Sunday, June 30, 2019


Cabiria is an epic 1914 Italian film directed by Giovanni Pastrone. It is set in ancient Italy during the 2nd Punic War. It follows a child who escapes a volcanic eruption with her nurse. This film influenced the works of D.W. Griffith and Cecil B. DeMille and is considered the first epic film. It was the first movie screened at the White House. The special effects are impressive!

Roger Ebert has it on his list Great Movies and calls it "beautiful and enthralling". 1000 Misspent Hours focuses on the film as the first appearance of a Hercules-type strongman figure in film -Maciste is his name here. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics rating of 100%.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

The Boarding House

Image from The Irish Times

The Boarding House is a 1914 short story by James Joyce. You can read it online here. It begins,
MRS. MOONEY was a butcher's daughter. She was a woman who was quite able to keep things to herself: a determined woman. She had married her father's foreman and opened a butcher's shop near Spring Gardens. But as soon as his father-in-law was dead Mr. Mooney began to go to the devil. He drank, plundered the till, ran headlong into debt. It was no use making him take the pledge: he was sure to break out again a few days after. By fighting his wife in the presence of customers and by buying bad meat he ruined his business. One night he went for his wife with the cleaver and she had to sleep a neighbour's house.

After that they lived apart. She went to the priest and got a separation from him with care of the children. She would give him neither money nor food nor house-room; and so he was obliged to enlist himself as a sheriff's man. He was a shabby stooped little drunkard with a white face and a white moustache white eyebrows, pencilled above his little eyes, which were veined and raw; and all day long he sat in the bailiff's room, waiting to be put on a job. Mrs. Mooney, who had taken what remained of her money out of the butcher business and set up a boarding house in Hardwicke Street, was a big imposing woman. Her house had a floating population made up of tourists from Liverpool and the Isle of Man and, occasionally, artistes from the music halls. Its resident population was made up of clerks from the city. She governed the house cunningly and firmly, knew when to give credit, when to be stern and when to let things pass. All the resident young men spoke of her as The Madam.

Mrs. Mooney's young men paid fifteen shillings a week for board and lodgings (beer or stout at dinner excluded). They shared in common tastes and occupations and for this reason they were very chummy with one another. They discussed with one another the chances of favourites and outsiders. Jack Mooney, the Madam's son, who was clerk to a commission agent in Fleet Street, had the reputation of being a hard case. He was fond of using soldiers' obscenities: usually he came home in the small hours. When he met his friends he had always a good one to tell them and he was always sure to be on to a good thing-that is to say, a likely horse or a likely artiste. He was also handy with the mits and sang comic songs. On Sunday nights there would often be a reunion in Mrs. Mooney's front drawing-room. The music-hall artistes would oblige; and Sheridan played waltzes and polkas and vamped accompaniments. Polly Mooney, the Madam's daughter, would also sing. She sang:

I'm a ... naughty girl.
You needn't sham:
You know I am.

Polly was a slim girl of nineteen; she had light soft hair and a small full mouth. Her eyes, which were grey with a shade of green through them, had a habit of glancing upwards when she spoke with anyone, which made her look like a little perverse madonna. Mrs. Mooney had first sent her daughter to be a typist in a corn-factor's office but, as a disreputable sheriff's man used to come every other day to the office, asking to be allowed to say a word to his daughter, she had taken her daughter home again and set her to do housework. As Polly was very lively the intention was to give her the run of the young men. Besides young men like to feel that there is a young woman not very far away. Polly, of course, flirted with the young men but Mrs. Mooney, who was a shrewd judge, knew that the young men were only passing the time away: none of them meant business. Things went on so for a long time and Mrs. Mooney began to think of sending Polly back to typewriting when she noticed that something was going on between Polly and one of the young men. She watched the pair and kept her own counsel.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Hamlet 360: Thy Father’s Spirit

Hamlet 360: Thy Father's Spirit:

from the WGBH web site:
Commonwealth Shakespeare Company has taken Shakespeare’s most iconic play to meet the cutting edge of immersive storytelling in Hamlet 360: Thy Father’s Spirit, embracing the immersive power of VR to plunge viewers into Hamlet’s harrowing journey. This cinematic 360-degree adaptation explores new dimensions of the medium by casting the viewer as the Ghost of Hamlet’s dead father. Giving them this role as an omniscient observer, guide and participant, lends viewers a sense of agency and urgency throughout the 60-minute experience.
Hamlet has been adapted for film before, of course. Lawrence Olivier was Hamlet in 1948. In 1990 Mel Gibson starred in a Franco Zeffirelli film. There are about 50 others. I'd much rather see a play than read it, so I enjoy having a choice in adaptations.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Happy 200th Birthday, Memphis!

This year is Memphis' Bicentennial, and -as you can imagine- there are events and celebrations all year. There's a timeline of our city's history here. The Memphis library site has a collection of digital photos from our past online here.

Here's an 11-minute history of Memphis music:

Walkin' in Memphis:

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

And God Said to Cain

And God Said to Cain is a 1970 spaghetti western starring Klaus Kinski. Kinski plays against type as an anti-hero who isn't insane, unlike his usual bat-shit crazy characters. I can highly recommend this. It has a cleanly linear betrayal/revenge plot without any of the unnecessary sub-plots that so often get in the way. The characters are well-drawn and well-acted, and it has a sinister atmosphere that takes full advantage of the growing dark brought by the oncoming tornado. calls it "a magnificent western". has a glowing review.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Happy Leon Day!

Leon Day (that's "Noel" spelled backwards) is the midpoint in the year between one Christmas and the next. We're halfway there, folks, so if you want to give frugal/handmade presents it's time to start planning and preparing. If you need help getting in the mood, have a cup of hot spiced tea in a Santa mug and listen to some Christmas music:

I suggest propagating one of your favorite plants for those near and dear to you. Root a pothos or lavender cutting; divide your peace lily or mother-in-law tongue. Be on the look out for pots on clearance. You'll feel so proud of yourself come November when the stress of shopping is overwhelming those around you and you're all done with thoughtful handmade gifts ready.

I'm linking this post to Bleubeard and Elizabeth's weekly T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering.


ATCs (with the inspiration prompt listed before each one):


Random (not from a prompt):

I wish I had noticed that my scan of this one cut off the "s" in "appears". I'm not fixin' it now, though, and you'll just hafta take my word for it that it's on the actual card.



Leaf or Petal:


Words to Live By:




Most important lesson learned this week: If I'm going to use texture paste, I think I need to use a stronger substrate than index card.

Monday, June 24, 2019

At the Ends of the Earth

At the Ends of the Earth is an award-winning 1999 short film about a house built in an extremely odd location. Every house-hold is affected by things that knock it off-balance, and this is -to me, anyway- a literal view of that:

Sunday, June 23, 2019

The Leavenworth Case

The Leavenworth Case is an 1878 detective novel by Anna Katharine Green, the mother of the detective novel, known for writing well plotted, legally accurate stories. This book is about the murder of a retired merchant and introduces the detective Ebenezer Gryce. It has been adapted for film twice, once in 1923 and again in 1936. You can read the book online here or listen to a Librivox recording here. It begins,
I had been a junior partner in the firm of Veeley, Carr and Raymond, attorneys and counsellors at law, for about a year, when one morning, in the temporary absence of both Mr. Veeley and Mr. Carr, there came into our office a young man whose whole appearance was so indicative of haste and agitation that I involuntarily rose at his approach and impetuously inquired:

"What is the matter? You have no bad news to tell, I hope."

"I have come to see Mr. Veeley; is he in?"

"No," I replied; "he was unexpectedly called away this morning to Washington; cannot be home before to-morrow; but if you will make your business known to me----"

"To you, sir?" he repeated, turning a very cold but steady eye on mine; then, seeming to be satisfied with his scrutiny, continued, "There is no reason why I shouldn't; my business is no secret. I came to inform him that Mr. Leavenworth is dead."

"Mr. Leavenworth!" I exclaimed, falling back a step. Mr. Leavenworth was an old client of our firm, to say nothing of his being the particular friend of Mr. Veeley.

"Yes, murdered; shot through the head by some unknown person while sitting at his library table."

"Shot! murdered!" I could scarcely believe my ears.

"How? when?" I gasped.

"Last night. At least, so we suppose. He was not found till this morning. I am Mr. Leavenworth's private secretary," he explained, "and live in the family. It was a dreadful shock," he went on, "especially to the ladies."

"Dreadful!" I repeated. "Mr. Veeley will be overwhelmed by it."

"They are all alone," he continued in a low businesslike way I afterwards found to be inseparable from the man; "the Misses Leavenworth, I mean--Mr. Leavenworth's nieces; and as an inquest is to be held there to-day it is deemed proper for them to have some one present capable of advising them. As Mr. Veeley was their uncle's best friend, they naturally sent me for him; but he being absent I am at a loss what to do or where to go."

"I am a stranger to the ladies," was my hesitating reply, "but if I can be of any assistance to them, my respect for their uncle is such----"

To be honest, I scheduled this post in advance, thinking I'd have finished it by now, but I've been glued to the Women's World Cup and have spent less time reading than usual. I am enjoying it so far. I can't imagine why it's not better known.

There is mention of a Methodist preacher in the 19th chapter:
Meeting the lady at a parsonage, some twenty miles from the watering-place at which she was staying, he stands up with her before a Methodist preacher, and the ceremony of marriage is performed. There were two witnesses, a hired man of the minister, called in for the purpose, and a lady friend who came with the bride; but there was no license, and the bride had not completed her twenty-first year. Now, was that marriage legal? If the lady, wedded in good faith upon that day by my friend, chooses to deny that she is his lawful wife, can he hold her to a compact entered into in so informal a manner?

Publishers Weekly says, "First published in 1878, nine years before the debut of Sherlock Holmes in A Study in Scarlet , this atmospheric and suspenseful mystery well deserves a modern audience." Mystery Scene notes that "Green’s influence and reputation were so great at the time that Arthur Conan Doyle made a point of seeking her out during an 1894 visit to the United States."

Cross-examining Crime calls it "A Classic Which Deserves Its Reputation" and concludes,
Although it has its melodramatic moments, this is a strong and well-constructed mystery, with plenty of clues (physical and psychological), as well as a good handful of red herrings. It would not have been too out of place if it had been published in the 1920s in my opinion such are the parallels between Golden Age detective fiction and this its’ predecessor. Its’ reputation as a cornerstone in detective fiction writing is certainly justified and I’d warmly recommend it.
Criminal Element calls it "a milestone of the genre" and says,
Yale Law School, among others, assigned it to its students to demonstrate the snares associated with circumstantial evidence. So cleverly plotted is it that members of the Pennsylvania Legislature insisted that Anna Katharine Green must be a pseudonym for some man, because “the story was manifestly beyond a woman’s powers.” Just goes to show you that government has always been populated by idiots.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Farewell, My Lovely

Farewell, My Lovely is a 1975 film noir, an adaptation of Raymond Chandler's book by the same name. Robert Mitchum plays private detective Phillip Marlowe. Harry Dean Stanton, Jack O'Halloran, and Sylvester Stallone are also in this movie. Robert Mitchum is a national treasure and does not disappoint. The soundtrack is perfect.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Adjustment Team

Adjustment Team is a 1954 short story by award-winning science fiction author Philip K. Dick. It was adapted for film in 2011. You can read the story online here. It begins,

It was a bright morning. The sun shone down on the damp lawns and sidewalks, reflecting off the sparkling parked cars. The Clerk came walking hurriedly, leafing through his instructions, flipping pages and frowning. He stopped in front of the small green stucco house for a moment, and then turned up the walk, entering the back yard.

The dog was asleep inside his shed, his back turned to the world. Only his thick tail showed.

"For Heaven's sake," the Clerk exclaimed, hands on his hips. He tapped his mechanical pencil noisily against his clipboard. "Wake up, you in there."

The dog stirred. He came slowly out of his shed, head first, blinking and yawning in the morning sunlight. "Oh, it's you. Already?" He yawned again.

"Big doings." The Clerk ran his expert finger down the traffic-control sheet. "They're adjusting Sector T137 this morning. Starting at exactly nine o'clock." He glanced at his pocket watch. "Three hour alteration. Will finish by noon."

"T137? That's not far from here."

The Clerk's lips twisted in contempt. "Indeed. You're showing astonishing perspicacity, my black-haired friend. Maybe you can divine why I'm here."

"We overlap with T137."

"Exactly. Elements from this sector are involved. We must make sure they're properly placed when adjustment begins." The Clerk glanced toward the small green stucco house. "Your particular task concerns the man in there. He is employed by a business establishment lying within Sector T137. It's essential he be there before nine o'clock.

The dog studied the house. The shades had been let up. The kitchen light was on. Beyond the lace curtains dim shapes could be seen, stirring around the table. A man and woman. They were drinking coffee.

"There they are," the dog murmured. "The man, you say? He's not going to be harmed, is he?"

"Of course not. But he must be at his office early. Usually he doesn't leave until after nine. Today he must leave at eight-thirty. He must be within Sector T137 before the process begins, or he won't be altered to coincide with the new adjustment."

The dog sighed. "That means I have to summon."

"Correct." The Clerk checked his instruction sheet. "You're to summon at precisely eight-fifteen. You've got that? Eight-fifteen. No later."

"What will an eight-fifteen summons bring?"

The Clerk flipped open his instruction book, examining the code columns. "It will bring A Friend with a Car. To drive him to work early." He closed the book and folded his arms, preparing to wait. "That way he'll get to his office almost an hour ahead of time. Which is vital."

"Vital," the dog murmured. He lay down, half inside his shed. His eyes closed. "Vital."

"Wake up! This must be done exactly on time. If you summon too soon or too late—"

The dog nodded sleepily. "I know. I'll do it right. I always do it right."


Ed Fletcher poured more cream in his coffee. He sighed, leaning back in his chair. Behind him the oven hissed softly, filling the kitchen with warm fumes. The yellow overhead light beamed down.

"Another roll?" Ruth asked.

"I'm full." Ed sipped his coffee. "You can have it."

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Julius Caesar (1979)

Julius Caesar is the 1979 adaptation of the Shakespeare play. This BBC version is directed by Herbert Wise. Charles Gray is Caesar.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019


In my search for non-competitive solitary games I was pointed to Morrowind by The Younger Son. I had tried Journey, but you do have to defeat an enemy to make it all the way through the game. I had tried Walden: a Game, but you have to complete set tasks within a set time period or all the color goes out of the world. I am particularly interested in a game where you can wander aimlessly without fulfilling set goals or performing timed tasks. The Younger Son tells me there are enemies in Morrowind but that you can avoid them and that there are tasks to do but that you don't have to do them and that you can wander through the environment as you wish.

Here's the game's trailer:

I have fond memories wash over me when I hear the music and voices and see the graphics in this game, because I remember when the game first came out and my son discovered it in 2002. I enjoyed watching him play. As I picked a name and a character and was given my first task I remembered my son doing those same things, but I'm ignoring the task. He always played the game as it's supposed to be played, following the directions and meeting all the challenges, so I've never seen the game explored in the way I intend to do.

I found some images online at Jason's Flickr account labeled for non-commercial re-use:




We'll see as I wander if this game will be enjoyable for me. Maybe what I want doesn't really exist in the gaming world and what I need to do is figure out how Second Life works.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

The End of Breakfast at Madam Vuillard

The End of Breakfast at Madam Vuillard (1895):

by Edouard Vuillard, who died on June 21, 1940, at the age of 71. I'm linking to the weekly T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering. Please share a post with a beverage in it and join us.


ATCs (with the inspiration prompt named above each card):



Stencil over a colored background:

Flower Child:


Interesting Hat:


Use the word "life":

Make a Mark:

Random (not from a prompt):

Lesson learned: I want colored pencil to show up on glossy paper, but I have trouble making that work. I have better luck using acrylic paints on the glossy paper and drawing on that with the colored pencils.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Train 42

image from ScotRail

Early this month ScotRail offered free train fare between Edinburgh and Glasgow to all 42-year-olds to celebrate their new faster journeys, which take 42-minutes. It was a great deal, but we missed it -by several decades in my case, as it happens.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

The Diabolical Dr. Z

The Diabolical Dr. Z is a 1965 French Spanish horror film. This was Jesús Franco's last black and white movie. I can't find this either dubbed or with English subtitles, and now the one I watched has been taken down, but I'm still looking....

How can you resist?


DVD Talk calls it "a decent little genre film" and says, "parts of it are executed quite brilliantly". Horrorpedia has some still shots. TCM has information.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

On the Gulls' Road

On the Gulls' Road is a 1908 short story by Willa Cather. You can read it online here or here. It begins,
It often happens that one or another of my friends stops before a red chalk drawing in my study and asks me where I ever found so lovely a creature. I have never told the story of that picture to any one, and the beautiful woman on the wall, until yesterday, in all these twenty years has spoken to no one but me. Yesterday a young painter, a countryman of mine, came to consult me on a matter of business, and upon seeing my drawing of Alexandra Ebbling, straightway forgot his errand. He examined the date upon the sketch and asked me, very earnestly, if I could tell him whether the lady were still living. When I answered him, he stepped back from the picture and said slowly:

"So long ago? She must have been very young. She was happy?"

"As to that, who can say -about any one of us?" I replied. "Out of all that is supposed to make for happiness, she had very little."

He shrugged his shoulders and turned away to the window, saying as he did so: "Well, there is very little use in troubling about anything, when we can stand here and look at her, and you can tell me that she has been dead all these years, and that she had very little."

We returned to the object of his visit, but when he bade me goodbye at the door his troubled gaze again went back to the drawing, and it was only by turning sharply about that he took his eyes away from her.

I went back to my study fire, and as the rain kept away less impetuous visitors, I had a long time in which to think of Mrs. Ebbling. I even got out the little box she gave me, which I had not opened for years, and when Mrs. Hemway brought my tea I had barely time to close the lid and defeat her disapproving gaze.

My young countryman's perplexity, as he looked at Mrs. Ebbling, had recalled to me the delight and pain she gave me when I was of his years. I sat looking at her face and trying to see it through his eyes—freshly, as I saw it first upon the deck of the Germania, twenty years ago. Was it her loveliness, I often ask myself, or her loneliness, or her simplicity, or was it merely my own youth? Was her mystery only that of the mysterious North out of which she came? I still feel that she was very different from all the beautiful and brilliant women I have known; as the night is different from the day, or as the sea is different from the land. But this is our story, as it comes back to me.
Listen to the Librivox recording of the story:

I've always enjoyed Cather's novels (my favorite is Death Comes for the Archbishop) but had never read any of her short stories before this.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Wagon Master

Wagon Master is a 1950 John Ford Western starring Ben Johnson, Joanne Dru, Harry Carey, Jr., Ward Bond, and Jim Thorpe.

This movie was the inspiration for the television series Wagon Train.

The Los Angeles Times calls it "The most laid-back and unpretentious of epics". IndieWire opens by saying, "One of John Ford’s personal favorites among his films, Wagon Master (1950) is a film of modest ambition and enormous charm." Chicago Reader concludes with this: "A masterpiece beyond question—but a masterpiece that never degenerates into pomposity or self-consciousness. It's American filmmaking at its finest and most eloquent."

DVD Talk says,
a simple and heartfelt cowboys 'n' settlers story with a gentle touch; Ford produced it himself and avoided having a big star so make the experience as pleasant as possible. Here's where we find out what kind of film John Ford makes when he has his way ... If you like "pure" westerns that showcase good horse riding and other cowboy skills, Wagon Master is a must-see title.
Empire Online calls it "utterly delightful, lyrical". Time Out says it's "A moral fable, but with a refreshing lack of rhetoric to its poetry." Rotten Tomatoes has an average critics score of 100%.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Rick Steves' The Story of Fascism

The Story of Fascism is a TV episode from Rick Steves. Rick Steves' site describes it:
In this one-hour special, Rick travels back a century to learn how fascism rose and then fell in Europe — taking millions of people with it. We'll trace fascism's history from its roots in the turbulent aftermath of World War I, when masses of angry people rose up, to the rise of charismatic leaders who manipulated that anger, the totalitarian societies they built, and the brutal measures they used to enforce their ideology. We'll see the horrific consequences: genocide and total war. And we'll be inspired by the stories of those who resisted. Along the way, we'll visit poignant sights throughout Europe relating to fascism, and talk with Europeans whose families lived through those times. Our goals: to learn from the hard lessons of 20th-century Europe, and to recognize that ideology in the 21st century.

Does any of this sound scarily familiar?

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Minnie Riperton

A month from today on July 12 is the anniversary of the death of Minnie Riperton in 1979. She was 31 years old when she died of breast cancer. It still shocks me when I realize how young she was. Her vocal range was remarkable.

Lovin' You (1975) is the song that most often comes to my mind when I hear her name:

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

The Nine Billion Names of God

The Nine Billion Names of God is a 1953 science fiction short story by Arthur C. Clarke. I still clearly remember the first time I read it. "Memorable" doesn't begin to describe it. You can read it online here or here. It begins,
“This is a slightly unusual request,” said Dr. Wagner, with what he hoped was commendable restraint. “As far as I know, it’s the first time anyone’s been asked to supply a Tibetan monastery with an Automatic Sequence Computer. I don’t wish to be inquisitive, but I should hardly have thought that your — ah — establishment had much use for such a machine. Could you explain just what you intend to do with it?”

“Gladly,” replied the lama, readjusting his silk robes and carefully putting away the slide rule he had been using for currency conversions. “Your Mark V Computer can carry out any routine mathematical operation involving up to ten digits. However, for our work we are interested in letters, not numbers. As we wish you to modify the output circuits, the machine will be printing words, not columns of figures.”

“I don’t quite understand....”

“This is a project on which we have been working for the last three centuries — since the lamasery was founded, in fact. It is somewhat alien to your way of thought, so I hope you will listen with an open mind while I explain it.”


“It is really quite simple. We have been compiling a list which shall contain all the possible names of God.”



Please join the weekly T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering. Share a drink in your blog post and link to the party. You'll get a warm welcome. My drink reference is in the first ATC below.



Lace or Pearls:







Random (not from a prompt):


Lesson learned this week: Using Mod Podge takes practice.