the coffee too thick. At this point I gave up. I'd love suggestions on how to make this into a drinkable beverage.

I moved on to trying a snickerdoodle creamer recipe. Now, I always take my coffee black, but I like having a few things around that are different. And I had snickerdoodle on the brain. As I googled my little heart out, I found many recipes that used canned evaporated milk and/or sweetened condensed milk, but I wanted a dry mix that would store easily in my counter-top basket. This one looked like a good start.

I ended up using 1/2 cup coffee creamer, 1/2 cup white sugar, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and 1/2 tsp allspice to make the jar in the photo above. I put 2 rounded spoonfuls in a cup of French press coffee. I tried it again adding vanilla extract, and I tried it with different amounts of the spices, but I didn't like that as much.

I enjoyed my snickerdoodle experiment, even if it's not something I'll use much. I'd love to find a coffee recipe that would work, as I'd drink it much more often than I'll use this creamer.



Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Holiday Affair (1949)

Holiday Affair is a 1949 romantic comedy starring Robert Mitchum (one of my favorites) and Janet Leigh. It takes place during the Christmas season. Delightful! This is perfect if the Hallmark movies make you gag but you're still wanting a sweet movie for the season. I watched it here.

trailer:



The NYT calls it "an amiable little romance". Emanuel Levy concludes, "Holiday Affair is a suitable fare for all members of the family, and a capsule of what American value system in the 1940s."

Please have a Christmas cuppa with me:


and join the T Stands for Tuesday party hosted by Bleubeard and Elizabeth.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Christmas Trees


We've recently changed from having a tall tree to decorating a table-top tree, and I'm quite happy with this choice.



I dread the un-decorating more than I enjoy the decorating, and a small tree just feels more manageable. What I've lost in height I've made up for in numbers as I add to my gradually increasing little tree accumulation.








All of those are at the front of the house. My new pride and joy is this little pink wonder:


bought already festooned with silver at a local antique mall. For $4. I'm not kidding. $4. It begged me to bring it home, and how could I refuse? It's on the kitchen counter where it's in my line of sight as I look out onto the patio.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Holiday (1930)

Holiday is a 1930 pre-code romantic comedy starring Ann Harding, Mary Astor, Hedda Hopper, and Edward Everett Horton. A young man is torn between his free-thinking lifestyle and the wealthy father of the socialite he wants to marry, and hilarity predictably ensues. Oddly enough, this happy-go-lucky free-thinker is a lawyer with a New York firm and is a successful businessman so not exactly the questionable bohemian that description might lead you to believe, but he didn't come from money and isn't a member of the top 1%.

This is a fun romantic comedy, and I enjoyed watching it even though rom-coms aren't my favorite genre.




Rotten Tomatoes has an audience score of 96%.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Instant Cinnamon and Spice Coffee


I take my coffee strong and black, but every once in a while I like to shake it up a bit and try something new. Here's my latest:

Cinnamon and Spice Coffee

  • Instant coffee 1/3 cup
  • White sugar   2/3 cup
  • Nutmeg          1/4 tsp
  • Cinnamon      1/4 tsp
  • Allspice          1/4 tsp
Mix thoroughly

Spoon as desired for strength and size of cup, pour boiling water over mix, and stir.

It's quite sweet as you can tell from the amount of sugar in the recipe, but it makes a nice treat for variety during this season.

Friday, December 13, 2019

A Message from Mars

A Message from Mars is a 1913 British science fiction film with a plot similar to Dickens' Christmas Carol story. It's only an hour long.


A Cinema History has information.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

A House to Let


A House to Let is an 1858 short story by Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Elizabeth Gaskell and Adelaide Anne Procter, their first collaboration on a Christmas story. You can read it online here and here. It begins,
I had been living at Tunbridge Wells and nowhere else, going on for ten years, when my medical man—very clever in his profession, and the prettiest player I ever saw in my life of a hand at Long Whist, which was a noble and a princely game before Short was heard of—said to me, one day, as he sat feeling my pulse on the actual sofa which my poor dear sister Jane worked before her spine came on, and laid her on a board for fifteen months at a stretch—the most upright woman that ever lived—said to me, “What we want, ma’am, is a fillip.”

“Good gracious, goodness gracious, Doctor Towers!” says I, quite startled at the man, for he was so christened himself: “don’t talk as if you were alluding to people’s names; but say what you mean.”

“I mean, my dear ma’am, that we want a little change of air and scene.”

“Bless the man!” said I; “does he mean we or me!”

“I mean you, ma’am.”

“Then Lard forgive you, Doctor Towers,” I said; “why don’t you get into a habit of expressing yourself in a straightforward manner, like a loyal subject of our gracious Queen Victoria, and a member of the Church of England?”

Towers laughed, as he generally does when he has fidgetted me into any of my impatient ways—one of my states, as I call them—and then he began,—

“Tone, ma’am, Tone, is all you require!” He appealed to Trottle, who just then came in with the coal-scuttle, looking, in his nice black suit, like an amiable man putting on coals from motives of benevolence.

Trottle (whom I always call my right hand) has been in my service two-and-thirty years. He entered my service, far away from England. He is the best of creatures, and the most respectable of men; but, opinionated.

“What you want, ma’am,” says Trottle, making up the fire in his quiet and skilful way, “is Tone.”

“Lard forgive you both!” says I, bursting out a-laughing; “I see you are in a conspiracy against me, so I suppose you must do what you like with me, and take me to London for a change.”

For some weeks Towers had hinted at London, and consequently I was prepared for him. When we had got to this point, we got on so expeditiously, that Trottle was packed off to London next day but one, to find some sort of place for me to lay my troublesome old head in.

Trottle came back to me at the Wells after two days’ absence, with accounts of a charming place that could be taken for six months certain, with liberty to renew on the same terms for another six, and which really did afford every accommodation that I wanted.

“Could you really find no fault at all in the rooms, Trottle?” I asked him.

“Not a single one, ma’am. They are exactly suitable to you. There is not a fault in them. There is but one fault outside of them.”

“And what’s that?”

“They are opposite a House to Let.”
Listen to it read to you via Librivox:

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence

Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence is a 1983 British-Japanese WW2 film about life in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. I don't care for war movies, and I don't care for this. I know I should broaden my horizons -and I try, really, I do try- but this didn't convert me.

trailer:



You can watch it online here.

The New York Times begins its review with praise of David Bowie's performance:
DAVID BOWIE plays a born leader in Nagisa Oshima's ''Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence,'' and he plays him like a born film star. Mr. Bowie's screen presence here is mercurial and arresting, and he seems to arrive at this effortlessly, though he manages to do something slyly different in every scene. The demands of his role may sometimes be improbable and elaborate, but Mr. Bowie fills them in a remarkably plain and direct way. Little else in the film is so unaffected or clear.
Slant Magazine gives it 4 1/2 out of 5 stars and begins its review with this:
A prisoner-of-war drama as fever dream, Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence fascinates mostly for the hit-and-miss alchemy of its discordant elements: in performance, pop-star charisma versus British actorliness; in narrative style, genre expectations coming up against modernist psychosexual undercurrents.
Roger Ebert gives it a mixed review and says, "This is interesting material, especially since Oshima plunges a little more deeply into the psychology of his characters than your average prisoner-of-war movie is likely to." Empire Online has a mixed review and says, "This goes interesting places most POW dramas won't dare". 80% of Rotten Tomatoes critic reviews are positive.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Reginald on Christmas Presents


Reginald on Christmas Presents is a short story by Saki. You can read it online here. It begins,
I wish it to be distinctly understood (said Reginald) that I don't want a "George, Prince of Wales" Prayer-book as a Christmas present. The fact cannot be too widely known.

There ought (he continued) to be technical education classes on the science of present-giving. No one seems to have the faintest notion of what anyone else wants, and the prevalent ideas on the subject are not creditable to a civilised community.
Please join me in a seasonal beverage (I'm having orange coffee, recipe here):


Link your own drink-related post at the weekly T Stands for Tuesday blogger party.

Monday, December 09, 2019

Sunday, December 08, 2019

The Beggar Boy at Christ's Christmas Tree

The Beggar Boy at Christ's Christmas Tree is an 1876 short story by Fyodor Dostoevsky. It reminds me of The Little Match Girl, so if you want to pass on this sad tale and find something more cheerful to read I understand completely.

You can read this story online here. It begins,
I am a novelist, and I suppose I have made up this story. I write “I suppose,” though I know for a fact that I have made it up, but yet I keep fancying that it must have happened on Christmas Eve in some great town in a time of terrible frost.

I have a vision of a boy, a little boy, six years old or even younger. This boy woke up that morning in a cold damp cellar. He was dressed in a sort of little dressing-gown and was shivering with cold. There was a cloud of white steam from his breath, and sitting on a box in the corner, he blew the steam out of his mouth and amused himself in his dullness watching it float away. But he was terribly hungry. Several times that morning he went up to the plank bed where his sick mother was lying on a mattress as thin as a pancake, with some sort of bundle under her head for a pillow. How had she come here? She must have come with her boy from some other town and suddenly fallen ill.
You can listen to it:

Saturday, December 07, 2019

Three Wishes for Cinderella

Three Wishes for Cinderella, a holiday classic in parts of Europe, is a 1973 re-telling of the Cinderella story. Absolutely delightful!

Friday, December 06, 2019

Cranberry Dream Pie


I've lowered the number of carbs I eat each day, but there's still room for the occasional splurge. When I saw this recipe I knew I wanted to give it a shot for Thanksgiving. I mixed the ingredients by hand at each stage. If I make this again, I'll use a hand mixer. I used a bought graham cracker crust.

Cranberry Dream Pie

8 oz cream cheese
1/2 c heavy cream
3/4 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
16 oz can whole berry cranberry sauce

Beat the cream cheese in a mixing bowl until fluffy. Beat in heavy cream and sugar. Blend in vanilla. Stir in the cranberry sauce. Pour into graham cracker crust pie shell and freeze.

*******

It was tasty, different from what we usually have, and it kept well.

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Amahl and the Night Visitors

Amahl and the Night Visitors
is an opera in one act by Gian Carlo Menotti with an original English libretto by the composer. It was commissioned by NBC and first performed by the NBC Opera Theatre on December 24, 1951, in New York City at NBC studio 8H in Rockefeller Center, where it was broadcast live on television from that venue as the debut production of the Hallmark Hall of Fame. It was the first opera specifically composed for television in America.
It begins:
Amahl, a disabled boy who can walk only with a crutch, has a problem with telling tall tales. He is sitting outside playing his shepherd's pipe when his mother calls for him ("Amahl! Amahl!"). After much persuasion, he enters the house but his mother does not believe him when he tells her there is an amazing star "as big as a window" outside over their roof ("O Mother You Should Go Out and See"; "Stop Bothering Me!").

Later that night, Amahl's mother weeps, praying that Amahl not become a beggar ("Don't Cry Mother Dear"). After bedtime ("From Far Away We Come"), there is a knock at the door and the mother tells Amahl to go see who it is ("Amahl ... Yes Mother!"). He is amazed when he sees three splendidly dressed kings (the Magi). At first the mother does not believe Amahl, but when she goes to the door to see for herself, she is stunned.

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Cassandra Wilson

Happy Birthday to Cassandra Wilson, jazz musician from Jackson, Mississippi, on her 64th birthday.

Caravan:



Skylark:



Fragile:



Here's a playlist from Spotify:

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Glass of Water and a Coffee Pot

Glass of Water and a Coffee Pot:


by Jean-Baptiste-Simeon Chardin, who died on December 6, 1779, at 80 years of age.

I have an early Christmas present to share today:


I had always heard that one of these stove-top "espresso" pots wouldn't work on my glass top stove, but I was wrong. This makes a fun cuppa, and a little variety truly is the spice of life.

Please join me at Bleubeard and Elizabeth's weekly T party. Share a post with a drink reference. You'll receive a warm welcome.


Monday, December 02, 2019

‘Tis the Season


‘Tis the Season is a 2010 holiday story by China MiĆ©ville. You can read it online here. It begins,
Call me childish, but I love all the nonsense - the snow, the trees, the tinsel, the turkey. I love presents. I love carols and cheesy songs. I just love Christmas™.

That's why I was so excited. And not just for me, but for Annie. Aylsa, her mum, said she didn't see the big deal and why was I a sentimentalist, but I knew Annie couldn't wait. She might have been 14, but when it came to this I was sure she was still a little girl, dreaming of stockings by the chimney. Whenever it's my turn to take Annie - me and Aylsa have alternated since the divorce - I do my best on the 25th.

I admit Aylsa made me feel bad. I was dreading Annie's disappointment. So I can hardly tell you how delighted I was when I found out that for the first time ever I was going to be able to make a proper celebration of it.

Don't get me wrong. I haven't got shares in YuleCo, and I can't afford a one-day end-user licence, so I couldn't have a legal party.
I have blog posts on these books by this author:
The City and the City (2009)
Embassytown (2011)
Railsea (2012)
I've read the Bas-Lag series but don't have blog posts on those.

Sunday, December 01, 2019

Christmas Movies


One of the pleasures of the holiday season is watching seasonal movies. I have a list here at this link, and I'd like you to check it out and see if you find anything you might want to watch. They range from 1898 to 2014 and include dramas and comedies. Some are animated. Some are shorts and some are full-length feature films. There's quite a variety, and some are available to watch online. I've included some television episodes, but I don't watch much network TV any more and am not familiar with what's currently available.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Kyoikusenga Ubasuteyama

Kyoikusenga Ubasuteyama is a 1925 Japanese animated short film about a feudal lord who hates the elderly and so decides to exile each person once they reach their 60th birthday. On the island where they are sent there is a predatory bird that eats them. One young man tries to save his mother from her fate. (click the little CC in the bottom right corner of the video for English intertitles.)

Friday, November 29, 2019

An Inspector Calls (2015)

An Inspector Calls is a 2015 TV film adaptation of the J. B. Priestly play with the same name. David Thewlis plays the Inspector.

trailer:



It got excellent reviews and is well worth watching.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Broken Lance

Broken Lance is a 1954 western starring Spencer Tracy, Robert Wagner.Jean Peters, Richard Widmark, Hugh O'Brian, Earl Holliman, and E.G. Marshall. It's a western re-make (1880s Arizona) of the 1949 Edward G. Robinson film noir House of Strangers. They are both adapted from the same novel.

You can watch it online here.

trailer:



83% of Rotten Tomatoes critic reviews were positive.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Shimmer


Shimmer is a 10-page long story by Claudette Menalson about star-crossed faerie love ruined by human contact. I went into it expecting a book-length story and was surprised when it was just over. There's really not much to this, but it's a fine enough little story. I read it at ManyBooks.net.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

They Live By Night

They Live By Night is a 1948 film noir directed by Nicholas Ray in his first feature film. Farley Granger stars.



Here's the young couple at the coffee shop:


as he looks over his shoulder at the neon "Weddings Performed" sign. I'll have a cuppa, too,


to join the T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering.

This will even count as a Christmas movie as you look for something different for the holiday season:


The leader of this little gang insists the kid join them in another bank robbery as he pokes at the ornaments the kid has just put on his and his new bride's Christmas tree.

Here's another screenshot of the tree and one of the tinsel decorating the mantle:


Depending on how non-traditional you like your Christmas movies, this one might do.

The New York Times review from the time of the film's release praises it saying,
A commonplace little story about a young escaped convict "on the lam" and his romance with a nice girl whom he picks up and marries is told with pictorial sincerity and uncommon emotional thrust ... this crime-and-compassion melodrama has the virtues of vigor and restraint.
Slant Magazine concludes, "Simultaneously tough-minded and delicate, the film is an exquisite stage-setter for Nicholas Ray’s career". Time Out closes with this: "Passionate, lyrical, and imaginative, it's a remarkably assured debut, from the astonishing opening helicopter shot that follows the escaped convicts' car to freedom, to the final, inexorably tragic climax."

Variety says, "Underneath They Live By Night is a moving, somber story of hopeless young love. There’s no attempt at sugarcoating a happy ending, and yarn moves towards its inevitable, tragic climax without compromise." Senses of Cinema says, "They Live By Night is regularly cited as the most significant progenitor of the ‘outlaw lovers on the run’ narrative. Succeeded by films as diverse as Bonnie and Clyde (Arthur Penn, 1967) and Natural Born Killers (Oliver Stone, 1994), Ray’s film remains the standard bearer for the genre."

100% of Rotten Tomatoes critics like it.

Monday, November 25, 2019

The Legacy Human


The Legacy Human is yet another book I found free online via BookBub. I read it through Google Play on my laptop, and can't be happier with having had BookBub recommended to me. I can't remember who suggested it -several sources for free books were suggested, and this is the first one I've tried- but Thanks! This is an excellent way to try new-to-me authors. This is a young adult book, which I wouldn't ordinarily read. I am so glad I read this, though, and I never would have if I hadn't found it free. I recommend it, especially if you're looking for mind-expanding reading for teens. Books suitable for that purpose aren't as common as you might think. I wish this had been available when I had teens at home.

The Legacy Human, by Susan Kaye Quinn, is first in the Singularity series. Her website says,
What would you give to live forever? Seventeen-year-old Elijah Brighton wants to become an ascender —a post-Singularity human/machine hybrid— after all, they’re smarter, more enlightened, more compassionate, and above all, achingly beautiful. But Eli is a legacy human, preserved and cherished for his unaltered genetic code, just like the rainforest he paints. When a fugue state possesses him and creates great art, Eli miraculously lands a sponsor for the creative Olympics. If he could just master the fugue, he could take the gold and win the right to ascend, bringing everything he’s yearned for within reach… including his beautiful ascender patron. But once Eli arrives at the Games, he finds the ascenders are playing games of their own. Everything he knows about the ascenders and the legacies they keep starts to unravel… until he’s running for his life and wondering who he truly is.

The Legacy Human is the first in Susan Kaye Quinn’s new young adult science fiction series that explores the intersection of mind, body, and soul in a post-Singularity world… and how technology will challenge us to remember what it means to be human.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Murder She Said (1961)

Murder She Said is a 1961 movie based on an Agatha Christie mystery novel. It stars Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple. Joan Hickson has a role in this one. They take many liberties with the plot of the book, but it's a fun film anyway.



It got good reviews, but Christie herself didn't approve of all the changes.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Night Train to Memphis

Night Train to Memphis:



sung by Roy Acuff, who was born in Tennessee and died there on this date in 1992 at the age of 89.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Nerves

Nerves is a 1919 silent German expressionist film.


Stranger on the 3rd Floor says,
Here’s what [German] Wikipedia has to say about Reinert’s depiction of a “nervous epidemic” sweeping the nation ...:

“Nerven opened in Munich in 1919. People were hospitalized after watching the movie and one woman, after seeing it, woke up one night, went out on the street in her nightshirt and screamed ‘Now I am going to die! Now I am going to die!’ About Nerven, one recent critic wrote ‘Nerven is a disorienting, highly experimental work. Released in 1919, before The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (early 1920), it might have become a prototype of German Expressionist cinema if it had been widely seen.’
Cambridge closes by saying, "Robert Reinert's largely unknown Nerven is notable for its role in recording the frenzy of illness following the First World War."

Thursday, November 21, 2019

The Rowan Tree

image from Amazon.com

Several people have suggested options for free books online, and I'm exploring what seems to me to be a wealth of choices. The Rowan Tree, by Robert W. Fuller, is available free for now on Google Play, and I'm reading it on my computer. You can read it here while it's free. I found it searching for free books in the literary fiction category at BookBub.

from RowanTreeNovel.com:
Rowan Ellway is a young college president; Easter Blue, an impassioned student leader. Upon graduation, she takes a fellowship to Africa, and they lose touch. When, decades later, they meet again, they discover that their prior bond was but a rehearsal for the world stage.

The Rowan Tree reaches from the tumultuous 1960s into humanity’s future, encompassing the worlds of politics, sport, ballet, presidential leadership, and world governance. An international cast of characters personifies the catalytic role of love in political change.

Replete with illicit loves, quixotic quests, and inextinguishable hope, The Rowan Tree foretells a dignitarian world much as the story of King Arthur and the round table sowed the seeds of democracy.
It's quite the romantic, illicit affair-driven narrative and not my cup of tea. I won't seek out more by this author.


Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Still Life

A silver bowl, a lemon, a knife, a bottle and a glass on a salver on a draped marble ledge:


by Louise De Hem, who died on November 22, 1922, at the age of 55. How did she make that lemon look like a real lemon? It looks more "real" than some photos I've taken. The skill and eye of artists are awe-inspiring as I look at paintings I come across.

Please join me in a cuppa


while I admire the art in this painting and in the posts of folks participating in the weekly T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering.

Some of you were kind enough to suggest sources for free books online, and I'd like to share one of my favorites: the University of Adelaide online books library. I also find good things at Online Literature, at the Internet Archive and at Project Gutenberg.

Monday, November 18, 2019

The Proud Rebel

The Proud Rebel is a 1958 western directed by Michael Curtiz and starring Alan Ladd and Olivia de Havilland. John Carradine, Dean Jagger, Cecil Kellaway, and Harry Dean Stanton co-star.



Variety says, "Warmth of a father's love and faith, and the devotion of a boy for his dog, are the stand- out ingredients of this suspenseful and fast-action post-Civil War yarn." TCM has information.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

The Roman Hat Mystery


The Roman Hat Mystery is the first of the Ellery Queen detective/mystery series. This writer knows his stuff. It was written in 1928 but is still easy and interesting to read. The book was a birthday present.

from the Wikipedia article:
The novel deals with the poisoning of a disreputable lawyer named Monte Field in the Roman Theater in New York City during a performance of a play called "Gunplay!" Although the play is a sold-out hit, the corpse is discovered seated surrounded by empty seats. A number of suspects whose pasts had made them potentially susceptible to blackmail are in the theater at the time, some connected with the Roman Theater and some audience members.

The case is investigated by Inspector Richard Queen of the Homicide Squad with the assistance of his son Ellery, a bibliophile and author. The principal clue in the mystery is the disappearance of the victim's top hat, and it is suspected that the hat may have contained papers with which the victim was blackmailing the murderer. A number of suspects are considered, but nothing can be proved until Ellery performs an extended piece of logical deduction based on the missing hat and thus identifies the murderer.
You can read it online here.



Saturday, November 16, 2019

Thieves' Highway

Thieves' Highway is a 1949 film noir directed by Jules Dassin and starring Richard Conte, Valentina Cortese, Lee J. Cobb, and Barbara Lawrence.

part 1:



part 2:



Slant Magazine says "Jules Dassin’s 1949 melodrama about long-haul truckers —the director’s final (and finest) film made in America before the House Un-American Committee exiled him to Europe— is ... a bleak portrait of post-WWII despair, corrupt capitalism, and idealistic disillusionment." The New York Times review from the time calls it "One of Best Melodramas of the Year". DVD Talk says it "bares some honest truths about making a living at the lower end of the entrepreneurial scale. Firebrand writer A.I. Bezzerides all but indicts the American system of business".

Rotten Tomatoes has a critics rating of 100%.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Extended Advent

I'm trying a new-to-me thing this year. One of the earliest of Advent traditions has the observance beginning on the Feast of St. Martin, which is November 11, and there was no determined, consistent practice of shortening it to four weeks until much later and never in the Orthodox tradition. I'm observing Advent beginning with the second week in November, so this past Sunday was the first week in Advent in this practice. I'll be following what this United Methodist Church page calls Restorationist Advent. Their page says, "Advent used to be a season of seven Sundays until Pope Gregory VI shortened it to four in the eleventh century."

The Advent Project is "committed to working ecumenically to restore Advent from four (4) to seven (7) weeks". They have some resources, including O Antiphons for seven weeks and candle-lighting devotions for home use. There's another service for home use here.


Yes, this made my Advent wreath useless, but I've made one with more candles, pictured above, that will serve. The color of the candles is irrelevant, except the Christ candle in the center -which I haven't added yet- should be white.

I have never found the time of preparation for Christmas to be stressful as some seem to, and I've always enjoyed a bit of the hustle and bustle that goes with this season, so my reasons for joining this movement have nothing to do with a reaction to commercialization or secular concerns. I'm interested in exploring this older tradition of a longer Advent as an end in itself, as a way of deepening my experience of Advent.

You can read another person's reasoning for this practice in this article from last year in The Atlantic. It begins, "Reclaiming the Calm of Christmas by Expanding Advent, By celebrating for nearly two months, one family basks in the season’s peacefulness, rather than its frenzy," and goes on to explain,
For the last two years my family has been observing Advent, the season when Christians celebrate Jesus’s birth and await his second coming, for three additional Sundays; instead of starting in December, we start in early November. This puts our family’s emphasis on the sense of expectation that defines Advent, and less so on the letters to Santa and mountains of presents that attend Christmas.
I'm finding an expanded Advent to be helpful in my personal devotions.




Thursday, November 14, 2019

The Little Prince


The Little Prince is a 1943 book, which I read in French back in the days when I knew some French. I have read it several times in the English translation. This book is a treasure, and I'd recommend it to anyone of any age. You can read it online here.

I've seen two of the many adaptations. The 1974 version is a musical starring Gene Wilder as the Fox. I saw it when it was first released to theaters and love it dearly even now.

Here's a trailer:



I recently watched the 2015 adaptation on Netflix. It's quite different, being an animation, but every bit as delightful.

trailer: