Sunday, March 31, 2019

Compulsion (1959)

Compulsion is a 1959 film based on the book which was a fictionalized account of the Leopold and Loeb case. Directed by Richard Fleischer, it stars Orson Welles (as the defense attorney based on Clarence Darrow), Diane Varsi, Dean Stockwell, E. G. Marshall, and Gavin MacLeod.

DVD Talk says it "offers an early blueprint for the modern, full-bodied "true crime" drama". The critics rating at Rotten Tomatoes is 100%.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

The Illustrated Man

I remember when I bought this book in my youth, and I have read it numerous times since. The Illustrated Man is a 1951 short story collection by Ray Bradbury. If you're a science fiction/fantasy fan or if you like Ray Bradbury I'm sure you've read this at least once. If not, I'd encourage you to give it a try. They're short stories, after all, and easy to start and then skip to the next one if you're not engaged. There's a variety here, so it's entirely possible to like one and not another of them.

from the dust jacket:
Here are twenty stories, welded in a delightfully ingenious framework, in which "the incomparable Ray Bradbury," as reviewers have called him, again kicks loose his wonderful imagination and lets it soar through space and time to seek out the weird and the lovely, the simple and the terrible, in his fellow man.

Here are stories of other worlds:
  • Of love and inspiration on Mars-
  • Of madness in Venus's eternal rains-
  • Of lonely death in space between worlds-
  • And of the little villages of our own world where there are strange things we never notice and strange beings we never meet.
But like all Bradbury stories, these are always tales of people, written with the freshness and quality which have brought the author widespread critical acclaim.
It was adapted for film in 1969, and though that was a fine enough film (with Rod Steiger in the title role) it doesn't hold a candle to the book. There's a new production in Development Hell.

Conceptual Fiction concludes,
It is worth remembering that this author, whose life spanned the period from the introduction of the Model T Ford to the most modern and streamlined hybrid vehicles, never learned to drive a car. He is a proud technophobe who also scorns computers, the Internet and ATMs. But you don’t need a driver’s license to traverse the galaxy in your imagination. And for that, Ray Bradbury is the first person you would want behind the wheel.
The C.S. Monitor names it as one of Bradbury's best. SF Site praises it and says, "Re-reading The Illustrated Man for this review was no chore, any more than viewing yet another Monet painting. It is a true classic." Kirkus Reviews calls it "A book which is not limited by its special field."

Friday, March 29, 2019

The Sin of Nora Moran

The Sin of Nora Moran is a 1933 pre-code film about a young woman sentenced to the electric chair for a murder she didn't commit. It's just over an hour long.

TCM has an overview.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Buddy Holly is Alive and Well on Ganymede

Buddy Holly is Alive and Well on Ganymede is a 1991 comic science fiction novel by Bradley Denton. If you like this kind of thing it's fun as can be. You can read it online here. It begins,
"The Midwest has a lot to answer for."

--HOWARD WALDROP, following the August 1990 Wisconsin helicopter crash that took the life of guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan


In life, their names were linked for only a few cold, miserable weeks.

In death, their names became a Trinity, as if carved into the same tablet of sacred stone.

Ritchie Valens. The Big Bopper.

Buddy Holly.

Years later, we would look back with longing and say that the music had died.

We should have known better.

Favorite quote:
Sam Cooke's death was a turning point for Mother as well. It was the impetus that started her down the path to true weirdness. She wrote, All things beautiful are doomed. The purer the voice, the truer the vision, the more vibrant the song, the sooner death comes for the perpetrator.

The only way to escape this truth is to deny the reality from which it has been created, to exist in some other universe altogether.

So it is time to believe in flying saucers. Dianetics is worth serious consideration. Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. Mississippi welcomes visiting Jews. Vietnam will become the fifty-first state. My son Oliver is the reincarnation not only of Buddy Holly, but of the Buddha. Mama is the reincarnation of Lot's wife. I can fly to the moon if I tape a photograph of John Glenn to my forehead.

Memphis-related quote:
I had no way of divining that in Memphis, Tennessee, the forty-two-year-old King of Rock and Roll had less than three days left to live.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019


Bandini is a 1963 award-wining Indian film about a woman serving a sentence of life in prison for murder.

Filmi Geek says, "Bandini is visually mesmerizing, a magically beautiful movie to watch. Every shot is artfully constructed, lit as dramatically as a painting." The Hindu calls it "a rare film that centred around the woman and told the story from a woman’s viewpoint" and says, "The songs are all worth a rewind. And the film worth watching all over again."

Let's Talk About Bollywood has a thoughtful consideration.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Memphis Botanic Gardens

This is a photo-heavy post, so join me for a cuppa as you scroll down the page,

and then come with me to the weekly T party over at Bleubeard and Elizabeth's Altered Book Lover blog.

I missed the height of daffodil season, but there were still nice drifts of them when I went out to the Memphis Botanic Gardens a couple of weeks ago:

Can you see the turtles sunning themselves below?

There was a sculpture exhibit Origami in the Garden, "These 20 museum quality, fine art, outdoor and indoor, metal sculptures will be displayed throughout our 31 specialty gardens":



Bow tie:

Take 3:




Random, not from a prompt:

Monday, March 25, 2019

The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever

Despair is an emotion like any other.
It is the habit of despair which damns,
not the despair itself.

Lord Foul's Bane is the first book in the first Stephen Donaldson Thomas Covenant trilogy (The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever). A fantasy masterpiece, I remember when it was released in 1977 and have read it several times. I'm re-reading this first trilogy and enjoying it just as much this time through. If you like anti-heroes and fantasy but still for some reason have never read these books, this series -especially the first trilogy- is well worth looking into.

from the dust jacket:
A wondrous world of magical adventure, as richly conceived and deeply engrossing as has ever been offered in a work of epic fantasy, awaits readers of this book, the opening volume of Stephen R. Donaldson's remarkable Covenant trilogy.

Here we meet Thomas Covenant, a man burdened with a terrible stigma that has deprived him of wife, friends, almost all human contact, perhaps even his sanity. In this state of moral isolation, he is suddenly shunted to a mysterious world known simply as "the Land" -a place of magical potency, acutely beautiful wherever it has recovered from the ravages of age-old, recurring wars. For the Land has an immortal enemy -Lord Foul the Despiser- whose unceasing intent is to lay it waste. He has been defeated in the past by the Council of Lords, servants of the Land and protectors of its arcane lore; but now the power of the Council has been reduced, and Lord Foul has found his perfect, unwitting tool -Thomas Covenant, the man who thinks the Land is a dream; who cannot accept its life-restoring powers for fear of confronting the terrible dilemma of his own existence; Covenant, the Unbeliever.

With irresistible narrative sweep, full of scenic grandeur, fabulous myth, and characters as memorable and fascinating as any in fantasy fiction, Stephen R. Donaldson has created a landmark of imaginative literature.


The Illearth War is the second book in Stephen Donaldson's first Thomas Covenant fantasy trilogy. This is a true trilogy and so should be read in publication order. Go get that first book! You won't regret it.

from the dust jacket:
It has been forty years in the time of the Land -a mere four days in the time of Thomas Covenant's "real world- since his first visit to that magical realm torn by an age-old, elemental struggle between the forces of good and evil. Having led the Council of Lords on a perilous quest to recover the Staff of Law, a talisman of power lost for centuries, he returns to discover their earlier mission to have been merely the opening move in the apocalyptic scheme of Lord Foul the Despiser, the Land's immortal enemy. For that quest has given Foul an even greater weapon -the Illearth Stone- and as seems to be the pattern of his afflicted life, Covenant must assume personal responsibility for a fateful situation he has tried desperately to avoid. The conflict that follows is of monumental scale, for now the powers of evil are truly unleashed: Lord Foul attacks the Land. Defending it is the stalwart Council of Lords, governed now by the beautiful High Lord Elena -discovered to be Covenant's own daughter- and led in combat by Warmark Hile Troy -a blind man who may or may not be from Covenant's real world. Armies clash in titanic battle -malevolent spawns of evil met by the main and magic of the Land's protectors- while Covenant and Elena pursue their own hazardous mission into a fabled mountain region, hoping to find the ancient gnostic power that will counter the Illearth Stone.
Fantasy Book Review concludes, "Recommended, this series is deserving of its fantasy classic tag." SF Book Reviews says, "Donaldson's prose is incredibly rich, a complex and sophisticated narrative that demands your undivided attention but one that really deserves it too. The author continues to defy conventions and instead we are treated to a unique voice which is richly dark and deliciously anti-heroic."


The Power That Preserves is the third book in Donaldson's first trilogy. There are others that follow this, but you'd be fine stopping with this one. It's a powerful narrative, and I can't imagine you'd regret reading it.

from the dust jacket:
Twice Thomas Covenant has been wrenched out of his bitter life of isolation and scorn to find himself the reluctant instrument of conflict between good and evil in that magical world known as the Land. Again he returns; but now, realizing his responsibility for the Land's survival, and in angry atonement for having been the cause of so much of its anguish and peril, he will no longer be manipulated. He is prepared to make his own stand against Lord Foul the Despiser, to use - if only he can discoer how - the power that is his alone, feared beyond all other by Foul and his minions.

In the great cliffside citadel of Revelstone, the Council of Lords is under seige by the seemingly limitless armies raised by Foul's malignant magic - creatures of hideous form and spirit against whom High Lord Mhoram and his exhausted cohortrs must constantaly revise their own magic and force of arms. Meanwhile, across the Land, Covenant makes his tortuous way to the Despiser's stronghold -the cavernous keep known as Foul's Creche- accompanied by his great friend Saltheart Foamfollower, the Giant whose magnificent strength and resolution are reinformced by his own cause for revenge. But it is Covenant alone who must meet Foul in final combat, not only to assure survival for the Land but also to achieve salvation for himself in his life beyond it ... thus bringing to a close Stephen R. Donaldson's magnificent epic fantasy, The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever.
Fantasy Book Review concludes with this:
The Thomas Covenant Chronicles are deep, sophisticated novels written in a very complex yet beautiful way. The Power That Preserves brings to an end a trilogy that was very important for the fantasy genre, being the most complex work since J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings and a series that kick-started a new era and a new wave of fantasy authors. A must-read for a fantasy fan

Sunday, March 24, 2019

The Machine

The Machine is a 2013 science fiction/thriller film about two computer programmers who create cyborgs that are taken and used by the military. As is always the case -you'd think they'd learn- things don't end well. It stars Toby Stephens. This movie is thought-provoking and well-worth watching. This sound in this video drops out every once in a while but not enough to keep you from watching the movie.

The Guardian calls it "madly uneven". IndieWire says, "It’s a simple pleasure, but even in a simple movie, it’s fairly unique, establishing a vision not often seen in small-scale sci-fi." Den of Geek says, "Cult gem status surely beckons." Moria says, "The Machine has you captivated from the opening scenes."

Empire Online concludes with this: "Brimming with ideas and laudable ambition, it's well worth a look." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics rating of 76%.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Red Mandarin Dress

Red Mandarin Dress by Qiu Xiaolong is the 5th book in the Detective Chen series. I've enjoyed the taste of China in this series and have found the characters interesting.

from the dust jacket:
Chief Inspector Chen Cao of the Shaghai Police Department is often put in charge of politically sensitive cases. So it is no surprise when he receives a call at home asking him to look into aspects of a sensitive corruption case. ealizing this case is likely to be trouble, and having recently ruffled more than a few official feathers, Chen takes immediate action -and goes on leave from work.

At the same time, a serial killer is apparently stalking Shanghai. The killer's calling card is a series of murdered young women, their bodies left in well-trafficked locations, each of them redressed in precisely the same style of red mandarin dress. With the newspapers screaming about Shanghai's first serial killer, Party officials eager to resolve the murders quickly, and the police under pressure from all sides, something has to give. Despite being officially on leave from the department, Chen finds himself in the midst of his most dangerous and sensitive case to date, one whose roots reach back to the country's tumultuous recent past.
Kirkus Reviews closes with this: "The author’s heady plot highlights his strengths, elegantly capturing China in transition. A fascinating read." Publishers Weekly calls it "masterful" and concludes, "the first-rate characterizations and elegant portrait of a society attempting to move from rigid Maoist ideologies to an accommodation with capitalism will keep readers engaged and eager for more."

I've read these others from the series:
#1 Death of a Red Heroine
#2 A Loyal Character Dancer
#3 When Red Is Black
#4 A Case of Two Cities

Friday, March 22, 2019

King Lear (1953)

King Lear is a 1953 television adaptation of the Shakespeare play. Orson Welles stars. It is part of the Omnibus series, which ran nine years. This is from an early season. Heavily abridged, it removes the subplot entirely but includes all of the main plot.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Cathedral (1981)

photo from Wikipedia

Cathedral is a 1981 short story by Raymond Carver. It is a story about seeing and transformation. Considered one of Carver's finest works, it was included in the 1982 edition of Best American Short Stories. You can read it online here. It begins,
This blind man, an old friend of my wife’s, he was on his way to spend the night. His wife had died. So he was visiting the dead wife’s relatives in Connecticut. He called my wife from his in-law’s. Arrangements were made. He would come by train, a five-hour trip, and my wife would meet him at the station. She hadn’t seen him since she worked for him one summer in Seattle ten years ago. But she and the blind man had kept in touch. They made tapes and mailed them back and forth. I wasn’t enthusiastic about his visit. He was no one I knew. And his being blind bothered me. My idea of blindness came from the movies. In the movies, the blind moved slowly and never laughed. Sometimes they were led by seeing-eye dogs. A blind man in my house was not something I looked forward to.

That summer in Seattle she had needed a job. She didn’t have any money. The man she was going to marry at the end of the summer was in officers’ training school. He didn’t have any money, either. But she was in love with the guy, and he was in love with her, etc. She’d seen something in the paper: HELP WANTED —Reading to Blind Man, and a telephone number. She phoned and went over, was hired on the spot. She worked with this blind man all summer. She read stuff to him, case studies, reports, that sort of thing. She helped him organize his little office in the county social service department. They’d become good friends, my wife and the blind man

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

The Silence Beneath the Bark

The Silence Beneath the Bark is a 2010 animated short film (11 minutes) about two forest creatures who meet each other after being unexpectedly awakened from their winter hibernation. I'm captivated by the creatures but confused about the ending. The director describes it as a fairy tale. The director also explains the meaning of the ending there, but I'm not fond of endings that require explaining. I'm just enjoying it for the beauty and sweetness I see here.

Here's a view of a landscape -perhaps that very landscape?- after the first snow:

First Snow by Ivan Shishkin, 1875

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Kino, by Haruki Murakami

Kino is a short story by Haruki Murakami. You can read it at the New Yorker. It begins,
The man always sat in the same seat, the stool farthest down the counter. When it wasn’t occupied, that is, but it was nearly always free. The bar was seldom crowded, and that particular seat was the most inconspicuous and the least comfortable. A staircase in the back made the ceiling slanted and low, so it was hard to stand up there without bumping your head. The man was tall, yet, for some reason, preferred that cramped, narrow spot.

Kino remembered the first time the man had come to his bar. His appearance had immediately caught Kino’s eye ...
Because the story takes place in a bar, where I hope you'll join me for a beverage as we visit, I'm linking to Bleubeard and Elizabeth's weekly T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering.

Kino listens to jazz LPs in his bar, and specifically mentioned is Art Tatum:

Also mentioned is the Coleman Hawkins version of Joshus Fit The Battle Of Jericho with Major Holley on bass:

and Billie Holiday's Georgia on my Mind:

Erroll Garner's Moonglow:

and Buddy DeFranco's I Can't Get Started:



I seem to have gotten a defective glue stick. It's a name brand I've never had trouble with, but with this one I can't make even light-weight paper stick and I can't get a smooth surface. I'm going to throw it away and use another that came in the same multi-pack. We'll see.

This one was inspired by the prompt Shoes:

And this one by the prompt Animals:





And random, not from a prompt: