Thursday, January 31, 2019

Legacy of the Dead


Legacy of the Dead is the 4th book in the Detective Ian Rutledge detective series by mother/son writing team Charles Todd. I like this WW1 shell-shocked veteran, who has made his way back to a career at Scotland Yard even while continuing to battle his inner demons.

from the back of the book:
The weathered remains found on a Scottish mountainside may be those of Eleanor Gray, but the imperious Lady Maude Gray, Eleanor's mother, will have to be handled delicately. This is not the only ground that Inspector Ian Rutledge must tread carefully, for the case will soon lead him to Scotland, where many of Rutledge's ghosts rest uneasily. Bt it is an unexpected encounter that will hold the most peril. For in Scotland Rutledge will find that the young mother accused of killing Eleanor Gray is a woman to whom he owes a terrible debt. And his harrowing journey to find the truth will lead him back through the fires of his past, into secrets that still have the power to kill.
Publishers Weekly closes with this: "readers will continue to be captivated by Todd's portrait of the dangerously unraveling detective, and his equally incisive evocation of the grieving postwar world". The New York Times says, "the portraits of wives and parents grieving for their lost boys contribute a severe grace to this study of postwar Scotland as a land rich in beauty but barren of new life."

I have also read the following from this series:
#1 A Test of Wills
#2 Wings of Fire
#3 Search the Dark
#5 Watchers of Time

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Lady for a Day

Lady for a Day is a 1933 pre-code Frank Capra comedy/drama about Depression-era destitute Apple Annie, whose daughter was raised in a Spanish convent not knowing who her parents were. There are some heart-breaking moments here, but it's a well-balanced film.

You can watch it online here. Here's a trailer:



The average critics rating at Rotten Tomatoes is 100%.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Walden, a Game

image from the screenshot gallery at the WaldenGame website

I don't have a competitive bone in my body, so games and organized group activities have always been an interesting experience for me. They so often seem to have winners and losers. People have even turned children's Halloween parties into events where costumes are judged and winners announced. I've been surprised to see that the art/craft challenges on the internet sometimes have prizes for judged winners. Video games are usually no different, with most of the games I see being heavy on the competition components.

I stay on the look-out for video games that don't have contests, races, timed puzzles to solve, and ranked participants -more exploration-based and cooperative games. That's how I found Walden, a Game. From their website:
Walden, a game is an exploratory narrative and open world simulation of the life of American philosopher Henry David Thoreau during his experiment in self-reliant living at Walden Pond. The game begins in the summer of 1845 when Thoreau moved to the Pond and built his cabin there.

Players follow in his footsteps, surviving in the woods by finding food and fuel and maintaining their shelter and clothing. At the same time, players are surrounded by the beauty of the woods and the Pond, which hold a promise of a sublime life beyond these basic needs. The game follows the loose narrative of Thoreau’s first year in the woods, with each season holding its own challenges for survival and possibilities for inspiration.

The audience for the game is broad: from experimental game players to lovers of Thoreau and Transcendental literature. As such, the game offers more opportunities for reflective play than strategic challenge. The piece has a subtle narrative arc, in homage to the original text, which is not an adventure of the body pitted against nature, but of the mind and soul living in nature over the course of a New England year.
Wikipedia has an article which describes the praise the game has received.

Here's the trailer:



Smithsonian Magazine has an article, as does NPR.

I keep forgetting to play, being out of the habit of video games, but I'm thoroughly enjoying it. To be honest, I wish it were even less structured and had fewer timed activities, but nothing's perfect.

I never play a video game (or any game, for that matter), watch a movie or TV show, or read a book without having a cuppa close at hand. Today mine is coffee:


and I share it to join in the T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering hosted by Bleubeard and Elizabeth. The pansy mug is one I only use during the winter when pansies are everywhere, especially in commercial and professionally landscaped residential beds.

I even made a pecan pie, and if I cut pieces small enough I think there'll be plenty for everybody:


That's one-eighth of a pie, and I could do fine with half that much. Join me?

*******
I have a few ATCs to share today. The first few were inspired by both the Geometric Shapes challenge and the Squares theme.

For this one I used a crossword puzzle for the background -lots of squares there. I filled in one word and added a definition from a dictionary that isn't complete enough to use for its intended purpose. Then I made a ribbon crossing, where the crossing is a square.


No matter how much I played with GIMP I couldn't get the horizontal ribbon's pattern/texture to show up at all. At this point I've uninstalled GIMP and am looking into some other free and easy options. The next image was scanned but not edited.

In it, I cut out a part of a window from a magazine and tried to make an interior scene using only squares:


The picture on the wall was cut from a Christmas card. The vase was cut from a piece of newsprint and then dabbed with square-shaped watercolor touches. The flower stems were pieces of metallic edging and the flower was cut from ribbon.

Having installed Paint.net. I'll try it and see if I like it well enough or if I want to try Fotor or Photoscape. Those get good reviews, too. This next ATC is made of squares. I watercolored a base card and let it dry. Then I painted lines to make squares to cover the card. At the top left of the card I layered square pieces in diminishing sizes of  (bottom to top) a Christmas card, an index card, felt, a one-inch square of card divided into four squares with watercolors, and a square button hand-sewn on. I marked off a two-inch square with silver edging.




The button kept the card from being in focus, and I sharpened the focus in the Paint.net program. This was easy to use. So far so good.

Another "Squares" card:


is a throw-back to many a fond game of Four Square I enjoyed as an elementary school-aged child. The background was cut from a magazine, and the gray squares from another ATC background. I hadn't realized how much the wrinkles in the gray pieces would show up, but you live and learn, right? The playground ball is made from tissue paper glued to card and then to an accordion-folded piece meant to give the ball some lift.

Because it had been such a long time since I last did any coloring, I decided the Squares theme would be a good place to see if I could still color inside the lines:


I made a background with graph paper and colored squares on it with Prismacolor colored pencils. I like these pencils, but I think there may be some other tools out there that might also be fun to try. I could've gotten better coverage, I'm sure, but somehow I was done with this one.

The next ATC:


is in response to a landscape/cityscape idea I saw here. The card base is cut from a magazine. I added ribbons and elastic on the left and then added hand-sewn "windows" in white thread to the top ribbon to turn them into skyscrapers. The moon and star were in a bag of bits I have in a cabinet. The word "BLUES" came from some Memphis promotional material. I sharpened the focus in the new Paint.net program.

I did two landscapes, the first with one of those old school supply watercolor sets:


I wish I could do more with watercolors, and I'll be looking for some short Youtube tutorials sometime.

and another by cutting flowing shapes and layering them:


and then I added some "trees" to the foreground using sticks from the patio. I do not actually enter any of these challenges but just use them for inspiration. I don't like contests or competitions or awards or any of that, but who can complain that I use the challenges as personal inspiration.

I am thoroughly enjoying making these ATCs and am already thinking about how to do more. I'm saving the card images in a folder on my computer and the originals are in a notebook in trading card storage pages. Happy T Tuesday, and thank you for introducing me to this doable little art form.



Monday, January 28, 2019

Card Trick


Card Trick is a 1961 science fiction short story about mind-reading and telekinesis and poker by John Berryman (alias Walter Bupp). You can read it online here. It begins,
The game was stud. There were seven at the table, which makes for good poker. Outside of Nick, who banked the game, nobody looked familiar. They all had the beat look of compulsive gamblers, fogged over by their individual attempts at a poker face. They were a cagey-looking lot. Only one of them was within ten years of my age.

"Just in case, gamblers," the young one said. I looked up from stacking the chips I had just bought from Nick. The speaker was a skinny little guy with a sharp chin and more freckles than I'd like to have.

"If any one of you guys has any psi powers," the sharp-chinned gambler said sourly, "you better beat it. All gamblers here will recoup double their losses from any snake we catch using psi powers to beat the odds."

He shot a hard eyed look around a room not yet dimmed by cigar smoke. I got the most baleful glare, I thought. He didn't need to worry. I'd been certified Normal by an expert that very evening.

The expert was Dr. Shari King, whom I had taken to dinner before joining the game at Nick's. It had gotten to be a sort of weekly date —although this night had given signs of being the last one. For a while that spring, deoxyribonucleic acid had begun to take second place in my heart. This is a pitiful admission for a biochemist to make —DNA should be the cornerstone of his life. But Shari was something rare —a gorgeous woman, if somewhat distant, who was thoroughly intelligent. She had already earned her doctorate, while I was still struggling with the tag ends of my thesis.

"Poker, Tex?" Shari had asked, when the waitress was bringing dessert. "Is this becoming a problem? You've played every night this week."

"No problem, Shari," I said. "I'm winning, and I see no point in not pocketing all that found money."

"Compulsive gambling is a sickness," she said, looking at me thoughtfully. She was wearing a shirtwaist and skirt that had the bright colors and fullness you associate with peasant dress.

"The only sick thing about me is my bank account," I grinned, relishing her dark, romantic quality. "I need the dough, Shari. I've got a thesis to finish if I ever want to get a job teaching."

Her thick eyebrows fluttered upward, a danger signal I had learned to look for. "That's a childish rationalization, Tex," she said with a lot more sharpness than I had expected. "There are certainly other ways to get money!"

"So I'm not as smart as you," I told her.

"Smart?" She didn't think I was tracking.

"I wasn't as shrewd as you were in picking my parents," I said. "Mine never had much, and left me less than that when they died."

She threw her spoon to the table. "I'll remind you of how silly these remarks sound, after you've hit a losing streak," she told me.

I laughed at that one. "I don't lose, Shari," I said. "And I don't intend to."

Her lashes veiled her violet eyes as she smiled and said more quietly, "Then you are in even worse trouble than I thought....

Sunday, January 27, 2019

My Name Is Julia Ross

My Name Is Julia Ross is a 1945 gothic film noir about a woman desperately seeking employment who is taken advantage of. It stars Nina Foch, Dame May Whitty, and George Macready. At only about an hour in length you can't go wrong spending the time with this.


Slant Magazine says, "[Director] Lewis gets you rooting quickly and fiercely for Foch, who is just amazing here." Rotten Tomatoes has an average critics rating of 100%.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

In Winter


In Winter is a 2004 poem by Michael Ryan. You can read it here. It begins
At four o’clock it’s dark.
Today, looking out through dusk
...
Have it read to you here:



I don't like poetry except for novelty rhymes like limericks and Little Willy verses, and I've decided that this year I'll try to read a bit of poetry and see if I can develop a taste for it. We'll see. It's just never been something I enjoyed.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Blade on the Feather

Blade on the Feather is a 1980 television drama directed by Dennis Potter and starring Donald Pleasence. It's a political thriller, which isn't a genre I favor, but how can you not watch Donald Pleasence given the opportunity?



The New York Times says,
This is pretty strong stuff, of course, but England seems preoccupied in recent years with stories of treason and treachery. In any event, most British television critics were enthusiastic in praising ''Blade on the Feather,'' and with good reason. The intriguing script has been given a marvelous production, with one of those perfect casts the British seem to conjure up so easily and enviably.
NPR describes it as "a psychological chess game about espionage".

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Runaway


Runaway is a 2003 short story by Alice Munro about a woman in an abusive marriage. You can read it online here. It begins,
Carla heard the car coming before it topped the little rise in the road that around here they called a hill. It’s her, she thought. Mrs. Jamieson—Sylvia—home from her holiday in Greece. From the barn door—but far enough inside that she could not easily be seen—she watched the road where Mrs. Jamieson would have to drive by, her place being half a mile farther along than Clark and Carla’s.

If it was somebody coming to see them, the car would be slowing down by now. But still Carla hoped. Let it not be her.

It was.
ThoughtCo has a detailed summary.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Nosferatu: A Symphony Of Horrors

Nosferatu: A Symphony Of Horrors is a 1922 German Expressionist horror movie, a take on the vampire story. It's directed by F. W. Murnau and stars Max Schreck. from Wikipedia:
Stoker's heirs sued over the adaptation, and a court ruling ordered that all copies of the film be destroyed. However, a few prints of Nosferatu survived, and the film came to be regarded as an influential masterpiece of cinema.
This movie is a must-see if you're at all interested in horror or vampire films.

via Youtube:



HorrorNews.net calls it "one of the greatest horror films of all time" Time Out gives it 5 out of 5 stars and says, "may not be the world’s first horror flick ... but it’s the most influential." Empire Online gives it 5 out of 5 stars and concludes, "they certainly don't make movies like this faded, haunting masterpiece of silent cinema any more".

DVD Journal has the history of the film's inspiration, making, and unlikely survival. Roger Ebert has it on his list of Great Movies. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 97%.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Acqua Alta by Donna Leon


Acqua Alta is the 5th Commissario Guido Brunetti detective novel by Donna Leon. I'm reading these books as I can, filling in with ones I've missed as I get them. This one was a Christmas present. I enjoy the Venetian setting, the delightful characters and the plots that incorporate elements of the society/food/culture of Venice.

from the back of the book:
As Venice braces for the onslaught of a winter tempest and acqua alta -the rising waters from exceptionally high tides- Commissario Guido Brunetti is pulled from his warm bed to find that an old friend, Dotoressa Brett Lynch, has been savagely beaten in the palazzo home she shares with Flavia Petrelli, the reigning diva of La Scala. Brunetti suspects that this is not a simple crime, and then, as the flood waters rise, a corpse is discovered. Acqua Alta, sinister annd exotic, is "every fan's first pick Brunetti novel" (The New Yorker).
I offer these quotes as my connection to the T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering (at which you are most welcome -just share a post with a drink reference):
Because it was after two when Brunetti got home that night, he slept until well past eight the next morning and woke only, and grudgingly, when Paola shook him lightly by the shoulder and told him coffee was beside him. He managed to fight off full consciousness for another few minutes, but then he smelled the coffee, gave up and seized the day.
*******
Everywhere, he saw the same things he'd been seeing for days, but today he chose to call them signs of spring. Even the omnipresent pastel tourists lifted his heart. Via XXII Marzo pulled his steps down towards the Accademia Bridge. On the other side of it, he saw the season's first long line of tourists waiting to enter the museum, but he had seen enough of art for a while. The water drew him now and the thought of sitting in the young sun with Flavia, having a coffee, talking of this and that, seeing the way her face went so quickly from ease to joy and back again.
*******

Publishers Weekly concludes, "Intricate and intimate descriptions of Venetian life fill these pages and prove that Leon has once again created a high-stakes mystery in which the setting vibrates with as much life as the story itself." Kirkus Reviews calls it "routine" for the series.  Grove Atlantic has a plot description, quotes from reviews, a short excerpt, and a reading group guide.

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

When that Great Winter Storm moved through over the week-end and folks were sharing their snow wonderland photos it snowed here in Memphis, too! Yes, indeed, we saw a few flakes and got accumulations of up to, oh, I don't know... what do you think?



Not measurable, but visible, barely. By Sunday morning all that was left was a bit on the garage roof:


We enjoyed it while it lasted. You have to find joy where you can, after all.

On Sunday night we had the Full Blood Wolf Moon total eclipse, and although all I have is a cell phone I tried to take a few photos:


It was stunning in person, and we could even see stars. We were excited to have clear skies for the event.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World is a 2003 film based on three of the novels in author Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey–Maturin series. It stars Russell Crowe and Paul Bettany and is directed by Peter Weir. The film takes place at sea during the Napoleonic War. I thoroughly enjoyed this.

trailer:


The New York Times calls it a "stupendously entertaining movie". The Guardian concludes, "Weir constructs a thrilling, forthright adventure, and the realer-than-real battle effects are simply breathtaking." Rolling Stone gives it 3.5 out of 4 stars and closes by saying, "A babe-free [there are no female cast members], big-budget film ($135 million) that takes the high road is always a risk. But Master and Commander rides that road to glory."

Roger Ebert gives it 4 out of 4 stars and describes it as:
an exuberant sea adventure told with uncommon intelligence; we're reminded of well-crafted classics before the soulless age of computerized action. Based on the beloved novels of Patrick O'Brian, it re-creates the world of the British navy circa 1805 with such detail and intensity that the sea battles become stages for personality and character. They're not simply swashbuckling -- although they're that, too, with brutal and intimate violence.
Rotten Tomatoes has an average critics rating of 85%.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? is a 1966 short story by Joyce Carol Oates. Wikipedia says It was inspired by three Tucson, Arizona murders. She dedicated the story to Bob Dylan because she wrote it after listening to his song "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue". The story can be read online here. It begins,
Her name was Connie. She was fifteen and she had a quick, nervous giggling habit of craning her neck to glance into mirrors or checking other people’s faces to make sure her own was all right. Her mother, who noticed everything and knew everything and who hadn’t much reason any longer to look at her own face, always scolded Connie about it. “Stop gawking at yourself. Who are you? You think you’re so pretty?” she would say. Connie would raise her eyebrows at these familiar old complaints and look right through her mother, into a shadowy vision of herself as she was right at that moment: she knew she was pretty and that was everything. Her mother had been pretty once too, if you could believe those old snapshots in the album, but now her looks were gone and that was why she was always after Connie.

“Why don’t you keep your room clean like your sister? How’ve you got your hair fixed—what the hell stinks? Hair spray? You don’t see your sister using that junk.”

Her sister June was twenty-four and still lived at home. She was a secretary in the high school Connie attended, and if that wasn’t bad enough—with her in the same building—she was so plain and chunky and steady that Connie had to hear her praised all the time by her mother and her mother’s sisters. June did this, June did that, she saved money and helped clean the house and cookedand Connie couldn’t do a thing, her mind was all filled with trashy daydreams.

It's All Over Now, Baby Blue:


Saturday, January 19, 2019

Polish Films

Polish Films I have blog posts on:

1930s:

The Dybbuk (1937)

1950s:

Ashes and Diamonds (1958)

1960s:

Przekładaniec (1968)

1980s:

On the Silver Globe (1987)

1990s:

The Double Life of Véronique (1991)

2000s:

Crime and Punishment (2000)
Dead Man's Bounty (2006)

Friday, January 18, 2019

Orochi

Orochi is a silent 1925 Japanese film. From Wikipedia:
The film tells the story of a samurai who falls on hard times due to misunderstandings and explains the plots of his enemies. Such explanations superbly depict the absurdity of the samurai's unjust world, making this work pertinent even today.


There's information on the film and its historical significance here at A Cinema History.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Young Goodman Brown

Young Goodman Brown is an 1835 Nathaniel Hawthorne short story. You can read it online here or here or here. It begins,
Young Goodman Brown came forth at sunset into the street at Salem village; but put his head back, after crossing the threshold, to exchange a parting kiss with his young wife. And Faith, as the wife was aptly named, thrust her own pretty head into the street, letting the wind play with the pink ribbons of her cap while she called to Goodman Brown.

"Dearest heart," whispered she, softly and rather sadly, when her lips were close to his ear, "prithee put off your journey until sunrise and sleep in your own bed to-night. A lone woman is troubled with such dreams and such thoughts that she's afeard of herself sometimes. Pray tarry with me this night, dear husband, of all nights in the year."

"My love and my Faith," replied young Goodman Brown, "of all nights in the year, this one night must I tarry away from thee. My journey, as thou callest it, forth and back again, must needs be done 'twixt now and sunrise. What, my sweet, pretty wife, dost thou doubt me already, and we but three months married?"

"Then God bless youe!" said Faith, with the pink ribbons; "and may you find all well whn you come back."

"Amen!" cried Goodman Brown. "Say thy prayers, dear Faith, and go to bed at dusk, and no harm will come to thee."

So they parted; and the young man pursued his way until, being about to turn the corner by the meeting-house, he looked back and saw the head of Faith still peeping after him with a melancholy air, in spite of her pink ribbons.

"Poor little Faith!" thought he, for his heart smote him. "What a wretch am I to leave her on such an errand! She talks of dreams, too. Methought as she spoke there was trouble in her face, as if a dream had warned her what work is to be done tonight. But no, no; 't would kill her to think it. Well, she's a blessed angel on earth; and after this one night I'll cling to her skirts and follow her to heaven."

With this excellent resolve for the future, Goodman Brown felt himself justified in making more haste on his present evil purpose.
You can listen to it here:



It was adapted as a short film in 1972, but I don't see that online. This 2015 music video is based on the story:


Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Alice in Wonderland (1903)

Alice in Wonderland (1903) is a silent short, the first film adaptation of the Lewis Carroll fantasy novel. The only known print of this is incomplete but still surprisingly faithful. It's known for its impressive special effects.

via Youtube:


I have other posts of fantasy and science fiction movies, some of which can be viewed online, linked here. I'm always interested in suggestions for more to watch.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The Artist’s Wife in the Gazebo

The Artist’s Wife in the Gazebo:


by Gerhard Munthe, who died on this date in 1929. I'm linking this post to the T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering, where you're welcome to join us with any post that includes a drink. (See the water pitcher and glass in the painting above?)

This past week I made an ATC to go along with the Cold and Frosty theme at Moo-Mania:


I got out everything I had in the cold/frosty colors and picked out a few items to use. I was interested in trying to layer some things and wondering how well glue would work on different surfaces. The answer is "not well," which won't surprise any of you, but I'm not used to gluing anything except paper to other papers. I tried glue stick and Elmer's (glue-all, I think? I don't remember) in turn, but nothing wanted to stick to the felt background or to the aluminum foil, and I finally took a couple of hand stitches to attach that little bit of blue fluff at the bottom right corner. I'm pressing it under a heavy book to see if that'll set the pieces in place. We'll see.

I made an ATC with Geometric Shapes, using the same cold and frosty colors:


mainly to practice using hand stitches to attach the buttons to the card. Baby Steps. As I go through this process I'm also trying to learn to use a photo editor called GIMP. Harder than it oughta be.

My beginner efforts are a lot of fun, and I'm trying to keep things simple to decrease the pressure while I learn how to open up to this new activity.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Behind Green Lights

Behind Green Lights is a 1946 film noir starring Carle Landis, who committed suicide two years later. It also stars John Ireland. This is just an hour long, so if you like film noir how can you go wrong?


TCM has some information.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Fascination

original poster image from Wikipedia

Fascination is a 1979 French horror movie about women who begin drinking ox blood as a doctor-recommended therapy for anemia and who graduate to human blood and orgies from there. A type of vampire film, this one is slow getting started but more interesting the further into it you get. There's much nudity, just so you know.

You can watch a trailer with English subtitles at Youtube.

Moria says,
Jean Rollin’s films are a strange mixture of artiness and horror. His earlier films in particular are works of artily surreal effect, although his later work becomes much more traditional in matters such as plot. Rollin has also delved into the erotic/pornographic genre ... almost as much as he has horror. Frequently, horror and erotica blend into one in Rollin’s work. Fascination is one such case
HorrorNews.net opens its review with, "This film is a beautiful piece of genius sexploitation as only director Jean Rollin can deliver," "There is a something very Edgar Allen Poe about “Fascination.” By Poe I mean “The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether," discusses the issues of power between the sexes in the film, and concludes, "The film intrigues you with its strangeness and keeps you interested by presenting you the possibility of one story line and then it takes its clothes off and teases you in a totally different direction."



Friday, January 11, 2019

Regret

Regret is a short story by Kate Chopin. You can read it online here or here. It begins,
MAMZELLE AURLIE possessed a good strong figure, ruddy cheeks, hair that was changing from brown to gray, and a determined eye. She wore a man's hat about the farm, and an old blue army overcoat when it was cold, and sometimes top-boots.

Mamzelle Aurlie had never thought of marrying. She had never been in love. At the age of twenty she had received a proposal, which she had promptly declined, and at the age of fifty she had not yet lived to regret it.
You can listen to it here:

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Meek's Cutoff

Meek's Cutoff is a 2010 western based on an actual historical incident. Wagons going West are led by a guide who may not know where he is going. This is not your typical western film and the story isn't told in traditional western film style. It's worth watching, especially if you're interested in the period.

trailer:



Roger Ebert's site gives it 3 1/2 out of 4 stars and says,
The distinctive thing here is the subservience of the characters to the landscape. These pioneers do not stand astride the land, they wander it in misery and exhaustion. The wheels of their wagons are little match for the terrain. There is a heartbreaking accident. The peeps of the caged bird become a mocking reminder of the domesticity they've left behind.

"Meek's Cutoff" is more an experience than a story.
History.net concludes, "Meek’s Cutoff packs enough vision to trigger philosophical thoughts and make anyone glad the transcontinental railroad came along two decades later." Empire Online gives it 4 out of 5 stars and calls it "a slow burn that will richly reward the patient." 86% of Rotten Tomatoes critics gave it a positive review.

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

The Rodeo Murder


The Rodeo Murder is a 1960 Rex Stout Nero Wolfe novella. A roping contestant misses his rope and finds it wrapped around a party guest's throat. The suspects are many. This one seems a bit more talky than some, though maybe that was just my mood.

This story ends in January.

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Figure at a Table

Figure at a Table:


by Anne Redpath, who died on January 7, 1965.  In this 30-minute documentary:



Actor and writer Michael Palin travels to the French Riviera in search of the Mediterranean view on his wall captured by his favourite artist- Scottish painter Anne Redpath. His journey takes him from a London bank to Edinburgh -via a millionaire's chateau in Cap Ferrat and a Carthusian monastery.
I'm linking this post at the T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering, where you'd be welcome to join us by sharing a post with a drink in it.

In this new year I'm trying to participate in some kind of regular art activity and thought I'd share my efforts on Tuesdays since most of the T Tuesday people are creative and artistic and might have some reflections on my beginning attempts. I've subscribed to a Youtube channel that offers a "Pick A Stick Challenge" -this is their January challenge:


This is my interpretation:


Because the color is white it's hard to see, but I placed a toothpick under this grimy bit of paper napkin. Then I tore a piece left over from making the ATC base card and glued it diagonally across the top. I'll be learning a new vocabulary, I can tell that already, because I had to look up what "reduction" meant in an artistic sense. I'm still not clear on that.

I thought I'd try the Geometric Shapes prompt at Art Journal Journey  and using a 5x8 index card as a base I created a soccer field:


Moo-Mania had a fish theme, and I made this Gone Fishin' ATC to go along with that one:


I cut out a section of a magazine photo for the background. The sun is made from a scrap of yellow index card, the fish is cut from an empty tissue box, the fishing pole is the end of a toothpick, and the fishing line is yellow thread.

I like the low-key nature of these challenges, and I look forward to stepping out of my comfort zone during the coming year.


Monday, January 07, 2019

Once Upon a Time in the West

Once Upon a Time in the West is a 1968 spaghetti western directed by Sergio Leone and starring Henry Fonda, Jason Robards, Charles Bronson, Keenan Wynn, Woody Strode, Jack Elam, and Claudia Cardinale (the last surviving cast member). My one complaint is the length -this is just too long.


The New York Times says, "Granting the fact that it is quite bad, "Once Upon the Time in the West" is almost always interesting". Slant Magazine gives it 4 out of 4 stars and says, "Sergio Leone made a fistful of great films, but none better than 1968’s ode to the fading American frontier, Once Upon a Time in the West."

Roger Ebert opens with this:
Sergio Leone's "Once Upon a Time in the West" is a painstaking distillation of the style he made famous in the original three Clint Eastwood Westerns. There's the same eerie music; the same sweaty, ugly faces; the same rhythm of waiting and violence; the same attention to small details of Western life. There is also, unfortunately, Leone's inability to call it quits.
Empire Online concludes, "Nobody has made a better Western since. In fact, nobody has made a better Western, period." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 98%.

Sunday, January 06, 2019

Happy Epiphany!

The Adoration of the Magi (1441-1493):


by Jacopo del Sellaio tempera on wood panel. It was a gift to the Memphis Brooks Museum by the Kress Foundation.

Epiphany is celebrated on January 6th. The last of our Christmas decorations came down last night on Epiphany Eve, which is Twelfth Night, the night of the last of the Twelve Days of Christmas. If you thought Christmas Day was the end of the Christmas season, you need to re-think that.

Saturday, January 05, 2019

The Snow Queen (1957)

The Snow Queen is a 1957 Soviet film adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen story. You can read the story in English translation online here, here, and here.

via Youtube:


The NYT has a review of the 1960 American theatrical release. Rotten Tomatoes has an audience score of 81%.

Friday, January 04, 2019

Tiny Hands

We Don't Want Your Tiny Hands, Anywhere Near Our Underpants



by Fiona Apple. This protest song/chant was written in support of the 2017 Women's March. As we begin this new year I'm thinking we need more protest songs.

Thursday, January 03, 2019

The House by the Cemetery

The House by the Cemetery is a 1981 Italian horror film directed by Lucio Fulci. I can't recommend it. It's bizarrely ruined by the music if nothing else. Perhaps the worst score I remember made it all but unwatchable for me. And if you can get past that, you have to try to make sense of the plot.

via Youtube:



Slant Magazine
has a 3.5 out of 5 rating, calls it "Prime real estate for the horror film aficionado," and says it has "the capacity to burrow under your skin and plumb deep into your unconscious." Classic-Horror.com calls it "horror exploitation at its best". Horror Freak News has a positive review. Horrorpedia has a thorough plot description. Rotten Tomatoes has an audience rating of 49%.

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

National Science Fiction Day

Today is National Science Fiction Day, the date chosen because it is the anniversary of the birth of Isaac Asimov. In honor of the day, I'd like to highlight Slaughterhouse-Five, a 1972 film and the first winner of the Saturn Awards. It is based on the 1969 book Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death by Kurt Vonnegut. The book doesn't seem to get much attention now, but when it was released and during some years afterwards it was frequently referred to and discussed. I still feel a special connection when I say, "And so it goes" and the other person knows the quote. Another striking quote: "All moments, past, present and future, always have existed, always will exist." Relevant even today, I'd highly recommend the book if you haven't read it, and then the movie if you liked the book.

film trailer:



One last quote from the book:
America is the wealthiest nation on Earth, but its people are mainly poor, and poor Americans are urged to hate themselves. To quote the American humorist Kin Hubbard, 'It ain’t no disgrace to be poor, but it might as well be.' It is in fact a crime for an American to be poor, even though America is a nation of poor. Every other nation has folk traditions of men who were poor but extremely wise and virtuous, and therefore more estimable than anyone with power and gold. No such tales are told by the American poor. They mock themselves and glorify their betters. The meanest eating or drinking establishment, owned by a man who is himself poor, is very likely to have a sign on its wall asking this cruel question: 'if you’re so smart, why ain’t you rich?' There will also be an American flag no larger than a child’s hand – glued to a lollipop stick and flying from the cash register.

Americans, like human beings everywhere, believe many things that are obviously untrue. Their most destructive untruth is that it is very easy for any American to make money. They will not acknowledge how in fact hard money is to come by, and, therefore, those who have no money blame and blame and blame themselves. This inward blame has been a treasure for the rich and powerful, who have had to do less for their poor, publicly and privately, than any other ruling class since, say Napoleonic times. Many novelties have come from America. The most startling of these, a thing without precedent, is a mass of undignified poor. They do not love one another because they do not love themselves.
The actions of some of the characters in the book (and film) are so strikingly like the actions of the neo-Nazi white supremacist Trump supporters that I sometimes wonder if it wasn't Vonnegut who had become unstuck in time. You'd think we'd learn. And yet, here we are.

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Tabletop Still Life with Mince Pie and Basket of Grapes

Tabletop Still Life with Mince Pie and Basket of Grapes:


is a 1625 painting by Pieter Claesz, who died on this date in 1660. Doesn't that look like a plentiful feast?! This one-hour lecture "Food for Thought: Pieter Claesz and Dutch Still Life" is from the Yale University Art Gallery:



Happy New Year! We are homebodies and stayed in yesterday, toasting in the New Year at midnight with our traditional lime sherbet and ginger ale (which is a carbonated soft drink, not an ale, and not the same as ginger beer). We used to drink this to celebrate the ringing in of the New Year when I was a child, but these days I am the only one drinking it as The Husband doesn't like it. More for me! He drinks a spiced cider instead, which is a festive regular for us at this time of year. Here's my drink from last night:


Today we're having ham and black-eyed peas, which is as close as we get to the traditional hog's jowl meal. I grew up eating some kind of pork or ham with black-eyed peas to ensure health and prosperity during the new year. It was "good luck" I was told, but I eat it for the family memories. That, and I like black-eyed peas.


From Wikipedia:
A Southern US tradition of eating black-eyed peas and greens with either pork jowls or fatback on New Year's Day to ensure prosperity throughout the new year goes back hundreds of years.
I'm linking this post at the weekly T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering. Please join us. You'll find a warm welcome there.

And, again, Happy New Year, and may it be filled with health and peace for us all!