Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The Lady Confesses

The Lady Confesses is a 1945 film noir starring Hugh Beaumont. What's a gal to do when her husband-to-be's dead wife turns up very much alive?

On a lighter note, I offer Tea Time (1911):

by Helen Galloway McNicoll, who died on June 27, 1915, at the age of 35. Please join me for a cuppa at the weekly T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering.

Monday, June 29, 2020

The Story of a Summer

The Story of a Summer, or Journal Leaves from Chappaqua (1874), by Cecelia Cleveland, is described as "a simple record of a pleasant summer's residence at Chappaqua". I'm reading it to fulfill the non-fiction requirement for June. This is delightful! You can read it online here. It begins,
New York, May 28, 1873

Again at dear Chappaqua, after an absence of seven months. I have not the heart to journalize tonight, everything seems so sad and strange. What a year this has been—what bright anticipations, what overwhelming sorrow!

May 30.

I have just returned from a long ramble over the dear old place; first up to the new house so picturesquely placed upon a hill, and down through the woods to the cool pine grove and the flower-garden. Here I found a wilderness of purple and white lilacs, longing, I thought, for a friendly hand to gather them before they faded; dear little bright-eyed pansies, and scarlet and crimson flowering shrubs, a souvenir of travel in England, with sweet-scented violets striped blue and white, transplanted from Pickie's little garden at Turtle Bay long years ago.

Returning, I again climbed the hill, and unlocked the doors of the new house; that house built expressly for Aunt Mary's comfort, but which has never yet been occupied. Every convenience of the architect's art is to be found in this house, from the immense, airy bedroom, with its seven windows, intended for Aunt Mary, to a porte cochère to protect her against the inclemency of the weather upon returning from a drive. But this house, in the building of which she took so keen an interest, she was not destined to inhabit, although with that buoyancy of mind and tenacity to life that characterized her during her long years of weary illness, she contemplated being carried into it during the early days of last October, and even ordered fires to be lighted to carry off the dampness before she tried her new room. By much persuasion, however, she was induced to postpone her removal from day to day; and finally, as she grew weaker and weaker, she decided to abandon that plan, and journey to New York while she could. In two weeks more she had left us forever.

June 1.

Our first Sunday at Chappaqua. We have a little church for a next-door neighbor, in which services of different sects are held on alternate Sundays, the pulpit being hospitably open to all denominations excepting Papists. Three members of our little household, however—mamma, Marguerite, and I—belong to the grand old Church of Rome; so the carriage was ordered, and with our brother in religion, Bernard, the coachman, for a pioneer, we started to find a church or chapel of the Latin faith. At Mount Kisco, a little town four miles distant, Bernard thought we might hear Mass, "but then it's not the sort of church you ladies are used to," he added, apologetically; "it's a small chapel, and only rough working people go there."

I was quite amused at the idea that the presence of poor people was any objection, for is it not a source of pride to Catholics that their church is open alike to the humblest and richest; so with a suggestive word from Bernard, Gabrielle's spirited ponies flew

"Over the hills, and far away."

A perpetual ascent and descent it seemed—a dusty road, for we are sadly in want of rain, and few shade-trees border the road; but once in Mount Kisco, the novelty of the little chapel quite compensated for the disagreeable features of our journey there. A tiny chapel indeed—a plain frame building, with no pretence to architectural beauty. It was intended originally, I thought, for a Protestant meeting-house, as the cruciform shape, so conspicuous in all Catholic-built churches was wanting here. The whitewashed walls were hung with small, rude pictures, representing the Via Crucis or Stations of the Cross, and the altar-piece—not, I fancy, a remarkable work of art in its prime—had become so darkened by smoke, that I only conjectured its subject to be St. Francis in prayer.

Although it was Whit-Sunday the altar was quite innocent of ornament, having only six candles, and a floral display of two bouquets. The seats and kneeling-benches were uncushioned, and the congregation was composed, as Bernard said, entirely of the working class; but the people were very clean and respectable in their appearance, and fervent in their devotions as only the Irish peasantry can be.

The pastor, an intelligent young Irishman, apparently under thirty, had already said Mass at Pleasantville, six miles distant, and upon arriving at Mount Kisco he found that about twenty of his small congregation wished to receive Communion, as it was a festival; consequently, he spent the next hour not literally in the confessional, for there was none, but in the tiny closet dignified by the name of a vestry. From thence, the door being open, we could with ease, had we had nothing better to do, have heard all of the priest's advice to his penitents.

This ceremony over, the young Father came out in his black cassock, and taking up his vestments which lay upon the altar-steps, he proceeded with the utmost nonchalance to put them on, not hesitating to display a long rent in his surplice, and a decidedly ragged sleeve.

The Mass was a Low one, and the congregation were too poor to have an organ or organist. Quite a contrast to a Sunday at St. Stephen's or St. Francis Xavier's, but the Mass is always the same, however humble the surroundings.

There's a letter:


"DEAR SIR:—Sitting to-night 'all solitary and alone,' my mind has wandered back upon scenes that have past eleven years ago, though vivid now even as yesterday. It was about that time that I saw you first, and indeed saw you last.

"Little did I then dream that I beheld in that modest personage one who is now acknowledged as the 'distinguished and accomplished Horace Greeley.'

"You well remember your first visit to the South, I dare say. You cannot have forgotten many incidents that occurred at a little village of North Carolina, called Warrenton? No, there is one circumstance I feel assured you never can forget while memory lasts, and there are others to which I claim the right to call your attention: for instance, do you remember your first meeting with a certain Miss Cheney at the house of Squire Bragg, the father of Capt. Bragg, who lately distinguished himself at Monterey and Buena Vista? Do you now remember to whom you related the secret of your visit, who procured the parson, and what persons accompanied you to church, and then with your beautiful bride returned to breakfast? We saw you take the solemn vows, we witnessed the plighted betrothal, and when you bore away from us this prize, you also carried our best wishes that you might be ever blessed, and she be made always happy. May it not have been otherwise."

.… "I would, my dear sir, be pleased to hear from you, and to learn something of the results and changes which time has brought about in your own family.

"Be pleased to remember me to your sweet wife, and if there be any, or many little G———s, my kind regards to them also.

"Very respectfully,
which struck me because it is from Germantown, TN, which was founded in 1825 and incorporated in 1841. Germantown is a suburb of Memphis,

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Waiting for Godot (1961)

Waiting for Godot is the 1961 TV adaptation of Samuel Beckett's play. This stars Zero Mostel and Burgess Meredith. I liked the play when I first read it in high school and enjoyed watching this.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Everybody Must Stay Home

Everybody Must Stay Home a parody of Bob Dylan's Everybody Must Get Stoned:

There's a Memphis mention in the lyrics:
You can get it if you've got the Memphis blues.
You can get it if you've got nothin' to lose.
You can get it if your name is Abraham.
You can get it if you are the weather man.
Honey, I know that you're feelin' all alone,
But everybody must stay home.

Friday, June 26, 2020

The Longest Hunt

The Longest Hunt, also known as Shoot, Gringo, Shoot, is a 1968 spaghetti western starring Brian Kelly and Keenan Wynn.

Spaghetti-Western.net says,
This is the Spaghetti Western. The definitive example of the genre. It has a handsome yet mean anti-hero, a quick gunned pretty boy, comedy, saloon fights, Mexicans, twists, suspense, pretty women, and lots of shooting. Many would and will argue against this, probably opting for a Leone film to represent the genre. But Leone's films, no matter how good they are, are not really mainstream Spaghettis. They are longer, quieter, and more beautiful films and this is all mostly due to Leone's personal style. There are many different films and styles in the genre, but even if most are different than each other, they all have certain aspects seen in Eurowesterns with American elements thrown in. This film is purely Spaghetti.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Rule 42 of the Code

Clearly stated in the preface of The Hunting of the Snark:
The helmsman used to stand by with tears in his eyes; he knew it was all wrong, but alas! Rule 42 of the Code, “No one shall speak to the Man at the Helm,” had been completed by the Bellman himself with the words “and the Man at the Helm shall speak to no one.” So remonstrance was impossible, and no steering could be done till the next varnishing day. During these bewildering intervals the ship usually sailed backwards.
You can read the entire poem by Lewis Carroll online here.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

The Last Scout (2017)

The Last Scout is a 2017 science fiction thriller film about the post-nuclear holocaust scout ships sent to find a new home for humankind. You can watch it online at tubiTV or on Youtube.


SciFiHistory.net has a positive review. HorrorNews.net has a negative review.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

La Soupe

La Soupe:

by Albert Gleizes, who died on June 23, 1953. Please share a drink reference of some sort and join us for the T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering.


About the new Blogger interface:

I schedule posts. And by that I mean I have posts scheduled for months in advance, even years in advance for things like "42" posts where I only want one a month to appear. In the current Blogger I can easily go to the page of posts I want by toggling that function on the top right of the dashboard. That takes me to the page where my next scheduled post is. In new Blogger it looks like my only option is scrolling forever down the page until I finally reach the post scheduled for the next day. This will Not Do. I've sent feedback but don't have much hope that'll make a difference. I've forgotten what WordPress was like, but I'll be revisiting that option if old blogger doesn't remain available.

Does anyone else have this problem?

Monday, June 22, 2020

Sweeney Todd (2006)

Sweeney Todd is a 2006 drama starring Ray Winstone, Essie Davis, David Warner, and Tom Hardy. It is based on the Penny Dreadful villain in the 1800s. This is not the Tim Burton/Johnny Depp version. This version is not lighthearted or a musical but is quite sad and a tragic story. I watched it on Amazon Prime.


Sunday, June 21, 2020

International Yoga Day

I've loved yoga since I was in high school and continue doing it both because I love it and because it's good for my health. I have a series of poses I do every day shown on my blog here. I also like the videos online that have an entire yoga session in one video, and sometimes I use one of those instead. I've gotten to where I prefer video yoga sessions that are at least 30 minutes long.

This one is for beginners or senior adults and is 30 minutes long:

There are chair yoga options readily available if that's where you'd like to start. Here's one from the popular Yoga with Adriene Youtube channel:

Here's one from Yoga with Kassandra:

Many others are available using a chair yoga Google search.

I'd love to know if you do yoga.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Tarzan and the Amazons

Tarzan and the Amazons is a 1945 Johnny Weissmuller film. In this one Jane is re-cast and returns from England where she's been aiding the war effort. We have this as part of a set. I don't see it available free online. It can be rented, but why? So many movies, so little time...


Friday, June 19, 2020

A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain

A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain is a Pulitzer Prize-winning collection of short stories by Robert Olen Butler. Wikipedia says,
Each story in the collection is narrated by a different Vietnamese immigrant living in the US state of Louisiana. The stories are largely character-driven, with cultural differences between Vietnam and the United States as an important theme.
You can read one of the stories online here. Crickets begins,
They call me Ted where I work and they've called me that for over a đecade now and it still bothers me, though I'm not very happy about my real name being the same as the former President of the former Republic of Vietnam. Thiệu is not an uncommon name in my homeland and my mother had nothing more in mind than a long-dead uncle when she gave it to me. But in lake Charles, Louisiana, I am Ted. I guess the other Mr. Thiệu has enough of my former country's former gold bullion tucked away so that in London, where he probably wears a bowler and carries a rolled umbrella, nobody's calling him anything but Mr. Thiệu.

I hear myself sometimes and I sound pretty bitter, I guess. But I don't let that out at the refinery, where I'm the best chemical engineer they've got and they even admit it once in a while.

Thursday, June 18, 2020


Subarnarekha is a 1962 Bengali film that deals with the aftermath of the 1947 partition of India. It appears on several lists of greatest films.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Traces of Crime

Traces of Crime is an 1865 mystery story by Mary Fortune. You can read it online here. It begins,
THERE are many who recollect full well the rush at Chinaman's Flat. It was in the height of its prosperity that an assault was committed upon a female of a character so diabolical in itself, as to have aroused the utmost anxiety in the public as well as in the police, to punish the perpetrator thereof.

The case was placed in my hands, and as it presented difficulties so great as to appear to an ordinary observer almost insurmountable, the overcoming of which was likely to gain approbation in the proper quarter, I gladly accepted the task.

I had little to go upon at first. One dark night, in a tent in the very centre of a crowded thoroughfare, a female had been preparing to retire to rest, her husband being in the habit of remaining at the public-house until a late hour, when a man with a crêpe mask—who must have gained an earlier entrance—seized her, and in the prosecution of a criminal offence, had injured and abused the unfortunate woman so much that her life was despaired of. Although there was a light burning at the time, the woman was barely able to describe his general appearance; he appeared to her like a German, had no whiskers, fair hair, was low in stature, and stoutly built.

With one important exception, that was all the information she was able to give me on the subject. The exception, however, was a good deal to a detective, and I hoped might prove an invaluable aid to me. During the struggle she had torn the arm of the flannel shirt he wore, and was under a decided impression that upon the upper part of the criminal's arm there was a small anchor and heart tattooed.

Now, I was well aware that in this colony to find a man with a tattooed arm was an everyday affair, especially on the diggings, where, I dare say, there is scarcely a person with who has not come in contact more than once or twice with half a dozen men tattooed in the style I speak of—the anchor or heart, or both, being a favourite figure with those "gentlemen" who are in favour of branding. However, the clue was worth something, and even without its aid, not more than a couple of weeks had elapsed when, with the assistance of the local police, I had traced a man bearing in appearance a general resemblance to the man who had committed the offence, to a digging about seven miles from Chinaman's Flat.

It is unnecessary that I should relate every particular as to how my suspicions were directed to this man, who did not live on Chinaman's Flat, and to all appearances, had not left the diggings where he was camped since he first commenced working there. I say "to all appearances," for it was with a certain knowledge that he had been absent from his tent on the night of the outrage that I one evening trudged down the flat where his tent was pitched, with my swag on my back, and sat down on a log not far from where he had kindled a fire for culinary or other purposes.

These diggings I will call McAdam's. It was a large and flourishing goldfield, and on the flat where my man was camped there were several other tents grouped, so that it was nothing singular that I should look about for a couple of bushes, between which I might swing my little bit of canvas for the night.

After I had fastened up the rope, and thrown my tent over it in regular digger fashion, I broke down some bushes to form my bed, and having spread thereon my blankets, went up to my man— whom I shall in future call "Bill"—to request permission to boil my billy on his fire.

It was willingly granted, and so I lighted my pipe and sat down to await the boiling of the water, determined if I could so manage it to get this suspected man to accept me as a mate before I lay down that night.

Bill was also engaged in smoking, and had not, of course, the slightest suspicion that in the rough, ordinary looking digger before him he was contemplating the "make-up" of a Victorian detective, who had already made himself slightly talked of among his comrades by one or two clever captures.

"Where did you come from mate?" inquired Bill, as he puffed away leisurely at a cutty.

"From Burnt Creek," I replied, "and a long enough road it is in such d–—hot weather as this."

"Nothing doing at Burnt Creek?"

"Not a thing—the place is cooked."

"Are you in for a try here, then?" he asked, rather eagerly I thought.

"Well, I think so; is there any chance do you think?"

"Have you got a miner's right?" was his sudden question.

"I have," said I taking it out of my pocket, and handing the bit of parchment for his inspection.

"Are you a hatter?" inquired Bill, as he returned the document.

"I am," was my reply.

"Well, if you have no objections then, I don't mind going mates with you—I've got a pretty fair prospect, and the ground's going to run rather deep for one man, I think."

"All right."

So here was the very thing I wanted, settled without the slightest trouble.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Story of Your Life

Story of Your Life is a 1998 award-winning novella by Ted Chiang. You can read it online here. It begins,
Your father is about to ask me the question. This is the most important moment in our lives, and I want to pay attention, note every detail. Your dad and I have just come back from an evening out, dinner and a show; it’s after midnight. We came out onto the patio to look at the full moon; then I told your dad I wanted to dance, so he humors me and now we’re slow-dancing, a pair of thirtysomethings swaying back and forth in the moon-light like kids. I don’t feel the night chill at all. And then your dad says, “Do you want to make a baby?” Right now your dad and I have been married for about two years, living on Ellis Avenue; when we move out you’ll still be too young to remember the house, but we’ll show you pictures of it, tell you stories about it. I’d love to tell you the story of this evening, the night you’re conceived, but the right time to do that would be when you’re ready to have children of your own, and we’ll never get that chance.
The story was adapted for the film Arrival, which is one of my favorite science fiction movies.


Join me for a cup of espresso?

I'll be linking this post at the T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering.

Monday, June 15, 2020

The Parasite

The Parasite is a 1953 short story by Arthur C. Clarke, a brilliant and influential man. You can read the story online here. You can have it read to you at the bottom of the post. It begins,
"There is nothing you can do," said Connolly, nothing at all. Why did you have to follow me?" He was standing with his back to Pearson, staring out across the calm, blue waters that led to Italy. On the left, behind the anchored fishing fleet, the sun was setting in Mediterranean splendor, incarnadining land and sky. But neither man was even remotely aware of the beauty all around us.

Pearson rose to his feet and came forward out of the cafe's shadowed porch, into the slanting sunlight. He joined Connolly by the cliff wall but was careful not to come too close to him. Even in normal times Connolly disliked being touched... "

Sunday, June 14, 2020

5 Centimeters Per Second

5 Centimeters Per Second is a 2007 award-winning Japanese animated film. Barely over an hour long, this sweet film is worth watching. The story involves two young people during their lives from the 1990s-2008.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Strange Event in the Life of Schalken the Painter

Strange Event in the Life of Schalken the Painter is an 1839 story by Sheridan Le Fanu. You can read it online here. It begins,
You will no doubt be surprised, my dear friend, at the subject of the following narrative. What had I to do with Schalken, or Schalken with me? He had returned to his native land, and was probably dead and buried, before I was born; I never visited Holland nor spoke with a native of that country. So much I believe you already know. I must, then, give you my authority, and state to you frankly the ground upon which rests the credibility of the strange story which I am, about to lay before you.

I was acquainted, in my early days, with a Captain Vandael, whose father had served King William in the Low Countries, and also in my own unhappy land during the Irish campaigns. I know not how it happened that I liked this man’s society, spite of his politics and religion: but so it was; and it was by means of the free intercourse to which our intimacy gave rise that I became possessed of the curious tale which you are about to hear.

I had often been struck, while visiting Vandael, by a remarkable picture, in which, though no connoisseur myself, I could not fail to discern some very strong peculiarities, particularly in the distribution of light and shade, as also a certain oddity in the design itself, which interested my curiosity. It represented the interior of what might be a chamber in some antique religious building — the foreground was occupied by a female figure, arrayed in a species of white robe, part of which is arranged so as to form a veil. The dress, however, is not strictly that of any religious order. In its hand the figure bears a lamp, by whose light alone the form and face are illuminated; the features are marked by an arch smile, such as pretty women wear when engaged in successfully practising some roguish trick; in the background, and, excepting where the dim red light of an expiring fire serves to define the form, totally in the shade, stands the figure of a man equipped in the old fashion, with doublet and so forth, in an attitude of alarm, his hand being placed upon the hilt of his sword, which he appears to be in the act of drawing.

‘There are some pictures,’ said I to my friend, ‘which impress one, I know not how, with a conviction that they represent not the mere ideal shapes and combinations which have floated through the imagination of the artist, but scenes, faces, and situations which have actually existed. When I look upon that picture, something assures me that I behold the representation of a reality.’

Vandael smiled, and, fixing his eyes upon the painting musingly, he said:

‘Your fancy has not deceived you, my good friend, for that picture is the record, and I believe a faithful one, of a remarkable and mysterious occurrence. It was painted by Schalken, and contains, in the face of the female figure, which occupies the most prominent place in the design, an accurate portrait of Rose Velderkaust, the niece of Gerard Douw, the first and, I believe, the only love of Godfrey Schalken. My father knew the painter well, and from Schalken himself he learned the story of the mysterious drama, one scene of which the picture has embodied. This painting, which is accounted a fine specimen of Schalken’s style, was bequeathed to my father by the artist’s will, and, as you have observed, is a very striking and interesting production.
It was adapted for television as part of the "ghost story for Christmas" tradition for BBC in 1979 as an episode of Omnibus. I can't find it available to watch.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Dead Man's Burden

Dead Man's Burden is a 2012 western. This is a traditionally-styled western, with landscape serving as a character all its own. You'll feel like you know these people before you're done, and you'll wish there was a way besides tragedy before them. You can watch it online at TubiTV here or embedded below:

Slant Magazine says, "It’s always a pleasure to encounter genre ambition contained in such a sinewy-shot, emotionally resonant, and gorgeously photographed package." The Village Voice calls it a "confident debut". Paste Magazine has a positive review.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

The Two Drovers

The Two Drovers is an 1827 short story by Sir Walter Scott. It is from the Chronicles of Canongate collection. This particular story was included in a 1927 Funk and Wagnalls 10-volume set titled The World’s One Hundred Best Short Stories in the volume labeled Ghosts. There are no ghosts here but only an old woman who predicts a violent end. You can read it online here. It begins,
It was the day after Doune Fair when my story commences. It had been a brisk market. Several dealers had attended from the northern and midland counties in England, and English money had flown so merrily about as to gladden the hearts of the Highland farmers. Many large droves were about to set off for England, under the protection of their owners, or of the topsmen whom they employed in the tedious, laborious, and responsible office of driving the cattle for many hundred miles, from the market where they had been purchased, to the fields or farmyards where they were to be fattened for the shambles.

The Highlanders in particular are masters of this difficult trade of driving, which seems to suit them as well as the trade of war. It affords exercise for all their habits of patient endurance and active exertion. They are required to know perfectly the drove- roads, which lie over the wildest tracts of the country, and to avoid as much as possible the highways, which distress the feet of the bullocks, and the turnpikes, which annoy the spirit of the drover; whereas on the broad green or grey track which leads across the pathless moor, the herd not only move at ease and
without taxation, but, if they mind their business, may pick up a mouthful of food by the way. At night the drovers usually sleep along with their cattle, let the weather be what it will; and many of these hardy men do not once rest under a roof during a journey on foot from Lochaber to Lincolnshire. They are paid very highly, for the trust reposed is of the last importance, as it depends on their prudence, vigilance, and honesty whether the cattle reach the final market in good order, and afford a profit to the grazier. But as they maintain themselves at their own
expense, they are especially economical in that particular. At the period we speak of, a Highland drover was victualled for his long and toilsome journey with a few handfulls of oatmeal and two or three onions, renewed from time to time, and a ram's horn filled with whisky, which he used regularly, but sparingly, every night and morning. His dirk, or SKENE-DHU, (that is, black- knife), so worn as to be concealed beneath the arm, or by the folds of the plaid, was his only weapon, excepting the cudgel with which he directed the movements of the cattle. A Highlander was never so happy as on these occasions. There was a variety in the whole journey, which exercised the Celt's natural curiosity and love of motion. There were the constant change of place and scene, the petty adventures incidental to the traffic, and the intercourse with the various farmers, graziers, and traders, intermingled with occasional merry-makings, not the less acceptable to Donald that they were void of expense. And there was the consciousness of superior skill; for the Highlander, a child amongst flocks, is a prince amongst herds, and his natural habits induce him to disdain the shepherd's slothful life, so that he feels himself nowhere more at home than when following a gallant drove of his country cattle in the character of their guardian.

Of the number who left Doune in the morning, and with the purpose we have described, not a GLUNAMIE of them all cocked his bonnet more briskly, or gartered his tartan hose under knee over a pair of more promising SPIOGS, (legs), than did Robin Oig M'Combich, called familiarly Robin Oig, that is young, or the Lesser, Robin. Though small of stature, as the epithet Oig implies, and not very strongly limbed, he was as light and alert as one of the deer of his mountains. He had an elasticity of step which, in the course of a long march, made many a stout fellow envy him; and the manner in which he busked his plaid and adjusted his bonnet argued a consciousness that so smart a John Highlandman as himself would not pass unnoticed among the Lowland lasses. The ruddy cheek, red lips, and white teeth set off a countenance which had gained by exposure to the weather a healthful and hardy rather than a rugged hue. If Robin Oig did not laugh, or even smile frequently -as, indeed, is not the practice among his countrymen -his bright eyes usually gleamed from under his bonnet with an expression of cheerfulness ready to be turned into mirth.

The departure of Robin Oig was an incident in the little town, in and near which he had many friends, male and female. He was a topping person in his way, transacted considerable business on his own behalf, and was entrusted by the best farmers in the Highlands, in preference to any other drover in that district. He might have increased his business to any extent had he condescended to manage it by deputy; but except a lad or two, sister's sons of his own, Robin rejected the idea of assistance, conscious, perhaps, how much his reputation depended upon his attending in person to the practical discharge of his duty in every instance. He remained, therefore, contented with the highest premium given to persons of his description, and comforted himself with the hopes that a few journeys to England might enable him to conduct business on his own account, in a manner becoming his birth. For Robin Oig's father, Lachlan M'Combich (or SON OF MY FRIEND, his actual clan surname being M'Gregor), had been so called by the celebrated Rob Roy, because of the particular friendship which had subsisted between the grandsire of Robin and that renowned cateran. Some people even said that Robin Oig derived his Christian name from one as renowned in the wilds of Loch Lomond as ever was his namesake Robin Hood in the precincts of merry Sherwood. "Of such ancestry," as James Boswell says, "who would not be proud?" Robin Oig was proud accordingly; but his frequent visits to England and to the Lowlands had given him tact enough to know that pretensions which still gave him a little right to distinction in his own lonely glen, might be both obnoxious and ridiculous if preferred elsewhere. The pride of birth, therefore, was like the miser's treasure -the secret subject of his contemplation, but never exhibited to strangers as a subject of boasting.

Many were the words of gratulation and good-luck which were bestowed on Robin Oig. The judges commended his drove, especially Robin's own property, which were the best of them. Some thrust out their snuff-mulls for the parting pinch, others tendered the DOCH-AN-DORRACH, or parting cup. All cried, "Good-luck travel out with you and come home with you. Give you luck in the Saxon market--brave notes in the LEABHAR-DHU," (black
pocket-book), "and plenty of English gold in the SPORRAN" (pouch of goat-skin).

The bonny lasses made their adieus more modestly, and more than one, it was said, would have given her best brooch to be certain that it was upon her that his eye last rested as he turned towards the road.

Robin Oig had just given the preliminary "HOO-HOO!" to urge forward the loiterers of the drove, when there was a cry behind him: -

"Stay, Robin -bide a blink. Here is Janet of Tomahourich -auld Janet, your father's sister."

"Plague on her, for an auld Highland witch and spaewife," said a farmer from the Carse of Stirling; "she'll cast some of her cantrips on the cattle."

"She canna do that," said another sapient of the same profession. "Robin Oig is no the lad to leave any of them without tying Saint Mungo's knot on their tails, and that will put to her speed the best witch that ever flew over Dimayet upon a broomstick."

It may not be indifferent to the reader to know that the Highland cattle are peculiarly liable to be TAKEN, or infected, by spells and witchcraft, which judicious people guard against by knitting knots of peculiar complexity on the tuft of hair which terminates the animal's tail.

But the old woman who was the object of the farmer's suspicion seemed only busied about the drover, without paying any attention to the drove. Robin, on the contrary, appeared rather impatient of her presence.

"What auld-world fancy," he said, "has brought you so early from the ingle-side this morning, Muhme? l am sure I bid you good-even, and had your God-speed, last night."

"And left me more siller than the useless old woman will use till you come back again, bird of my bosom," said the sibyl. "But it is little I would care for the food that nourishes me, or the fire that warms me, or for God's blessed sun itself, if aught but weel should happen to the grandson of my father. So let me walk the DEASIL round you, that you may go safe out into the far foreign land, and come safe home."

Robin Oig stopped, half embarrassed, half laughing, and signing to those around that he only complied with the old woman to soothe her humour. In the meantime, she traced around him, with wavering steps, the propitiation, which some have thought has been derived from the Druidical mythology. It consists, as is well known, in the person who makes the DEASIL walking three times round the person who is the object of the ceremony, taking care to move according to the course of the sun. At once, however, she stopped short, and exclaimed, in a voice of alarm and horror, "Grandson of my father, there is blood on your hand."
You can listen to the story here:

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Cheyenne Autumn

Cheyenne Autumn is a 1964 epic western film directed by John Ford and starring Richard Widmark, Carroll Baker, James Stewart, Edward G. Robinson, Dolores del Río, Ricardo Montalbán, Karl Malden, Sal Mineo, Arthur Kennedy, and John Carradine. This one is 2 1/2 hours long, so get a snack and get comfortable, but it's worth watching. And that cast and director! How can you not?

You can watch it online at this link. (not any more the video has been blocked.)


Emanuel Levy says,
The lack of a distinct Indian perspective may be the reason why this work cannot be taken either as the final statement on what Ford thinks of Indians or as an apology for his former movies. Even so, for a movie made in l964, the attitude toward Native Americans is more liberal than other Hollywood movies of the time.

DVD Talk quotes another reviewer as saying, " Ford could sympathize with the Indians but wasn't capable of presenting them as anything more than stiff symbols".  NativeAmerican.co.uk has a review. TCM has information.

Tuesday, June 09, 2020

Supernatural (1933)

Supernatural is a 1933 pre-code supernatural horror film starring Carole Lombard and Randolph Scott. It's barely over an hour long and includes murder, a woman who is not crazy -no not at all- a seance, possession, pearls, a yacht, and of course a happy ending. A little mindless fun. You can watch it online here.

She's offering you a drink:

I think I'll have a cup of coffee instead. Please join me at the weekly T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering.


No ATCs for me this week. I've been immersed in the current protest movement, soaking in the stories I see on Twitter and amplifying those voices in my FB feed. We need foundational and structural change; but we've needed that for longer than I've been alive, and I've no hope we'll get it now. I reflect on these words from 1968 with deep sadness:
“I read that report … of the 1919 riot in Chicago, and it is as if I were reading the report of the investigating committee on the Harlem riot of ’35, the report of the investigating committee on the Harlem riot of ’43, the report of the McCone Commission on the Watts riot…. I must again in candor say to you members of this Commission – it is a kind of Alice in Wonderland – with the same moving picture re-shown over and over again, the same analysis, the same recommendations, and the same inaction.” -Kenneth Clarke, social scientist
and here we are again.

Monday, June 08, 2020

Tarzan's Desert Mystery

Tarzan's Desert Mystery is a 1943 Johnny Weissmuller film. The film revolves around Tarzan's quest to find a rare African fever medicine to help Allied troops during World War II. Again, the propaganda nature of these WW2-era films does not engage me, and I only watched it for Weissmuller. I can't find it online right now, but I don't hurt for your loss.


Sunday, June 07, 2020

Mrs. Bullfrog

Mrs. Bullfrog is an 1837 short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Quite a funny look at the beginnings of what will I'm sure be a long and happy marriage. The ending will bring a laugh, or it did for me. You can read it here or here. You can have it read to you at the bottom of the post. It begins,
It makes me melancholy to see how like fools some very sensible people act in the matter of choosing wives. They perplex their judgments by a most undue attention to little niceties of personal appearance, habits, disposition, and other trifles which concern nobody but the lady herself. An unhappy gentleman, resolving to wed nothing short of perfection, keeps his heart and hand till both get so old and withered that no tolerable woman will accept them. Now this is the very height of absurdity. A kind Providence has so skilfully adapted sex to sex and the mass of individuals to each other, that, with certain obvious exceptions, any male and female may be moderately happy in the married state. The true rule is to ascertain that the match is fundamentally a good one, and then to take it for granted that all minor objections, should there be such, will vanish, if you let them alone. Only put yourself beyond hazard as to the real basis of matrimonial bliss, and it is scarcely to be imagined what miracles, in the way of recognizing smaller incongruities, connubial love will effect.

For my own part I freely confess that, in my bachelorship, I was precisely such an over-curious simpleton as I now advise the reader not to be. My early habits had gifted me with a feminine sensibility and too exquisite refinement. I was the accomplished graduate of a dry goods store, where, by dint of ministering to the whims of fine ladies, and suiting silken hose to delicate limbs, and handling satins, ribbons, chintzes calicoes, tapes, gauze, and cambric needles, I grew up a very ladylike sort of a gentleman. It is not assuming too much to affirm that the ladies themselves were hardly so ladylike as Thomas Bullfrog. So painfully acute was my sense of female imperfection, and such varied excellence did I require in the woman whom I could love, that there was an awful risk of my getting no wife at all, or of being driven to perpetrate matrimony with my own image in the looking-glass. Besides the fundamental principle already hinted at, I demanded the fresh bloom of youth, pearly teeth, glossy ringlets, and the whole list of lovely items, with the utmost delicacy of habits and sentiments, a silken texture of mind, and, above all, a virgin heart. In a word, if a young angel just from paradise, yet dressed in earthly fashion, had come and offered me her hand, it is by no means certain that I should have taken it. There was every chance of my becoming a most miserable old bachelor, when, by the best luck in the world, I made a journey into another state, and was smitten by, and smote again, and wooed, won, and married, the present Mrs. Bullfrog, all in the space of a fortnight. Owing to these extempore measures, I not only gave my bride credit for certain perfections which have not as yet come to light, but also overlooked a few trifling defects, which, however, glimmered on my perception long before the close of the honeymoon. Yet, as there was no mistake about the fundamental principle aforesaid, I soon learned, as will be seen, to estimate Mrs. Bullfrog's deficiencies and superfluities at exactly their proper value.

The same morning that Mrs. Bullfrog and I came together as a unit, we took two seats in the stage-coach and began our journey towards my place of business. There being no other passengers, we were as much alone and as free to give vent to our raptures as if I had hired a hack for the matrimonial jaunt. My bride looked charmingly in a green silk calash and riding habit of pelisse cloth; and whenever her red lips parted with a smile, each tooth appeared like an inestimable pearl. Such was my passionate warmth that—we had rattled out of the village, gentle reader, and were lonely as Adam and Eve in paradise—I plead guilty to no less freedom than a kiss. The gentle eye of Mrs. Bullfrog scarcely rebuked me for the profanation. Emboldened by her indulgence, I threw back the calash from her polished brow, and suffered my fingers, white and delicate as her own, to stray among those dark and glossy curls which realized my daydreams of rich hair.

"My love," said Mrs. Bullfrog tenderly, "you will disarrange my curls."

"Oh, no, my sweet Laura!" replied I, still playing with the glossy ringlet. "Even your fair hand could not manage a curl more delicately than mine. I propose myself the pleasure of doing up your hair in papers every evening at the same time with my own."

"Mr. Bullfrog," repeated she, "you must not disarrange my curls."

This was spoken in a more decided tone than I had happened to hear, until then, from my gentlest of all gentle brides. At the same time she put up her hand and took mine prisoner; but merely drew it away from the forbidden ringlet, and then immediately released it. Now, I am a fidgety little man, and always love to have something in my fingers; so that, being debarred from my wife's curls, I looked about me for any other plaything. On the front seat of the coach there was one of those small baskets in which travelling ladies who are too delicate to appear at a public table generally carry a supply of gingerbread, biscuits and cheese, cold ham, and other light refreshments, merely to sustain nature to the journey's end. Such airy diet will sometimes keep them in pretty good flesh for a week together. Laying hold of this same little basket, I thrust my hand under the newspaper with which it was carefully covered.

"What's this, my dear?" cried I; for the black neck of a bottle had popped out of the basket.

"A bottle of Kalydor, Mr. Bullfrog," said my wife, coolly taking the basket from my hands and replacing it on the front seat.

Saturday, June 06, 2020

Hamlet (1970)

Hamlet is a 1970 Hallmark Hall of Fame adaptation of the Shakespeare play. It stars Richard Chamberlain as Hamlet and Michael Redgrave as Polonius.

If you're wondering why you should bother with Shakespeare:

Friday, June 05, 2020

If You Sing Like That For Me

If You Sing Like That For Me is a short story by Akhil Sharma. You can read it online here. It begins,
Late one June afternoon, seven months after my wedding, I woke from a short, deep sleep, in love with my husband. I did not know then, lying in bed and looking out the window at the line of gray clouds, that my love would last only a few hours and that I would never again care for Rajinder with the same urgency — never again in the five homes we would share and through the two daughters and one son we would also share, though unevenly and with great bitterness. I did not know this then, suddenly awake and only twenty-six, with a husband not much older, nor did I know that the memory of the coming hours would periodically overwhelm me throughout my life.

Thursday, June 04, 2020

Terror-Creatures from the Grave

Terror-Creatures from the Grave is a 1965 Italian/U.S. co-production starring the great Barbara Steele as the recent widow.

HorrorNews.net describes it:
Set in 1913, a lawyer receives a letter to come to a lonely castle to record the will of a dying man. Arriving there he finds out that his new client is already dead and only his beautiful widow and daughter from his first marriage are living there. As this movie is actually a murder mystery and a zombie flick thrown together, the plot twists and turns to keep both lines going.
Horrorpedia has screenshots, a trailer, and excerpts from reviews

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Madam White Snake

Madam White Snake is a 1960 South Korean film based on the Chinese legend. I like old folk tales and legends and enjoy seeing them adapted for film.

I offer this particular scene as my connection to the weekly T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering:



Monday, June 01, 2020

Two Kinds

Two Kinds is a 1989 short story by Amy Tan, part of the book The Joy Luck Club. You can have it read to you at the bottom of this post. You can read it online here. It begins,
My mother believed you could be anything you wanted to be in America. You could open a restaurant. You could work for the government and get good retirement. You could buy a house with almost no money down. You could become rich. You could become instantly famous.

"Of course, you can be a prodigy, too," my mother told me when I was nine. "You can be best anything. What does Auntie Lindo know? Her daughter, she is only best tricky."

America was where all my mother's hopes lay. She had come to San Francisco in 1949 after losing everything in China: her mother and father, her home, her first husband, and two daughters, twin baby girls. But she never looked back with regret. Things could get better in so many ways.