Thursday, February 28, 2019

The Daughters of the Moon

photo from Wikipedia

The Daughters of the Moon is a 1968 short story by Italo Calvino. In it, the narrator describes the effect of a dying and crumbling moon on an Earth-like planet. You can read it online here. It begins,
The moon is old, Qfwfq agreed, pitted with holes, worn out. Rolling naked through the skies, it erodes and loses its flesh like a bone that’s been gnawed. This is not the first time that such a thing has happened. I remember moons that were even older and more battered than this one; I’ve seen loads of these moons, seen them being born and running across the sky and dying out, one punctured by hail from shooting stars, another exploding from all its craters, and yet another oozing drops of topaz-colored sweat that evaporated immediately, then being covered by greenish clouds and reduced to a dried-up, spongy shell.

What happens on the earth when a moon dies is not easy to describe; I’ll try to do it by referring to the last instance I can remember.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

The Public Voice

The Public Voice is a 1988 Danish short film (11 minutes). This is a fascinating film with an intriguing sound track.

Apocalypse Later Films has a positive review.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019


Clay is a 1914 short story by James Joyce. You can read it online here. It begins,
The matron had given her leave to go out as soon as the women's tea was over and Maria looked forward to her evening out. The kitchen was spick and span: the cook said you could see yourself in the big copper boilers. The fire was nice and bright and on one of the side-tables were four very big barmbracks. These barmbracks seemed uncut; but if you went closer you would see that they had been cut into long thick even slices and were ready to be handed round at tea. Maria had cut them herself.

Maria was a very, very small person indeed but she had a very long nose and a very long chin. She talked a little through her nose, always soothingly: "Yes, my dear," and "No, my dear." She was always sent for when the women quarrelled over their tubs and always succeeded in making peace. One day the matron had said to her:

"Maria, you are a veritable peace-maker!"

And the sub-matron and two of the Board ladies had heard the compliment. And Ginger Mooney was always saying what she wouldn't do to the dummy who had charge of the irons if it wasn't for Maria. Everyone was so fond of Maria.

The women would have their tea at six o'clock and she would be able to get away before seven. From Ballsbridge to the Pillar, twenty minutes; from the Pillar to Drumcondra, twenty minutes; and twenty minutes to buy the things. She would be there before eight. She took out her purse with the silver clasps and read again the words A Present from Belfast. She was very fond of that purse because Joe had brought it to her five years before when he and Alphy had gone to Belfast on a Whit-Monday trip. In the purse were two half-crowns and some coppers. She would have five shillings clear after paying tram fare. What a nice evening they would have, all the children singing!
The mention of the "women's tea" in the first line of this story is my beverage connection for the T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering. Please join us and our gracious hosts Bleubeard and Elizabeth.

Some recent ATCs:

I used a shaped card for this one:

and tried making a window frame here, though the white frame doesn't show up around the edge:

The Alphabet Challenge Blog did "W is for Wings" earlier this month, but ya know when I saw "W" I was off into the land of Western movies in my mind and couldn't rein in those runaway horses. Westerns it is, but I won't tell them if you don't. Inspiration is where you find it.

I shaded the frame on this one.

For this next one I tried a resist technique using petroleum jelly and acrylic paint:

I used a base card I received as part of a swap.

This one:

was inspired by a Flight prompt I saw somewhere.

This one was inspired by a Climb prompt:

and this one by a Love prompt:


from the same list of prompts.

And Morph:

Monday, February 25, 2019

Treasure Island

Treasure Island is an 1883 book by Robert Louis Stevenson. An exciting adventure tale, it has held up well for modern readers.

from the back of the book:
When Jim Hawkins picks up the oilskin packet from Captain Flint's sea chest, he has no idea that here lies the key to untold wealth -a treasure map. He sails on the Hispaniola as cabin-boy, with the awesome Long John Silver as ship's cook and the rest of the shifty crew, and embarks on an extraordinary and dangerous quest to find the buried treasure.
You can read it online here or here. It begins,
Squire Trelawney, Dr. Livesey, and the rest of these gentlemen having asked me to write down the whole particulars about Treasure Island, from the beginning to the end, keeping nothing back but the bearings of the island, and that only because there is still treasure not yet lifted, I take up my pen in the year of grace 17__ and go back to the time when my father kept the Admiral Benbow inn and the brown old seaman with the sabre cut first took up his lodging under our roof.

I remember him as if it were yesterday, as he came plodding to the inn door, his sea-chest following behind him in a hand-barrow—a tall, strong, heavy, nut-brown man, his tarry pigtail falling over the shoulder of his soiled blue coat, his hands ragged and scarred, with black, broken nails, and the sabre cut across one cheek, a dirty, livid white. I remember him looking round the cover and whistling to himself as he did so, and then breaking out in that old sea-song that he sang so often afterwards:

“Fifteen men on the dead man's chest—
Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!”

in the high, old tottering voice that seemed to have been tuned and broken at the capstan bars. Then he rapped on the door with a bit of stick like a handspike that he carried, and when my father appeared, called roughly for a glass of rum. This, when it was brought to him, he drank slowly, like a connoisseur, lingering on the taste and still looking about him at the cliffs and up at our signboard.

“This is a handy cove,” says he at length; “and a pleasant sittyated grog-shop. Much company, mate?”

My father told him no, very little company, the more was the pity.

“Well, then,” said he, “this is the berth for me. Here you, matey,” he cried to the man who trundled the barrow; “bring up alongside and help up my chest. I'll stay here a bit,” he continued. “I'm a plain man; rum and bacon and eggs is what I want, and that head up there for to watch ships off. What you mought call me? You mought call me captain. Oh, I see what you're at—there”; and he threw down three or four gold pieces on the threshold. “You can tell me when I've worked through that,” says he, looking as fierce as a commander.

And indeed bad as his clothes were and coarsely as he spoke, he had none of the appearance of a man who sailed before the mast, but seemed like a mate or skipper accustomed to be obeyed or to strike. The man who came with the barrow told us the mail had set him down the morning before at the Royal George, that he had inquired what inns there were along the coast, and hearing ours well spoken of, I suppose, and described as lonely, had chosen it from the others for his place of residence. And that was all we could learn of our guest.

He was a very silent man by custom. All day he hung round the cove or upon the cliffs with a brass telescope; all evening he sat in a corner of the parlour next the fire and drank rum and water very strong. Mostly he would not speak when spoken to, only look up sudden and fierce and blow through his nose like a fog-horn; and we and the people who came about our house soon learned to let him be. Every day when he came back from his stroll he would ask if any seafaring men had gone by along the road. At first we thought it was the want of company of his own kind that made him ask this question, but at last we began to see he was desirous to avoid them. When a seaman did put up at the Admiral Benbow (as now and then some did, making by the coast road for Bristol) he would look in at him through the curtained door before he entered the parlour; and he was always sure to be as silent as a mouse when any such was present. For me, at least, there was no secret about the matter, for I was, in a way, a sharer in his alarms. He had taken me aside one day and promised me a silver fourpenny on the first of every month if I would only keep my “weather-eye open for a seafaring man with one leg” and let him know the moment he appeared. Often enough when the first of the month came round and I applied to him for my wage, he would only blow through his nose at me and stare me down, but before the week was out he was sure to think better of it, bring me my four-penny piece, and repeat his orders to look out for “the seafaring man with one leg.”

How that personage haunted my dreams, I need scarcely tell you. On stormy nights, when the wind shook the four corners of the house and the surf roared along the cove and up the cliffs, I would see him in a thousand forms, and with a thousand diabolical expressions. Now the leg would be cut off at the knee, now at the hip; now he was a monstrous kind of a creature who had never had but the one leg, and that in the middle of his body. To see him leap and run and pursue me over hedge and ditch was the worst of nightmares. And altogether I paid pretty dear for my monthly fourpenny piece, in the shape of these abominable fancies.

But though I was so terrified by the idea of the seafaring man with one leg, I was far less afraid of the captain himself than anybody else who knew him. There were nights when he took a deal more rum and water than his head would carry; and then he would sometimes sit and sing his wicked, old, wild sea-songs, minding nobody; but sometimes he would call for glasses round and force all the trembling company to listen to his stories or bear a chorus to his singing. Often I have heard the house shaking with “Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum,” all the neighbours joining in for dear life, with the fear of death upon them, and each singing louder than the other to avoid remark. For in these fits he was the most overriding companion ever known; he would slap his hand on the table for silence all round; he would fly up in a passion of anger at a question, or sometimes because none was put, and so he judged the company was not following his story. Nor would he allow anyone to leave the inn till he had drunk himself sleepy and reeled off to bed.

His stories were what frightened people worst of all. Dreadful stories they were—about hanging, and walking the plank, and storms at sea, and the Dry Tortugas, and wild deeds and places on the Spanish Main. By his own account he must have lived his life among some of the wickedest men that God ever allowed upon the sea, and the language in which he told these stories shocked our plain country people almost as much as the crimes that he described. My father was always saying the inn would be ruined, for people would soon cease coming there to be tyrannized over and put down, and sent shivering to their beds; but I really believe his presence did us good. People were frightened at the time, but on looking back they rather liked it; it was a fine excitement in a quiet country life, and there was even a party of the younger men who pretended to admire him, calling him a “true sea-dog” and a “real old salt” and such like names, and saying there was the sort of man that made England terrible at sea.
Librivox will read it to you:

It has been adapted many times, but none are truly faithful. This 1934 version:

was the first sound film adaptation and stars Wallace Beery, Jackie Cooper, Lionel Barrymore, Lewis Stone, and Nigel Bruce. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics rating of 100%, but don't expect to see faithfulness to the book.

Sunday, February 24, 2019


Pyaasa is a 1957 Indian film about a poor poet trying to make his way in post-Independence India.

Let's Talk About Bollywood has a positive review. The Hindu calls it "Guru Dutt’s masterpiece and undoubtedly one of the Indian cinema’s greatest films." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics rating of 100%.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

The Library of Babel

The Library of Babel is a 1941 short story by Jorge Luis Borges. It describes the universe as a library structured in a particular way. A bizarre and fascinating world, it has had a strong influence on popular culture and has been the subject of philosophical debate. You can read it online here. It begins,
The universe (which others call the Library) is composed of an indefinite, perhaps infinite number of hexagonal galleries. In the center of each gallery is a ventilation shaft, bounded by a low railing. From any hexagon one can see the floors above and below-one after another, endlessly. The arrangement of the galleries is always the same: TWenty bookshelves, five to each side, line four of the hexagon's six sides; the height of the bookshelves, floor to ceiling, is hardly greater than the height of a normal librarian. One of the hexagon's free sides opens onto a narrow sort of vestibule, which in turn opens onto another gallery, identical to the fi.rst-identical in fact to all. To the left and right of the vestibule are two tiny compartments. One is for sleeping, upright; the other, for satisfring one's physical necessities. Through this space, too, there passes a spiral staircase, which winds upward and downward into the remotest distance. In the vestibule there is a mirror, which faithfully duplicates appearances. Men often infer from this mirror that the Library is not infinite-if it were, what need would there be for that illusory replication? I prefer to dream that burnished surfaces are a figuration and promise of the infinite. ... Light is provided by certain spherical fruits that bear the name "bulbs." There are two of these bulbs in each hexagon, set crosswise. The light they give is insufficient, and unceasing. Like all the men of the Library, in my younger days I traveled; I have journeyed in quest of a book, perhaps the catalog of catalogs. Now that my eyes can hardly make out what I myself have written, I am preparing to die, a few leagues from the hexagon where I was born. When I am dead, compassionate hands will throw me over the railing; my tomb will be the unfathomable air, my body will sink for ages, and will decay and dissolve in the wind engendered by my fall, which shall be infinite. I declare that the Library is endless.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Gateway of Hell

Gateway of Hell is an award-winning 1953 Japanese drama film, the first color Japanese film to be released outside Japan. It's a story of obsessive love, honor, trust and sacrifice.

You can watch it with English subtitles, divided into two parts, via Daily Motion below.

part 1:

part 2:

The Telegraph says, "The film's archetypes, encoded in its exquisite costumes, work beautifully. ... –it's an explosion of vivid feeling, expressed in the ripest colours anyone had caught on camera."

Slant Magazine says, "Gate of Hell, sadly, hasn’t enjoyed the long-lasting recognition and acclaim of other post-war Japanese films released around the same time", "but the clamped-down anxiety it brilliantly conjures, the kind of anxiety that haunts newspapers every day, transcends the specificity of time and culture", and calls it "One of the most beautiful color films ever made, Gate of Hell is a despairing post-war masterpiece ripe for rediscovery."

DVD Talk recommends it in two reviews. DVD Beaver has screen shots and notes it was "named by Martin Scorsese as one of the ten greatest colour achievements in world cinema." Ferdy on Film has screen shots with a detailed plot description. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 100%.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Sinister Barrier

Sinister Barrier is a 1939 science fiction novel by Eric Frank Russell, his debut novel. Russell used Forteon ideas in the plot. You can read it online here. It begins,

Quick death awaits the first cow that leads a revolt against milking," mused Professor Peder Bjornsen. He passed long, slender fingers through prematurely white hair. His eyes, strangely protruding, filled with uncanny light, stared out of his office window, which gaped on the third level above traffic swirling through Stockholm's busy Hotorget. He wasn't looking at the traffic.

"And there's a swat ready for the first bee that blats about pilfered honey," he added. Stockholm hummed and roared. The professor continued to stare in silent, fearful contemplation. Then he drew back from the window, slowly, reluctantly, moving as if forcing himself by sheer will power to retreat from a horror that enticed him toward it:

Wednesday, February 20, 2019


Burn! is a 1969 Marlon Brando film directed by Gillo Pontecorvo (director of the award-winning The Battle of Algiers, 1966). Brando plays a British secret agent who foments a slave revolt to justify the creation of a banana republic in the Caribbean. Ennio Morricone wrote the music.

via Youtube:

IndieWire says,
“Burn!” is a complex, challenging, unapologetically hardcore leftest political film that deals quite bluntly with race, colonialism, the exploitation of the “Third World” and greedy, cynical capitalism. It’s just as relevant today as it was, when it was released back in 1970.
Politfilm says,
In a simple and comprehensible way, Burn! addresses complex questions of freedom: struggle for freedom, different interpretations of and approaches to the meaning of freedom, as well as of the suppression of freedom, oppression and colonialism. It deals with the anti-colonial struggle as the conflict between the colonizer and the colonized, which is, in its essence, a class conflict.

DVD Talk praises Brando's performance and says it "is mainly notable for being a ground-breaker on the subject of colonialism" and that it "stacks up as a primer on colonial misdeeds with a script that doesn't force interpretations of contemporary global power struggles". Rotten Tomatoes has a critics rating of 85%.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Seven Men from Now

For those who've asked, I've added an explanation of this blog's name at the top of the sidebar on the right. It says,

Because this blog does not consist of a single focus topic I chose the name Divers and Sundry where "Divers" means being of many and various kinds, and "Sundry" means consisting of a haphazard assortment of different kinds.

"I'd be obliged for a cup of that coffee." -Randolph Scott

Seven Men from Now is a 1956 traditional western directed by Budd Boetticher and starring Randolph Scott. You can never go wrong with a Randolph Scott Western. It's only an hour and 12 minutes long. Can I offer you a cuppa while we watch it? If you want authentic cowboy campfire coffee this link explains how to make it. I prefer mine filtered, so I'll be making a single cup of pour-over coffee. I'll be joining the weekly T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering. Join me?

Slant Magazine gives it 3 1/2 out of 4 stars and says it bridges "the innocence of a genre’s past with the growing ambiguity of modern times." 100% of the Rotten Tomatoes critics give it a positive review.


I'm still enjoying making the ATCs and am learning as I go. I use some of the online challenges as inspiration, though I don't link up at their sites even when my ATC qualifies.

Last week's Think Monday Think ATC challenge was Books:

The Rainbow Card challenge is focusing on Orange this month, and this is what I came up with while thinking about that color:

The button sits up so far above the rest of the card that I was unable to get that pretty ribbon in focus.

This one:

started out as an attempt to make a fuchsia-colored background,but it ended up looking blues-related instead.

I made several cards without any embellishments in an attempt to focus on color and design:

The yellow one has stripes of bright neon yellow, but no matter what I did they showed up as white in the scan. The color is stand-out visible to the eye when looking at the card itself. I like these as-is, though I need to make a better effort to thoroughly fill in colored areas. These would also be good as base cards to add more to.

I looked back over some old Pick-a-Stick ATC challenges, and there are a lot of materials I don't have and won't get just for this, but there were some ideas I could use. This one required adding a pocket, outlining with pencil and then smudging, then adding something metallic:

I used a base card I was sent as part of a swap, used sandpaper for the pocket, and added a furniture nail leftover from replacing a chair seat.

This one required use of the color "slate" and using the steps 1) stamp, 2) drop, and 3) scallop.

One of the best parts about using challenges as inspiration rather than entering your link at their site during the challenge itself is that you can interpret them as you are led without the worry that people will judge you as not "in" enough to qualify for inclusion *wink*. I used gray for the background and stamped clouds with a piece of paper towel. I drew raindrops from cloud to ground, made scallops be part of the clouds and glued a piece of slate in the bottom corner.

I made two using aluminum foil:

I'm using what I already have around here, but I did buy a set of silver, gold, and bronze metallic markers at Target and have already used the silver and bronze.

I made this Valentine one:

having been inspired by this beginner 5-step process:

I've shared other ATCs here and have tagged each of those posts so they can be seen together.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Putney Swope

Putney Swope is a 1969 comedy directed by Robert Downey, Sr. It's a send-up of the advertising business and race relations in the 60s. Dated. I didn't find it funny and didn't finish it. But your mileage may vary.


The Guardian says,
Putney Swope, a scathing, hugely energetic and scattershot satire about the black takeover of a lilywhite Madison Avenue ad agency, made a lot of Top 10 Lists back at the end of the 1960s and then disappeared, seemingly for good. Now it's back, on DVD in the USA and at a screening in London. The chance to reassess it shouldn't be missed by anyone who cherishes the lost movies of a tumultuous era in American history and American cinema.
DVD Talk says, "Putney Swope has both the wit and the willingness to go all the way..." Variety says, "The sharp individual parts do not build to anything and the film, as a piece, is more often dull than exciting, less revealingly witty then merely clever." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 64%.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Lamp Post 42

Now that I've seen one on a road-side lamp post, I notice them more and more.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

The Bigamist

The Bigamist is a 1953 film starring Joan Fontaine, Ida Lupino, Edmund Gwenn, Edmond O'Brien, and Jane Darwell. It's directed by Ida Lupino. This is the first time Lupino appeared in a film she directed. The title is a good description of the plot. It's more melodramatic than I prefer, but it's listed in the book 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and I'd like to eventually see all of them.

via Youtube:

Senses of Cinema has an article on Lupino and says this:
While a number of critics consider the film the most accomplished of Lupino’s early films, The Bigamist remains a problematic entry in Lupino’s directorial career for most viewers. The acting is superb, but visually the film fails to excite. Nevertheless, in its examination of social standards in the early 1950s, the film gives us an uncomfortably claustrophobic vision of the constraints forced upon both women and men during this period. Yet, it would be impossible not to notice the lack of visceral energy in The Bigamist.
Images Journal concludes,
This subtle critique of '50s families and the sterility of home life when business becomes more important than family communication makes The Bigamist just as relevant today as when it was made in 1953. And the sympathetic portrayal of all the characters involved reveals Lupino to be a kind filmmaker with a genuine desire to avoid judgmental behavior. calls it "A film for mature adults who understand the true meaning of ‘shades of grey’."

Friday, February 15, 2019

I See You Never

photo from Open Culture

I See You Never is a 1947 short story by Ray Bradbury. Bradbury was one of the first science fiction authors I discovered, and he is a treasure. I still have some of his books in my steadily deceasing book collection, and some of those are among my all-time favorites. If you haven't read Bradbury, pick up a book by him -every library has something by him- and enjoy.

This particular story is not typical of his work, which is usually science fiction/fantasy, but instead deals with illegal immigration into this country from Mexico. Topical still. You can read this short story online here. It begins:
The soft knock came at the kitchen door, and when Mrs. O’Brian opened it, there on the back porch were her best tenant, Mr. Ramirez, and two police officers, one on each side of him. Mr. Ramirez just stood there, walled in and small. “Why, Mr. Ramirez!” said Mrs. O’Brian. Mr. Ramirez was overcome. He did not seem to have words to explain. He had arrived at Mrs. O’Brian’s rooming house more than two years earlier and had lived there ever since. He had come by bus from Mexico City to San Diego and had then gone up to Los Angeles. There he had found the clean little room, with glossy blue linoleum, and pictures and calendars on the flowered walls, and Mrs. O’Brian as the strict but kindly landlady. During the war, he had worked at the airplane factory and made parts for the planes that flew off somewhere, and even now, after the war, he still held his job. From the first, he had made big money.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Just the Two of Us

Just the Two of Us:

by Grover Washington, Jr. lyrics excerpt:
Just the two of us
We can make it if we try
Just the two of us
Just the two of us
Building them castles in the sky
Just the two of us
You and I

Happy Valentine's Day

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Per Aspera Ad Astra

Per Aspera Ad Astra is a 1981 Soviet science fiction film. It's almost two and a half hours long but doesn't feel that long while you're watching it.

via Youtube:

Moria has a good overview of the plot.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Chickory Coffee

When The Daughter and The Son-In-Law went to New Orleans, they knew the kind of souvenir I'd like brought back for me. This is good coffee! I'm sharing my cuppa with the weekly T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering. A warm welcome waits for you to share a link to your post. Just include a beverage.

note regarding Jo's Let's Art Journal blog: I've been unable to comment on her blog posts for a while now. I may be caught in a spam filter, or I may be making an error when commenting. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks!

I've been continuing my fun times with ATCs. I had Valentine's Day in mind for this one:

The background is red tissue paper. The peach was cut from a magazine ad (where'd I get magazines? Maybe these pictures came from catalogs instead, who knows at this point.). I cut the hearts from a piece of a pink index card, then I put that pretty trim at the bottom.

I made this one just for fun:

It opens, and I've pictured the outside (left, and yes, the outside of the card says, "inside") and the inside (right) above. This is a simple design drawn and colored with Prismacolor colored pencils. I wrote the words with a regular ball point pen. I use blank index cards to make my ATCs, and they are not the smooth surface you might think they are.

This one started out with -you guessed it- a picture from a catalog as the background. I water-colored orange and yellow across the top for a sunny feel.

I glued a piece of an old wash cloth long since relegated to the rag bin to serve as a beach towel, and that colorful bit of paper at the top of the towel is meant to be a sun hat. The shell is from a Florida beach trip from my childhood.

In this one I wanted to try for some white space inspired by the Three Muses Challenge and to make a background without using the catalog photos:

I cut a card from an index card, wet it down, and water-colored a design. Once it was dry, I glued a piece of ribbon across the bottom and sewed on a vintage button from Mother's old button tin. I had trouble with the sewing: if I pulled the thread taut the knot tore through the paper, so the thread is loose where you see it on the button. I think I need more backing than index card if I'm going to do much sewing with these. I edged it on the side with black sharpie marker, but that doesn't show up.

I made this base with papier-mâché, which was fun. I mixed white glue and water together and then let bits from the shredded paper bin sit in the mixture. I spread them thinly over a plain base card.

I added three little bits cut from a cork and sewed the vintage button on through the lace so I wouldn't have to glue the lace. I'm pleased with the background, though it did take some time to dry.

This month's Pick-a-Stick ATC challenge required blending, sand, geometric shapes, and the color Fuchsia. I didn't have any fuchsia at all so looked online for a recipe and blended colors together. I was happy with the color I ended up with, but what's pictured below isn't accurate. I also didn't have sand and used sandpaper instead:

Again to be clear, I realize my ATCs don't qualify under the rules of some/many of the challenges I find online, but since I don't actually link up or enter any of them I feel comfortable claiming them as inspiration. That said, I found inspiration online for the following ATCs:

The Country View February challenge (Black and White Plus One) and Valentine's Day were the inspirations for this:

Everybody Art Challenge has a jeans theme, and I used a jeans photo from a catalog for this:

as I was thinking of the creative artists in the TSFT group who got me interested in ATCs.

Click on the ATC tag for more cards I've shared here.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is the American name for the first book in the J. K. Rowling Harry Potter fantasy series. Fun books, these, and worth reading. This was a re-read for me -I think my third, maybe.

from the dust jacket:
Harry Potter has never been the star of a Quidditch team, scoring points while riding a broom far above the ground. He knows no spells, has never helped to hatch a dragon, and has never worn a cloak of invisibility.

All he knows is a miserable life with the Dursleys, his horrible aunt and uncle, and their abominable son, Dudley -a great big swollen spoiled bully. Harry’s room is a tiny closet at the foot of the stairs, and he hasn’t had a birthday party in eleven years.

But all that is about to change when a mysterious letter arrives by owl messenger: a letter with an invitation to an incredible place that Harry -and anyone who reads about him- will find unforgettable.

For it's there that he finds not only friends, aerial sports, and magic in everything from classes to meals, but a great destiny that's been waiting for him... if Harry can survive the encounter.
The Guardian reviewer says, "I can read this book over and over again. From the very beginning until the end J.K. Rowling has me gripped!" Publisher's Weekly opens a positive review with this: "Readers are in for a delightful romp with this award-winning debut from a British author who dances in the footsteps of P.L. Travers and Roald Dahl." Kirkus Reviews has a positive review.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Unearthly Stranger

Unearthly Stranger is a 1964 British science fiction film. It stars John Neville and Jean Marsh.

BFI Screen Online calls it a "low-key, poignant drama". Moria gives it 3 stars and calls it uneven but says it "achieves an atmosphere of unearthly alienness". Horrorpedia has screen shots and a trailer.

Saturday, February 09, 2019

Murder Is No Joke

Murder Is No Joke is a 1958 Nero Wolfe novella by Rex Stout, first published as the last story in the collection And Four to Go. Murders of men who were traitors to the French Resistance come back to haunt the murderer years later. Somebody tricks Wolfe into being a witness to yet another murder, and he devotes himself to catching the real killer.

These collections are an excellent way to try an author, with separate stories easily readable without a big time investment.

Friday, February 08, 2019

Circus of Horrors

Circus of Horrors is a 1960 British film starring Anton Diffring, Yvonne Monlaur, Erika Remberg, Kenneth Griffith, Jane Hylton, Conrad Phillips, Yvonne Romain and Donald Pleasence. The plastic surgeon joins a circus. What's the worst that could happen?

The New York Times calls it "the crispest, handsomest and most stylish movie shocker in a long time." BFI Screen Online says, "Circus of Horrors takes full advantage of the location's potential to exhibit voluptuous women in skimpy costumes meeting nasty deaths in front of a horrified audience."

Moria calls it an "amusingly lurid piece of sensationalism". DVD Talk calls it "a very entertaining show, transcending its own exploitative nature by way of some curious and sick ideas central to the appeal of Horror films. It's a colorful mix of sex and sadism served up for public display, with good performances and excellent direction." Weird Wild Realm concludes, "With moderate forgiveness for being so simple & melodramatic -- a product of its era -- the film is suspenseful & effective."

Thursday, February 07, 2019

The Minister's Black Veil

The Minister's Black Veil is an 1832 Nathaniel Hawthorne short story. You can read it online here or here. It begins,
THE SEXTON stood in the porch of Milford meetinghouse, pulling busily at the bell rope. The old people of the village came stooping along the street. Children, with bright faces, tripped merrily beside their parents, or mimicked a graver gait, in the conscious dignity of their Sunday clothes. Spruce bachelors looked sidelong at the pretty maidens, and fancied that the Sabbath sunshine made them prettier than on weekdays. When the throng had mostly streamed into the porch, the sexton began to toll the bell, keeping his eye on the Reverend Mr. Hooper's door. The first glimpse of the clergyman's figure was the signal for the bell to cease its summons.

"But what has good Parson Hooper got upon his face?" cried the sexton in astonishment.

All within hearing immediately turned about, and beheld the semblance of Mr. Hooper, pacing slowly his meditative way toward the meetinghouse. With one accord they started, expressing more wonder than if some strange minister were coming to dust the cushions of Mr. Hooper's pulpit.

"Are you sure it is our parson?" inquired Goodman Gray of the sexton.

"Of a certainty it is good Mr. Hooper," replied the sexton. "He was to have exchanged pulpits with Parson Shute, of Westbury; but Parson Shute sent to excuse himself yesterday, being to preach a funeral sermon."

The cause of so much amazement may appear sufficiently slight. Mr. Hooper gentlemanly person, of about thirty, though still a bachelor, was dressed with due clerical neatness, as if a careful wife had starched his band, and brushed the weekly dust from his Sunday's garb. There was but one thing remarkable in his appearance. Swathed about his forehead, and hanging down over his face, so low as to be shaken by his breath Mr. Hooper had on a black veil. On a nearer view it seemed to consist of two folds of crepe, which entirely concealed his features, except the mouth and chin, but probably did not intercept his sight, further than to give a darkened aspect to all living and inanimate things. With this gloomy shade before him, good Mr. Hooper walked onward, at a slow and quiet pace, stooping somewhat, and looking on the ground, as is customary with abstracted men, yet nodding kindly to those of his parishioners who still waited on the meetinghouse steps. But so wonderstruck were they that his greeting hardly met with a return.

"I can't really feel as if good Mr. Hooper's face was behind that piece of crape," said the sexton.

"I don't like it," muttered an old woman, as she hobbled into the meetinghouse. "He has changed himself into something awful, only by hiding his face."

"Our parson has gone mad!" cried Goodman Gray, following him across the threshold.
Listen to it here:

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Django Kill. If You Live, Shoot!

Django Kill. If You Live, Shoot! is a 1967 spaghetti western starring Tomas Milian. This film has no connection with the Django franchise other than the inclusion of the name in the title. It is notorious for its violence. I'm a fan of spaghetti westerns and am glad I've seen this one.

via Youtube: calls it "one of the very best Spaghetti Westerns for its surreal atmosphere, fantastic directing, editing and photography, and layers of meaning." DVD Talk says, "Django Kill is about as close as the Spaghetti Western has come to the arthouse, and...well, it's a challenging movie. If you're game for that sort of challenge, though, Django Kill is a hell of an experience. Recommended."

P.S. My medical procedure went smoothly with no complications, and the general anesthesia was perfectly given so I didn't have a long recovery from that. WooHoo! All is well :)

Monday, February 04, 2019

The House of Unexpected Sisters

I'm having a minor outpatient medical procedure on Tuesday morning
and don't know when I'll be able to visit the T Stands for Tuesday folks.
I'm hoping to be awake and recovered enough to fully participate in a
State of the Union BINGO game with family. That'll brighten my day, won't it!
I'll make my blog visits as soon as I'm awake enough to make sense.
I do enjoy the Tuesday T fun.


The House of Unexpected Sisters is the 18th book in The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith. I started reading these when the series first began. Mother -gone these five years now- and I would read them and enjoy discussing them together. Such sweet memories. I'd recommend reading these books in order, as the relationships grow over the course of the series. This book got good reviews.

from the back of the book:
In this delightful installment of the bestselling No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, Mr. Polopetsi tells Mma Ramostswe and Mma Makutsi a troubling story about a woman who has been wrongly dismissed from her job. Never one to let an injustice go unanswered, Mma Ramotswe begins to investigate, but she soon discovers that the case is more complicated than she initially suspected.

Other surprises await our intrepid heroine. Mma Ramotswe happens to hear of a local nurse named Mingie Ramotswe. Who is this mystery lady who shares Precious's surname? Then she finds out that an unpleasant figure from her past has recently been spotted in town. With the generosity and good humor that guide all her endeavors, Mma Ramotswe will untangle these questions, ultimately bringing to light important truths about friendship and family -both the one you're born with and the one you choose.
favorite quotes:
she glanced out of the window. The sun was on the acacia tree outside, throwing delicate shadows from the foliage. These shadows fell on the trunk of the tree, creating patterns of darkness and light, a mottled effect. A tiny creature, a lizard or gecko, moved suddenly from one of these shadows, clinging to the bark of the tree, becoming sunlit for a few seconds before retreating into the shade. It is going about its business, she thought; this small being had matters as large and important, to it, as our own human affairs. And most of the time, of course, we did not notice such things because it was our own business that we were concerned with, and our hearts were not large enough for things that were so much smaller than we were.
She missed him [her late father] -still, after all these years, there was so much she wanted to ask him. ...There was so much she would have liked to have found out, but, as was the case with so many questions, they are only asked when it is too late and they can no longer be answered.
Those images of those old places, the places you come from, never completely disappear. They remain with you, those scraps of memory, those pictures somewhere in your mind of how things were, of what the sun looked like when it shone through the window of your childhood room and caught floating specks of dust in its rays...
and a quote with tea in it:
She had plenty of time at her disposal -hours if necessary- and she was looking forward to a long session of tea and cake with her old friend.
And on that note, I'd invite you to join the weekly T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering where we share a post with a drink in it and enjoy visiting with old friends and new.


I'm not entering these challenges but am using the ideas for inspiration.

I have some ATC art to share today. I found two ideas I combined -the More Than Words "Say" January mini-challenge and the Think Monday, Think ATC Collage challenge (also from January). The background came from a jeans ad in a magazine:

I added words, both cut out and hand lettered, then glued a row of gravel to the bottom.

I used another catalog/magazine picture for the background on this one inspired by the Three Muses Birds challenge:

I picked up a dried leaf out of a patio flower bed, brought it in, wet it down thoroughly so it wouldn't crumble when I flattened it, and pressed it to dry. When it was dry I glued it and a juniper twig I found on the patio (I fear that juniper tree will not make it through the winter) to the background. The bird is from a card of embellishments I picked up on sale at Michael's back when Elizabeth first introduced me to ATCs and got me started.

I'm going to name the Try it on Tuesday Time Flies challenge from January and the Take a Word Roses challenge (also from January) as the inspirations for this ATC:

I used pink watercolor to cover a base card, then added some ferny, summery greenery paper and put some rick-rack over it. The ribbon reminded me of dancing around a May Pole. I added that clock with the rose as a reminder that time does fly and summer's roses will be here sooner than we expect.

I tried sewing again for this one and finally gave it up and covered the holes with those cute bug stickers:

I've decided that I need to do any sewing on a separate piece and then attach that piece to the ATC.

The More Than Words challenge for February appealed to me, and I had fun looking up song lyrics that went with "Always". Here's the first one I did that was inspired by that concept:

Again, please note: I'm not participating in this challenge but just using the general concept as inspiration for my ATCs. Here is another along that line:

Other of my ATC cards shared at this blog can be found by clicking on the ATC tag.

Yoga Challenges

I've been doing yoga off and on since I was in high school. I've become more dedicated to my practice in the last few years, with a focus on poses that improve strength. When I re-started my regular practice I did some research and planned a program I thought suited my later-in-life needs. Lately I realized that I had been using those same poses in the same order for so long that I was more mindless than mindful in my practice, and I resolved to change that during this year. I serendipitously came across two different 30-day challenges by teachers on Youtube that I've followed and trusted. I did them both during January, and I highly recommend either -or both- series.

Fightmaster Yoga has a 30-day challenge specifically for beginners. I went to bed at night looking forward to joining her for a video the next morning. This is Day 1:

and the other days follow in the playlist there or at this link. From her Youtube page: "Beginners yoga 30 day challenge is a perfect program for the beginner and for those who want to deepen their practice."

The next 30-day series is from Yoga With Adriene. Here is her Day 1:

and the other videos can be accessed via the playlist here. The Yoga with Adriene series is more advanced and required more adaptations for me to use it, but adaptations are actually simple to insert as you can just stay in the pose you could do right before the pose you can't or you can just attempt her more advanced posture while staying within the ability of your own body. She encourages an openness that makes the adaptations feel fine. But the series isn't geared to beginners like the Fightmaster one is.

I missed several days and am still not finished with either series, but I'll get back to them soon.

I'm saving these in a folder and will use both series again later in the year. I subscribe to both of these channels on Youtube and have signed up for notifications so that I get an email when a new video is published. Yoga has many, many health benefits, can be adapted for any fitness level, and is both calming and energizing. I'd encourage you to check them out if it's an appropriate activity for you. (My practice is doctor-approved for me by the doctors I've had over the years.)

If these videos are beyond your current ability, try chair yoga. There are many videos in the search results at that link.

Sunday, February 03, 2019

Happy Birthday, Melanie

Brand New Key:

by Melanie, who was born on this date in 1947. I remember when this song was released in 1971 and have fond memories of listening to it on the radio. She was influenced by Meher Baba (which warms my heart) and is Libertarian (which doesn't). She is still active in the music industry, and Wikipedia says she lives in Nashville.

Saturday, February 02, 2019


Miriam is a 1945 short story, one of Truman Capote's first published stories. You can read it online here. It begins,
For several years, Mrs. H. T. Miller lived alone in a pleasant apartment (two rooms with kitchenette) in a remodeled brownstone near the East River. She was a widow: Mr. H. T. Miller had left a reasonable amount of insurance. Her interests were narrow, she had no friends to speak of, and she rarely journeyed farther than the corner grocery. The other people in the house never seemed to notice her: her clothes were matter-of-fact, her hair iron-gray, clipped and casually waved; she did not use cosmetics, her features were plain and inconspicuous, and on her last birthday she was sixty-one. Her activities were seldom spontaneous: she kept the two rooms immaculate, smoked an occasional cigarette, prepared her own meals and tended a canary.

Then she met Miriam.

Friday, February 01, 2019

The Dybbuk

The Dybbuk is a 1937 Polish fantasy film. From Wikipedia: "The Dybbuk is considered a seminal play in the history of Jewish theatre, and played an important role in the development of Yiddish theatre and theatre in Israel". It is a type of ghost/possession story, a tragic tale of love and loss and fate. This is not horror and not scary at all. This version has inter-titles and some subtitles:

The Chicago Reader has a consideration which says, "it's hard not to think of the three million Polish Jews who would be slaughtered during the Shoah only a few years after the film was made; if The Dybbuk is at all scary, it's as a harbinger of real-life horror."