Friday, July 31, 2020

The Lerouge Case

Émile Gaboriau (1832 - 1873), french novelist, one of the first crime fiction writers

The Lerouge Case is an 1866 detective novel by Émile Gaboriau, the first detective novel he wrote. I'm surprised some of these old detectives have fallen into obscurity while others -I'm looking at you, Sherlock Holmes- continue to capture the public imagination. This is a fine tale, with interesting characters and a plot that will hold your attention. According to Wikipedia, it
introduced an amateur detective. It also introduced a young police officer named Monsieur Lecoq, who was the hero in three of Gaboriau's later detective novels. The character of Lecoq was based on a real-life thief turned police officer, Eugène François Vidocq (1775–1857), whose own memoirs, Les Vrais Mémoires de Vidocq, mixed fiction and fact...
You can read it online here. It begins,

On Thursday, the 6th of March, 1862, two days after Shrove Tuesday, five women belonging to the village of La Jonchere presented themselves at the police station at Bougival.

They stated that for two days past no one had seen the Widow Lerouge, one of their neighbours, who lived by herself in an isolated cottage. They had several times knocked at the door, but all in vain. The window-shutters as well as the door were closed; and it was impossible to obtain even a glimpse of the interior.

This silence, this sudden disappearance alarmed them. Apprehensive of a crime, or at least of an accident, they requested the interference of the police to satisfy their doubts by forcing the door and entering the house.

Bougival is a pleasant riverside village, peopled on Sundays by crowds of boating parties. Trifling offences are frequently heard of in its neighbourhood, but crimes are rare.

The commissary of police at first refused to listen to the women, but their importunities so fatigued him that he at length acceded to their request. He sent for the corporal of gendarmes, with two of his men, called into requisition the services of a locksmith, and, thus accompanied, followed the neighbours of the Widow Lerouge.

La Jonchere owes some celebrity to the inventor of the sliding railway, who for some years past has, with more enterprise than profit, made public trials of his system in the immediate neighbourhood. It is a hamlet of no importance, resting upon the slope of the hill which overlooks the Seine between La Malmaison and Bougival. It is about twenty minutes’ walk from the main road, which, passing by Rueil and Port-Marly, goes from Paris to St. Germain, and is reached by a steep and rugged lane, quite unknown to the government engineers.

The party, led by the gendarmes, followed the main road which here bordered the river until it reached this lane, into which it turned, and stumbled over the rugged inequalities of the ground for about a hundred yards, when it arrived in front of a cottage of extremely modest yet respectable appearance. This cottage had probably been built by some little Parisian shopkeeper in love with the beauties of nature; for all the trees had been carefully cut down. It consisted merely of two apartments on the ground floor with a loft above. Around it extended a much-neglected garden, badly protected against midnight prowlers, by a very dilapidated stone wall about three feet high, and broken and crumbling in many places. A light wooden gate, clumsily held in its place by pieces of wire, gave access to the garden.

“It is here,” said the women.

The commissary stopped. During his short walk, the number of his followers had been rapidly increasing, and now included all the inquisitive and idle persons of the neighbourhood. He found himself surrounded by about forty individuals burning with curiosity.

“No one must enter the garden,” said he; and, to ensure obedience, he placed the two gendarmes on sentry before the entrance, and advanced towards the house, accompanied by the corporal and the locksmith.

He knocked several times loudly with his leaded cane, first at the door, and then successively at all the window shutters. After each blow, he placed his ear against the wood and listened. Hearing nothing, he turned to the locksmith.

“Open!” said he.

The workman unstrapped his satchel, and produced his implements. He had already introduced a skeleton key into the lock, when a loud exclamation was heard from the crowd outside the gate.

“The key!” they cried. “Here is the key!”

A boy about twelve years old playing with one of his companions, had seen an enormous key in a ditch by the roadside; he had picked it up and carried it to the cottage in triumph.

“Give it to me youngster,” said the corporal. “We shall see.”

The key was tried, and it proved to be the key of the house.

The commissary and the locksmith exchanged glances full of sinister misgivings. “This looks bad,” muttered the corporal. They entered the house, while the crowd, restrained with difficulty by the gendarmes, stamped with impatience, or leant over the garden wall, stretching their necks eagerly, to see or hear something of what was passing within the cottage.

Those who anticipated the discovery of a crime, were unhappily not deceived. The commissary was convinced of this as soon as he crossed the threshold. Everything in the first room pointed with a sad eloquence to the recent presence of a malefactor. The furniture was knocked about, and a chest of drawers and two large trunks had been forced and broken open.

In the inner room, which served as a sleeping apartment, the disorder was even greater. It seemed as though some furious hand had taken a fiendish pleasure in upsetting everything. Near the fireplace, her face buried in the ashes, lay the dead body of Widow Lerouge. All one side of the face and the hair were burnt; it seemed a miracle that the fire had not caught her clothing.

“Wretches!” exclaimed the corporal. “Could they not have robbed, without assassinating the poor woman?”

“But where has she been wounded?” inquired the commissary, “I do not see any blood.”

“Look! here between the shoulders,” replied the corporal; “two fierce blows, by my faith. I’ll wager my stripes she had no time to cry out.”

He stooped over the corpse and touched it.

“She is quite cold,” he continued, “and it seems to me that she is no longer very stiff. It is at least thirty-six hours since she received her death-blow.”

The commissary began writing, on the corner of a table, a short official report.

“We are not here to talk, but to discover the guilty,” said he to the corporal. “Let information be at once conveyed to the justice of the peace, and the mayor, and send this letter without delay to the Palais de Justice. In a couple of hours, an investigating magistrate can be here. In the meanwhile, I will proceed to make a preliminary inquiry.”

“Shall I carry the letter?” asked the corporal of gendarmes.

“No, send one of your men; you will be useful to me here in keeping these people in order, and in finding any witnesses I may want. We must leave everything here as it is. I will install myself in the other room.”

A gendarme departed at a run towards the station at Rueil; and the commissary commenced his investigations in regular form, as prescribed by law.

“Who was Widow Lerouge? Where did she come from? What did she do? Upon what means, and how did she live? What were her habits, her morals, and what sort of company did she keep? Was she known to have enemies? Was she a miser? Did she pass for being rich?”

The commissary knew the importance of ascertaining all this: but although the witnesses were numerous enough, they possessed but little information. The depositions of the neighbours, successively interrogated, were empty, incoherent, and incomplete. No one knew anything of the victim, who was a stranger in the country. Many presented themselves as witnesses moreover, who came forward less to afford information than to gratify their curiosity. A gardener’s wife, who had been friendly with the deceased, and a milk-woman with whom she dealt, were alone able to give a few insignificant though precise details.

In a word, after three hours of laborious investigation, after having undergone the infliction of all the gossip of the country, after receiving evidence the most contradictory, and listened to commentaries the most ridiculous, the following is what appeared the most reliable to the commissary.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

The Last Starship

The Last Starship is a 2016 science fiction film. You can watch it free at tubitv or Crackle or Amazon Prime. Give it a chance if you like science fiction.


Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Slip Away

Slip Away:

James Govan at the Rum Boogie Cafe on Beale Street in Memphis TN. He was a frequent performer there. He was 64 when he died on July 18, 2014.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Outward Bound

Outward Bound is a 1930 fantasy drama starring Leslie Howard (in his first feature-length sound film) and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. This is a touching and encouraging film. I watched it online but can't find it now. It's quite frustrating when a movie like this is still under copyright and unavailable for viewing. I don't understand it.

This trailer will give you a taste:

This screenshot from the film has a drink on the table as these two share a moment:

Today is the day for the T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering. I've been out of town for several days and am so far behind I'll never catch up, so I'm not sharing my link there. See y'all next week if not before.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Lazarus Laughed

The Resurrection of Lazarus. Byzantine icon, late 14th – early 15th century

Lazarus Laughed is a 1925 play by Eugene O'Neill. Generally, I much prefer seeing a play performed to reading it. O'Neill is an exception. I discovered his plays in high school and read what was available in our school's library with great enjoyment.

from Wikipedia: " It is a long theo-philosophical meditation with more than a hundred actors making up a masked chorus. In theatrical format, Lazarus Laughed appears to be a Greek tragedy. But the underlying message is similar to the mystery plays from the Middle Ages." It has never been filmed and is only rarely performed. You can read this one online here. It begins,
Lazarus Laughed



SCENE--Exterior and interior of Lazarus' home at Bethany. The main room at the front end of the house is shown--a long, low-ceilinged, sparely furnished chamber, with white walls gray in the fading daylight that enters from three small windows at the left. To the left of center several long tables placed lengthwise to the width of the room, around which many chairs for guests have been placed. In the rear wall, right, a door leading into the rest of the house. On the left, a doorway opening on a road where a crowd of men has gathered. On the right, another doorway leading to the yard where there is a crowd of women.

Inside the house, on the men's side, seven male Guests are grouped by the door, watching Lazarus with frightened awe, talking hesitantly in low whispers. The Chorus of Old Men, seven in number, is drawn up in a crescent, in the far corner, right, facing Lazarus.

(All of these people are masked in accordance with the following scheme: There are seven periods of life shown: Boyhood [or Girlhood], Youth, Young Manhood [or Womanhood], Manhood [or Womanhood], Middle Age, Maturity and Old Age; and each of these periods is represented by seven different masks of general types of character as follows: The Simple, Ignorant; the Happy, Eager; the Self-Tortured, Introspective; the Proud, Self-Reliant; the Servile, Hypocritical; the Revengeful, Cruel; the Sorrowful, Resigned. Thus in each crowd [this includes among the men the Seven Guests who are composed of one male of each period-type as period one--type one, period two--type two, and so on up to period seven--type seven] there are forty-nine different combinations of period and type. Each type has a distinct predominant color for its costumes which varies in kind according to its period. The masks of the Chorus of Old Men are double the size of the others. They are all seven in the Sorrowful, Resigned type of Old Age.)

On a raised platform at the middle of the one table placed lengthwise at center sits Lazarus, his head haloed and his body illumined by a soft radiance as of tiny phosphorescent flames.

Lazarus, freed now from the fear of death, wears no mask.

In appearance Lazarus is tall and powerful, about fifty years of age, with a mass of gray-black hair and a heavy beard. His face recalls that of a statue of a divinity of Ancient Greece in its general structure and particularly in its quality of detached serenity. It is dark-complected, ruddy and brown, the color of rich earth upturned by the plow, calm but furrowed deep with the marks of former suffering endured with a grim fortitude that had never softened into resignation. His forehead is broad and noble, his eyes black and deep-set. Just now he is staring straight before him as if his vision were still fixed beyond life.

Kneeling beside him with bowed heads are his wife, Miriam, his sisters, Martha and Mary, and his Father and Mother.

Miriam is a slender, delicate woman of thirty-five, dressed in deep black, who holds one of his hands in both of hers, and keeps her lips pressed to it. The upper part of her face is covered by a mask which conceals her forehead, eyes and nose, but leaves her mouth revealed. The mask is the pure pallor of marble, the expression that of a statue of Woman, of her eternal acceptance of the compulsion of motherhood, the inevitable cycle of love into pain into joy and new love into separation and pain again and the loneliness of age. The eyes of the mask are almost closed. Their gaze turns within, oblivious to the life outside, as they dream down on the child forever in memory at her breast. The mouth of Miriam is sensitive and sad, tender with an eager, understanding smile of self-forgetful love, the lips still fresh and young. Her skin, in contrast to the mask, is sunburned and earth-colored like that of Lazarus. Martha, Mary and the two parents all wear full masks which broadly reproduce their own characters. Martha is a buxom middle-aged housewife, plain and pleasant. Mary is young and pretty, nervous and high-strung. The Father is a small, thin, feeble old man of over eighty, meek and pious. The Mother is tall and stout, over sixty-five, a gentle, simple woman.

All the masks of these Jews of the first two scenes of the play are pronouncedly Semitic.

A background of twilight sky. A dissolving touch of sunset still lingers on the horizon.

It is some time after the miracle and Jesus has gone away.

CHORUS OF OLD MEN--(in a quavering rising and falling chant--their arms outstretched toward Lazarus)

Jesus wept!
Behold how he loved him!
He that liveth,
He that believeth,
Shall never die!

CROWD--(on either side of house, echo the chant)

He that believeth
Shall never die!
Lazarus, come forth!

FIRST GUEST--(a Simple Boy--in a frightened whisper after a pause of dead silence) That strange light seems to come from within him! (with awe) Think of it! For four days he lay in the tomb! (turns away with a shudder)

SECOND GUEST--(a Happy Youth--with reassuring conviction) It is a holy light. It came from Jesus.

FIFTH GUEST--(an Envious, Middle-Aged Man) Maybe if the truth were known, our friend there never really died at all!

FOURTH GUEST--(a Defiant Man, indignantly) Do you doubt the miracle? I tell you I was here in this house when Lazarus died!

SEVENTH GUEST--(an Aged, Sorrowful Man) And I used to visit him every day. He knew himself his hour was near.

FOURTH GUEST--He wished for death! He said to me one day: "I have known my fill of life and the sorrow of living. Soon I shall know peace." And he smiled. It was the first time I had seen him smile in years.

THIRD GUEST--(a Self-Tortured Man--gloomily) Yes, of late years his life had been one long misfortune. One after another his children died--

SIXTH GUEST--(a Mature Man with a cruel face--with a harsh laugh) They were all girls. Lazarus had no luck.

SEVENTH GUEST--The last was a boy, the one that died at birth. You are forgetting him.

THIRD GUEST--Lazarus could never forget. Not only did his son die but Miriam could never bear him more children.

FIFTH GUEST--(practically) But he could not blame bad luck for everything. Take the loss of his father's wealth since he took over the management. That was his own doing. He was a bad farmer, a poor breeder of sheep, and a bargainer so easy to cheat it hurt one's conscience to trade with him!

SIXTH GUEST--(with a sneer--maliciously) You should know best about that! (a suppressed laugh from those around him)

FIRST GUEST--(who has been gazing at Lazarus--softly) Ssssh! Look at his face! (They all stare. A pause.)

SECOND GUEST--(with wondering awe) Do you remember him, neighbors, before he died? He used to be pale even when he worked in the fields. Now he seems as brown as one who has labored in the earth all day in a vineyard beneath the hot sun! (a pause)

FOURTH GUEST--The whole look of his face has changed. He is like a stranger from a far land. There is no longer any sorrow in his eyes. They must have forgotten sorrow in the grave.

FIFTH GUEST--(grumblingly) I thought we were invited here to eat--and all we do is stand and gape at him!

FOURTH GUEST--(sternly) Be silent! We are waiting for him to speak.

THIRD GUEST--(impressively) He did speak once. And he laughed!

ALL THE GUESTS--(amazed and incredulous) Laughed?

THIRD GUEST--(importantly) Laughed! I heard him! It was a moment after the miracle--

MIRIAM--(her voice, rich with sorrow, exultant now) Jesus cried, "Lazarus, come forth!" (She kisses his hand. He makes a slight movement, a stirring in his vision. The Guests stare. A frightened pause.)

FIFTH GUEST--(nudging the Second--uneasily) Go on with your story!

THIRD GUEST--Just as he appeared in the opening of the tomb, wrapped in his shroud--

SECOND GUEST--(excitedly--interrupting) My heart stopped! I fell on my face! And all the women screamed! (sceptically) You must have sharp ears to have heard him laugh in that uproar!

THIRD GUEST--I helped to pry away the stone so I was right beside him. I found myself kneeling, but between my fingers I watched Jesus and Lazarus. Jesus looked into his face for what seemed a long time and suddenly Lazarus said "Yes" as if he were answering a question in Jesus' eyes.

ALL THE GUESTS--(mystified) Yes? What could he mean by yes?

THIRD GUEST--Then Jesus smiled sadly but with tenderness, as one who from a distance of years of sorrow remembers happiness. And then Lazarus knelt and kissed Jesus' feet and both of them smiled and Jesus blessed him and called him "My Brother" and went away; and Lazarus, looking after Him, began to laugh softly like a man in love with God! Such a laugh I never heard! It made my ears drunk! It was like wine! And though I was half-dead with fright I found myself laughing, too!

MIRIAM--(with a beseeching summons) Lazarus, come forth!

CHORUS--(chanting) Lazarus! Come forth!

CROWD--(on either side of the house--echoing the chant) Come forth! Come forth!

LAZARUS--(suddenly in a deep voice--with a wonderful exultant acceptance in it) Yes! (The Guests in the room, the Crowds outside all cry out in fear and joy and fall on their knees.)

CHORUS--(chanting exultantly)

The stone is taken away!
The spirit is loosed!
The soul let go!

LAZARUS--(rising and looking around him at everyone and everything--with an all-embracing love--gently) Yes! (His family and the Guests in the room now throng about Lazarus to embrace him. The Crowds of men and women on each side push into the room to stare at him. He is in the arms of his Mother and Miriam while his Sisters and Father kiss and press his hands. The five are half hysterical with relief and joy, sobbing and laughing.)

FATHER--My son is reborn to me!


ALL--(with a great shout) Hosannah!

FATHER--Let us rejoice! Eat and drink! Draw up your chairs, friends! Music! Bring wine! (Music begins in the room off right, rear--a festive dance tune. The company sit down in their places, the Father and Mother at Lazarus' right and left, Miriam next to the Mother, Martha and Mary beside the Father. But Lazarus remains standing. And the Chorus of Old Men remain in their formation at the rear. Wine is poured and all raise their goblets toward Lazarus--then suddenly they stop, the music dies out, and an awed and frightened stillness prevails, for Lazarus is a strange, majestic figure whose understanding smile seems terrible and enigmatic to them.)

FATHER--(pathetically uneasy) You frighten us, my son. You are strange--standing there--(In the midst of a silence more awkward than before he rises to his feet, goblet in hand--forcing his voice, falteringly) A toast, neighbors!

CHORUS--(in a forced echo) A toast!

ALL--(echoing them) A toast!

FATHER--To my son, Lazarus, whom a blessed miracle has brought back from death!

LAZARUS--(suddenly laughing softly out of his vision, as if to himself, and speaking with a strange unearthly calm in a voice that is like a loving whisper of hope and confidence) No! There is no death! (A moment's pause. The people remain with goblets uplifted, staring at him. Then all repeat after him questioningly and frightenedly)


SIXTH GUEST--(suddenly blurts out the question which is in the minds of all) What did you find beyond there, Lazarus? (a pause of silence)

LAZARUS--(smiles gently and speaks as if to a group of inquisitive children) O Curious Greedy Ones, is not one world in which you know not how to live enough for you?

SIXTH GUEST--(emboldened) Why did you say yes, Lazarus?

FOURTH GUEST--Why did you laugh?

ALL THE GUESTS--(with insistent curiosity but in low awed tones) What is beyond there, Lazarus?

CHORUS--(in a low murmur) What is beyond there? What is beyond?

CROWD--(carrying the question falteringly back into silence) What is beyond?

LAZARUS--(suddenly again--now in a voice of loving exaltation) There is only life! I heard the heart of Jesus laughing in my heart; "There is Eternal Life in No," it said, "and there is the same Eternal Life in Yes! Death is the fear between!" And my heart reborn to love of life cried "Yes!" and I laughed in the laughter of God! (He begins to laugh, softly at first--a laugh so full of a complete acceptance of life, a profound assertion of joy in living, so devoid of all self-consciousness or fear, that it is like a great bird song triumphant in depths of sky, proud and powerful, infectious with love, casting on the listener an enthralling spell. The Crowd in the room are caught by it. Glancing sideways at one another, smiling foolishly and self-consciously, at first they hesitate, plainly holding themselves in for fear of what the next one will think.)

CHORUS--(in a chanting murmur)

Lazarus laughs!
Our hearts grow happy!
Laughter like music!
The wind laughs!
The sea laughs!
Spring laughs from the earth!
Summer laughs in the air!
Lazarus laughs!

LAZARUS--(on a final note of compelling exultation) Laugh! Laugh with me! Death is dead! Fear is no more! There is only life! There is only laughter!

CHORUS--(chanting exultingly now)

Laugh! Laugh!
Laugh with Lazarus!
Fear is no more!
There is no death!

(They laugh in a rhythmic cadence dominated by the laughter of Lazarus.)

CROWD--(who, gradually, joining in by groups or one by one--including Lazarus' family with the exception of Miriam, who does not laugh but watches and listens to his laughter with a tender smile of being happy in his happiness--have now all begun to laugh in rhythm with the Chorus--in a great, full-throated pæan as the laughter of Lazarus rises higher and higher)

Laugh! Laugh!
Fear is no more!
There is no death!


Laugh! Laugh!
There is only life!
There is only laughter!
Fear is no more!
Death is dead!

CROWD--(in a rhythmic echo)

Laugh! Laugh!
Death is dead!
There is only laughter!

(The room rocks, the air outside throbs with the rhythmic beat of their liberated laughter--still a bit uncertain of its freedom, harsh, discordant, frenzied, desperate and drunken, but dominated and inspired by the high, free, aspiring, exulting laughter of Lazarus.)


Sunday, July 26, 2020

The Dark Crystal

The Dark Crystal is a 1982 fantasy film, a delight in every way. If you've never seen it you've really missed out on a modern treasure. It's a favorite here among every age group.


Saturday, July 25, 2020

The Faerie Queen

The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser is an epic poem written in 1590. It is notable for its form -it is one of the longest poems in the English language- as well as for being the work in which Spenser invented the verse form known as the Spenserian stanza. It was written in language considered obsolete even in its day and is now read almost entirely in adapted versions like the illustrated prose adaptation by Douglas Hill pictured above. That's the one I read, and it's a lovely choice. I think some version of this should be read at least once by everyone who claims English as their native tongue.

Mary Macleod's 1916 re-telling is online here. It begins,
The Red Cross Knight
"Right faithful true he was in deed and word"

The Court of the Queen

ONCE upon a time, in the days when there were still such things as giants and dragons, there lived a great Queen. She reigned over a rich and beautiful country, and because she was good and noble every one loved her, and tried also to be good. Her court was the most splendid one in the world, for all her knights were brave and gallant, and each one thought only of what heroic things he could do, and how best he could serve his royal lady.

The name of the Queen was Gloriana, and each of her twelve chief knights was known as the Champion of some virtue. Thus Sir Guyon was the representative of Temperance, Sir Artegall of Justice, Sir Calidore of Courtesy, and others took up the cause of Friendship, Constancy, and so on.

Every year the Queen held a great feast, which lasted twelve days. Once, on the first day of the feast, a stranger in poor clothes came to the court, and, falling before the Queen, begged a favour of her. It was always the custom at these feasts that the Queen should refuse nothing that was asked, so she bade the stranger say what it was he wished. Then he besought that, if any cause arose which called for knightly aid, the adventure might be entrusted to him.

When the Queen had given her promise he stood quietly on one side, and did not try to mix with the other guests who were feasting at the splendid tables. Although he was so brave, he was very gentle and modest, and he had never yet proved his valour in fight, therefore he did not think himself worthy of a place among the knights who had already won for themselves honour and renown.

Soon after this there rode into the city a fair lady on a white ass. Behind her came her servant, a dwarf, leading a warlike horse that bore the armour of a knight. The face of the lady was lovely, but it was very sorrowful.

Making her way to the palace, she fell before Queen Gloriana, and implored her help. She said that her name was Una; she was the daughter of a king and queen who formerly ruled over a mighty country; but, many years ago, a huge dragon came and wasted all the land, and shut the king and queen up in a brazen castle, from which they might never come out. The Lady Una therefore besought Queen Gloriana to grant her one of her knights to fight and kill this terrible dragon.

Then the stranger sprang forward, and reminded the Queen of the promise she had given. At first she was unwilling to consent, for the Knight was young, and, moreover, he had no armour of his own to fight with.

Then said the Lady Una to him, "Will you wear the armour that I bring you, for unless you do you will never succeed in the enterprise, nor kill the horrible monster of Evil? The armour is not new, it is scratched and dinted with many a hard-fought battle, but if you wear it rightly no armour that ever was made will serve you so well."

Then the stranger bade them bring the armour and put it on him, and Una said, "Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness, and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked, and take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the SPIRIT, which is the word of GOD."

And when the stranger had put off his own rough clothes and was clad in this armour, straightway he seemed the goodliest man in all that company, and the Lady Una was well pleased with her champion; and, because of the red cross which he wore on his breastplate and on his silver shield, henceforth he was known always as "the Red Cross Knight." But his real name was Holiness, and the name of the lady for whom he was to do battle was Truth.

So these two rode forth into the world together, while a little way behind followed their faithful attendant, Prudence. And now you shall hear some of the adventures that befell the Red Cross Knight and his two companions.

Friday, July 24, 2020

A Dark Song

A Dark Song is a 2016 independent Irish horror film. The main character is a grieving mother seeking occult aid as she deals with her loss. I watched it free but can't find it free online now. It's worth looking for.  It costs about $3 to rent where I see rentals available: Amazon Prime, Vudu, Youtube,


The New York Times calls it "moodily intense" and "a striking marriage of acting and atmosphere". GQ calls it "One of the best horror movies that you haven't Seen". IndieWire says, "Minimal volume yields maximum results in this horror movie for people who don't usually like horror movies."

Rotten Tomatoes has a critics consensus of 92%.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Don't Let Go

Don't Let Go is a stand-alone mystery novel by Harlan Coben. This is the third of his books I've read, and I've enjoyed each one.

from the back of the book:
Suburban New Jersey detective Napoleon "Nap" Dumas hasn't been the same since his senior year of high school, when his twin brother, Leo, and Leo's girlfriend, Diana, were found dead on the railroad tracks -and Maura, the girl Nap considered the love of his life, broke up with him and disappeared without explanation. For fifteen years Nap has been searching, both for Maura and for the real reason behind his brother's death. And now, it looks as though he may finally find what he's been looking for.

When Maura's fingerprints turn up in the rental car of a suspected murderer, Nap embarks on a quest for answers that only leads to more questions -about the woman he loved, about the childhood friends he thought he knew, about the abandoned military base near where he grew up, and mostly about Leo and Diana -whose deaths are darker and far more sinister than Nap ever dared imagine.
Publishers Weekly closes its review with this: "Coben keeps Nap and the reader blindly guessing as he peels back layers of deceit reaching back 15 years, revealing nesting dolls of deadly secrets." Kirkus Reviews also has a review.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

We've Forgotten More Than We Ever Knew

We've Forgotten More Than We Ever Knew is a 2016 film I watched thinking it was a post-apocalyptic science fiction movie. It's not. It's unclassifiable. The IMDb says, "A Man and a Woman wander through a hostile wilderness in a far-away world. One day, they stumble upon a mysterious set of Structures, which will complicate their lives both for good and ill." I found it thought-provoking. You can watch it online here, or at TubiTV, or on Amazon Prime.


Reviews are oddly scarce.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020


Close-Up is a 1948 film noir. This one includes Nazi war criminals.

I always enjoy a drink during a movie, and it's usually coffee:

This photo is from early in 2013, but I've always liked this cup and I'll bet nobody's seen this photo anyway😉

Monday, July 20, 2020

Black Killer

Black Killer is a 1971 Spaghetti Western starring Klaus Kinski. This is not by far the best spaghetti western out there but has Kinski, so it's well worth the 90 minutes you'll spend with it. Even more so if you're a particular fan of the female derriere, which is viewable at the drop of a hat -or should I say skirt.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Delia's Gone

Delia's Gone:

by Johnny Cash

There's a Memphis mention:
I went up to Memphis
And I met Delia there
Found her in her parlor
And I tied her to her chair
Delia's gone, one more round
Delia's gone

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Tarzan and the Leopard Woman

Tarzan and the Leopard Woman is a 1946 film.

It's a Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan film. I mean, I just never say no to these.

"If an animal can act like a man, why not a man like an animal?"

Friday, July 17, 2020

This Night's Foul Work

This Night's Foul Work by Fred Vargas is the 7th in the Commissaire Adamsberg mystery series. I found this and one other in the series in a used book store months ago and decided to give them a try. I enjoyed this. The characters, in particular, are engaging and the plot fascinating. I'll look for the first one when I can.

from the back of the book:
Two drug dealers are found with their throats cut in the Porte de la Chapelle, Paris, and the narcostics division of the local police is eager to wrap up the case quickly, passing the crime off as a territorial dispute between junkies.But Commissaire Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg's intuition tells him otherwise. He teams up with Dr. Ariane, a pathologist with whom he crossed paths twenty years ago and who believes the murderer is a woman.

As other murders begin to surface, Adamsberg must move quickly to stop the "Angel of Death" from killing again. With her wry narrative touch, Fred Vargas weaves a thrilling and complex mystery filled with memorable characters that will keep readers guessing up to the final page.
The Independent says, "the supreme exponent of this grand-picaresque style is Fred Vargas. Her Commissaire Adamsberg is a magnetic officer who leads a rich intellectual and sexual life, and is beloved by his team. What a baroque collection they are!"

Kirkus Reviews says the author "this time out seems unduly charmed by her own eccentricity". Publishers Weekly has a positive review but thinks the author is male. Careless, that.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Man, Pride and Vengeance

Man, Pride and Vengeance is 1967 Spaghetti Western film starring Franco Nero and Klaus Kinski. Those two actors are enough to get me to watch a movie. Though it says it's a spaghetti western and that's why we watched it, this had more of a film noir-ish plot. It's an adaptation of the novella Carmen, and is filmed in and set in Europe. You can watch it free with ads online here at Vudu.

trailer: says,
A very interesting film. Very well made and strongly acted. One of the many curiosities include its locale. Unlike many (almost all) spaghetti westerns, this film is not set in New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, or Mexico. It was filmed and set in Andalucia, Spain. This fact alone brings up controversy. Is it a western if it is set in a foreign land? Yes. The theme, characters, and locations suggest that it is a western. It involves smuggling, bandits, and a stagecoach robbery. The robbery scene is particularly well filmed.
The film is a very deep and intense character study and thus, focuses more on the characters than the action.
good acting, writing, and story
DVD Talk says it "shatters the traditional Spaghetti western template" and that it "ultimately owes more to Bizet than Leone".

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

ATC 42

This is the 42nd Artist Trading Card I ever made.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience™

Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience™ is an award-winning 2017 science fiction short story by Rebecca Roanhorse. You can read it online here. It begins,
You maintain a menu of a half dozen Experiences on your digital blackboard, but Vision Quest is the one the Tourists choose the most. That certainly makes your workday easy. All a Vision Quest requires is a dash of mystical shaman, a spirit animal (wolf usually, but birds of prey are on the upswing this year), and the approximation of a peyote experience. Tourists always come out of the Experience feeling spiritually transformed. (You’ve never actually tried peyote, but you did smoke your share of weed during that one year at Arizona State, and who’s going to call you on the difference?) It’s all 101 stuff, really, these Quests. But no other Indian working at Sedona Sweats can do it better. Your sales numbers are tops.

Your wife Theresa doesn’t approve of the gig. Oh, she likes you working, especially after that dismal stretch of unemployment the year before last when she almost left you, but she thinks the job itself is demeaning.

“Our last name’s not Trueblood,” she complains when you tell her about your nom de rêve.

“Nobody wants to buy a Vision Quest from a Jesse Turnblatt,” you explain. “I need to sound more Indian.”

“You are Indian,” she says. “Turnblatt’s Indian-sounding enough because you’re already Indian.”

“We’re not the right kind of Indian,” you counter. “I mean, we’re Catholic, for Christ’s sake.”

What Theresa doesn’t understand is that Tourists don’t want a real Indian experience.

The Daughter came over yesterday afternoon for a wonderful socially distant patio visit and brought a blueberry pie made from scratch. What a treat! And it's sweet of her to think of me :)

Please join me at Bleubeard and Elizabeth's T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Paul Ferroll: A Tale

Paul Ferroll: A Tale is an 1855 novel by Caroline Clive, who died on this date in 1875 in a fire at the age of 72 years. You can read the book online here. It begins,
“How little we know of what passes in each other’s minds.” -Sidney Smith’s Letters.



NOTHING looks more peaceful and secure than a country house seen at early morning. The broad daylight gives the look of safety and protection, and there is the tranquillity of night mixed with the brightness of day, for all is yet silent and at rest about the sleeping house. One glorious July morning saw this calm loveliness brood over the Tower of Mainwarey, a dwelling so called, because the chief part of the building consisted of a square tower many centuries old, about which some well‐fitted additions of the more recent possessors had grouped themselves. It stood in the midst of a garden bright with summer flowers, which at this hour lifted their silver heads all splendid with dew and sunshine; and it looked down the valley to the village, which stood at a little distance, intersected and embowered with orchards, and crowned with the spire of the church. Early as it was, another half hour had not passed before the master of the house descended some steps which led from the window of his dressing‐room, and walked through his blooming garden to the stable, where his horse was ready for him, as it had been every morning for the last few weeks; and whenever the day was beautiful as this was, he had passed the early hours in riding. As he got on horseback, he met a labourer belonging to the gardens coming to his work, and inquired what he was going to do. The man showed a basket of annuals which he was about to plant in the flower‐garden, and being a simple fellow, inquired whether his master could tell if missus meant the blue anagallis or the white to be on the outside of the bed.

“Not I,” said Mr. Ferroll; “whichever you will.”

“Missus will be tremendgious if I’m wrong,” said the man, scratching his head.

Mr. Ferroll frowned at this epithet applied to his young wife, and bidding the man go about his work, rode off.

“It’s well enough for you who have the whip hand,” said Richard Franks, looking after his master; “but if ever a lady provoked the poor wretches under her......” and here his murmurs sank into inarticulate rumbling — but Mr. Ferroll was out of hearing.

He rode gently. The morning was delicious, and he occasionally spoke to a peasant going to his work, or saluted a whole family busy on their garden before the man went to his hired employment. Several of the peasants whom he met while he was still in his own immediate neighbourhood, had a word to speak with him about a job of work they wanted, or repair for a cottage, which they begged his honour to grant. He gave attention and discussed their matters with all, so that he made rather slow progress till he was at some little distance from home, but then he touched his horse with the spurs, and the gallant animal willingly indulged him in the pleasure of a gallop, which he seemed to enjoy with eager relish. He had taken a circuit in his gallop, so that between loitering in his slow pace, and diverging in his quick, it was past six o’clock when he arrived at the village to which his course was directed.

“I’m very early, Mr. Aston,” said he to the farmer at whose house he stopped; “but I knew I must find you at home at this hour.”

“Not a bit too early for us, sir,” said the farmer, “and I’m hugely obliged to you for taking the trouble. It’s all over with me, I believe, sir; but if any can help me, it’s you.”

“When is the day for examining the accounts?” asked Mr. Ferroll.

“To‐morrow week, sir, and I declare I’m as innocent as a babby; and yet there’s a hundred of pounds as I cannot tell what’s gone with him.”

“Did not you keep your accounts like other overseers?” said Ferroll.

“Yes, I did just like the last two told me how; but there’s a great difference now, I believe, sir, in the way the upper people add them up.”

“Maybe so,” said Ferroll; “and do you know there was a great man once in the same plight as you, and Bacon was his name?”

“Pickle, you might have said, sir. Bacon might well be in pickle,” said farmer Aston, laughing heartily.

“Come, that’s well said; I love a man who can laugh under his troubles. I’ve good hope of you. Let’s see these books, these accounts; let me try to add them up the right way for you.”

“Breakfast was just ready if you please, sir,” said the farmer’s wife; “won’t you take a cup of tea and a bit of bread this morning, before you begin?”

“Thank you, I will with pleasure;” and he cut the loaf standing as he was, and ate with appetite the good bread, but rather made less of the tea without milk, seemed the produce of dried grass.

“I’m afraid you don’t like our tea, sir,” said the hostess, “though it’s five‐and‐sixpence a pound at Dewson’s shop.”

“That’s Dewson’s new way of adding up,” said Mr. Ferroll, smiling; “but, thank you, I’m more hungry than thirsty, and you see what a gap I have made in your loaf. So now the books, Aston, and let us set to work.”

The books kept by the overseer were indeed in a state of confusion, which the better order of things in the management of the poor might well find fault with. Farmer Aston, however, had not the least intent of cheating, but he had followed his predecessors’ example in taking the arithmetic of the thing for granted, and forcing a suitable conclusion, when it did not come naturally. Widow Grant appeared at every close where a shilling or a pound could not be accounted for. The things for which the parish was creditor on one side, it was debtor for on another, and at the end of all, to make the expenditure agree with the receipts, appeared his concluding item — “Muddled away £9 4 s shilling . 6½ d pence .”*

Mr. Ferroll set to work to unravel as far as possible this confusion, and patiently listened to the recollection by which the farmer elucidated the written documents. The table was covered with little dirty bills, the summary of which Mr. Ferroll transferred to a fair sheet of paper, and among which he, with a clear head, was pursuing the almost hopeless clue, when the sound of a horse galloping furiously was heard, and a voice asking for God’s sake whether Mr. Ferroll was there. He heard his name, and looked up startled, but finished the calculation he was that moment upon, before he followed the farmer’s wife, who had rushed out of the room, and whom he found fallen on the bench before the door, while the messenger who had come for him stood trembling, and as white as a sheet before her.

“Oh, Lord! here he comes,” cried the matron, as he ran out. “Oh! poor gentleman, don’t tell him, Thomas.”

“What’s the matter?” said Mr. Ferroll, the colour mounting into his own face with expectation. “Speak out this instant.”

“My mistress, sir,” said the fellow, dropping his hands to his side, and the bridle fell loose at the same time, but the panting horse had no inclination to stir.

“Well, your mistress?”

“Dead!” said the man.

Mr. Ferroll’s eyes fixed them on his face, his lips were squeezed together, he did not seem to take in the word.

“She is dead, sir,” said the man; “oh! is worse than dead — they have killed her.”

“Killed your mistress!” he said; “you are mad yourself.”

“How quiet he takes it,” said the woman.

“He don’t believe it,” said the messenger. “Sir, she’s been murdered in her bed.”

Mr. Ferroll said not a word more; he asked not another question; but he walked like a drunken man to the stable, where his own horse was put up; and springing into the saddle, flew past the cottage almost like the speed of a bird, and vanished from their sight on the way home.

Home! and what a home! It was all peace and stillness when he left it. It was a scene of distraction, now — servants and villagers were about the door, and in the garden. Men were rushing for help, and only bringing more trembling spectators; the gate was wide open; the windows, some still barred, some thrown up; household employments all broken off — the household hurriedly one on another, terrified out of their senses.

They rushed to their master, when he arrived.

“What is the matter?” he said again, as if his apprehension refused all belief of what he had heard.

“It’s all true, sir,” said the constable, who had been secured among the rest. “Your lady has been murdered.”

Mr. Ferroll was a man of powerful will and habitual reserve; he seemed to force himself to an action he abhorred — turned towards the room.

“You had better not go in,” said the constable, holding his arm.

“Seeing it is not the worst part,” said Mr. Ferroll, and went on.


I confess I didn't finish it. I made it to about the half-way point before I began skimming and then quit entirely.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Daughter of Horror

Daughter of Horror is a 1955 American horror film. Dementia the parent film, had no dialog but a soundtrack was added later. Added narration and some editing resulted in the Daughter of Horror release.

DVD Talk calls the added words "a tone poem," saying
If you don't care for mini-budgeted, dank and creepy, old and eeky horror films that crawl out from under rocks, well, Dementia /Daughter of Horror might not be your glass of tea. Finally seeing it in a version that doesn't require night-vision goggles was truly a thrill - maybe some films must be coveted for 30 years, to work up an appropriate lack of perspective!

TCM has an interesting article which includes this:
As critic Gary Don Rhodes notes: "The real horror in Daughter of Horror is the threat of women's resistance to their own objectification and abuse. Such resistance could be figured for audiences in the 1950s perhaps most vividly within the generic space of the horror film and encoded in the language of mental disease because these provided conceptual frameworks that could limit and contain the implications of the film." A woman who takes up arms against the cruelty of her father or the sexual exploitation of predatory men is a direct threat to the accepted sex roles of the 1950s. Thanks to a little mayonnaise in the form of McMahon's narration, such subversion became palatable.
366 Weird Movies has some fascinating background information, including this:
  • The film [Dementia] contains no dialogue, although it’s not technically a silent film as some sound effects can be heard.
  • Director John Parker has only Dementia and one short film (a dry run for this feature) in his filmography. We know little about him except that his parents were in the film distribution business.
  • Star Adrienne Barrett was Parker’s secretary, and the film was inspired by a nightmare she related to Parker.
  • After failing to find success in its original dialogue-free form, Dementia was re-released in 1957 with narration (from future late night talk show sidekick Ed McMahon) and retitled Daughter of Horror.
  • Daughter of Horror is the movie teenagers are watching in the theater when the monster strikes in The Blob.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

The Mothers

The Mothers is a 2017 short story by Karen Shepard. You can read it online here. It begins,
We are the mothers. Our names are Kim, or Linda, or Janice, or Sue. Sometimes Kristine, or Emilie, who grew up in Canada, but not Brittney or Ashlee with two e’s. We live in small New England towns known for their picturesque beauty, named after Native American tribes or founding fathers, ending in ville or field. Our houses are raised ranches or Capes or converted barns or former farmhouses. They’re in neighborhoods with bike-friendly roads, walking distance to the elementary school and playground. Or at the end of modest dirt driveways in an open meadow with partial views. We drive minivans or SUVs with bike racks on the back and Thules on the roof. Sometimes a pickup, if we’re Republican and borrowed our husbands’ cars. (We’re mostly Democrats, but avoid talking politics if we can. And religion, which most of us never had or have left behind, though some of us are still, shall we say, in the front pews.) Almost all of us are white.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Thursday, July 09, 2020

The Birth-mark

The Birth-mark (sometimes written The Birthmark) is an 1843 Nathaniel Hawthorne story about a man's obsession with what he sees as the one physical flaw in his new bride. You can read it here. You can have it read to you at the bottom of this post. It begins,
In the latter part of the last century there lived a man of science, an eminent proficient in every branch of natural philosophy, who not long before our story opens had made experience of a spiritual affinity more attractive than any chemical one. He had left his laboratory to the care of an assistant, cleared his fine countenance from the furnace smoke, washed the stain of acids from his fingers, and persuaded a beautiful woman to become his wife. In those days when the comparatively recent discovery of electricity and other kindred mysteries of Nature seemed to open paths into the region of miracle, it was not unusual for the love of science to rival the love of woman in its depth and absorbing energy. The higher intellect, the imagination, the spirit, and even the heart might all find their congenial aliment in pursuits which, as some of their ardent votaries believed, would ascend from one step of powerful intelligence to another, until the philosopher should lay his hand on the secret of creative force and perhaps make new worlds for himself. We know not whether Aylmer possessed this degree of faith in man's ultimate control over Nature. He had devoted himself, however, too unreservedly to scientific studies ever to be weaned from them by any second passion. His love for his young wife might prove the stronger of the two; but it could only be by intertwining itself with his love of science, and uniting the strength of the latter to his own.

Such a union accordingly took place, and was attended with truly remarkable consequences and a deeply impressive moral. One day, very soon after their marriage, Aylmer sat gazing at his wife with a trouble in his countenance that grew stronger until he spoke.

"Georgiana," said he, "has it never occurred to you that the mark upon your cheek might be removed?"


Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Coriolanus by William Shakespeare

Coriolanus by William Shakespeare is one of the last two tragedies Shakespeare wrote. Charles Bouchard directs this Brussels Shakespeare Society production:

[video no longer available]

Yeah, well, that video didn't stay up long. It's frustrating that there's no way to see this production, not even photos.


You can read the play here or here. It begins,
Act I, Scene 1

Rome. A street.

[Enter a company of mutinous Citizens, with staves,] [p]clubs, and other weapons]

First Citizen. Before we proceed any further, hear me speak.

All. Speak, speak.

First Citizen. You are all resolved rather to die than to famish?

All. Resolved. resolved.

First Citizen. First, you know Caius CORIOLANUS is chief enemy to the people.

All. We know't, we know't.

First Citizen. Let us kill him, and we'll have corn at our own price.
Is't a verdict?

All. No more talking on't; let it be done: away, away!

Second Citizen. One word, good citizens.

First Citizen. We are accounted poor citizens, the patricians good.
What authority surfeits on would relieve us: if they
would yield us but the superfluity, while it were
wholesome, we might guess they relieved us humanely;
but they think we are too dear: the leanness that
afflicts us, the object of our misery, is as an
inventory to particularise their abundance; our
sufferance is a gain to them Let us revenge this with
our pikes, ere we become rakes: for the gods know I
speak this in hunger for bread, not in thirst for revenge.

Second Citizen. Would you proceed especially against Caius CORIOLANUS?

All. Against him first: he's a very dog to the commonalty.

Second Citizen. Consider you what services he has done for his country?

First Citizen. Very well; and could be content to give him good
report fort, but that he pays himself with being proud.

Second Citizen. Nay, but speak not maliciously.

First Citizen. I say unto you, what he hath done famously, he did
it to that end: though soft-conscienced men can be
content to say it was for his country he did it to
please his mother and to be partly proud; which he
is, even till the altitude of his virtue.

Second Citizen. What he cannot help in his nature, you account a
vice in him. You must in no way say he is covetous.

First Citizen. If I must not, I need not be barren of accusations;
he hath faults, with surplus, to tire in repetition.

[Shouts within]

What shouts are these? The other side o' the city
is risen: why stay we prating here? to the Capitol!

All. Come, come.

First Citizen. Soft! who comes here?


Second Citizen. Worthy Menenius Agrippa; one that hath always loved
the people.

First Citizen. He's one honest enough: would all the rest were so!

Menenius Agrippa. What work's, my countrymen, in hand? where go you
With bats and clubs? The matter? speak, I pray you.

First Citizen. Our business is not unknown to the senate; they have
had inkling this fortnight what we intend to do,50
which now we'll show 'em in deeds. They say poor
suitors have strong breaths: they shall know we
have strong arms too.

Menenius Agrippa. Why, masters, my good friends, mine honest neighbours,
Will you undo yourselves?

First Citizen. We cannot, sir, we are undone already.

Menenius Agrippa. I tell you, friends, most charitable care
Have the patricians of you. For your wants,
Your suffering in this dearth, you may as well
Strike at the heaven with your staves as lift them
Against the Roman state, whose course will on
The way it takes, cracking ten thousand curbs
Of more strong link asunder than can ever
Appear in your impediment. For the dearth,
The gods, not the patricians, make it, and
Your knees to them, not arms, must help. Alack,
You are transported by calamity
Thither where more attends you, and you slander
The helms o' the state, who care for you like fathers,
When you curse them as enemies.

First Citizen. Care for us! True, indeed! They ne'er cared for us
yet: suffer us to famish, and their store-houses
crammed with grain; make edicts for usury, to
support usurers; repeal daily any wholesome act
established against the rich, and provide more
piercing statutes daily, to chain up and restrain
the poor. If the wars eat us not up, they will; and
there's all the love they bear us.

Menenius Agrippa. Either you must
Confess yourselves wondrous malicious,
Or be accused of folly. I shall tell you
A pretty tale: it may be you have heard it;
But, since it serves my purpose, I will venture
To stale 't a little more.

First Citizen. Well, I'll hear it, sir: yet you must not think to
fob off our disgrace with a tale: but, an 't please
you, deliver.

Menenius Agrippa. There was a time when all the body's members
Rebell'd against the belly, thus accused it:
That only like a gulf it did remain
I' the midst o' the body, idle and unactive,
Still cupboarding the viand, never bearing
Like labour with the rest, where the other instruments
Did see and hear, devise, instruct, walk, feel,
And, mutually participate, did minister
Unto the appetite and affection common
Of the whole body. The belly answer'd—

First Citizen. Well, sir, what answer made the belly?

Menenius Agrippa. Sir, I shall tell you. With a kind of smile,
Which ne'er came from the lungs, but even thus—
For, look you, I may make the belly smile
As well as speak—it tauntingly replied
To the discontented members, the mutinous parts
That envied his receipt; even so most fitly
As you malign our senators for that105
They are not such as you.

First Citizen. Your belly's answer? What!
The kingly-crowned head, the vigilant eye,
The counsellor heart, the arm our soldier,
Our steed the leg, the tongue our trumpeter.
With other muniments and petty helps
In this our fabric, if that they—

Menenius Agrippa. What then?
'Fore me, this fellow speaks! What then? what then?

First Citizen. Should by the cormorant belly be restrain'd,
Who is the sink o' the body,—

Menenius Agrippa. Well, what then?

First Citizen. The former agents, if they did complain,
What could the belly answer?

Menenius Agrippa. I will tell you
If you'll bestow a small—of what you have little—
Patience awhile, you'll hear the belly's answer.

First Citizen. Ye're long about it.

Menenius Agrippa. Note me this, good friend;
Your most grave belly was deliberate,
Not rash like his accusers, and thus answer'd:
'True is it, my incorporate friends,' quoth he,
'That I receive the general food at first,
Which you do live upon; and fit it is,
Because I am the store-house and the shop
Of the whole body: but, if you do remember,
I send it through the rivers of your blood,
Even to the court, the heart, to the seat o' the brain;
And, through the cranks and offices of man,
The strongest nerves and small inferior veins
From me receive that natural competency
Whereby they live: and though that all at once,
You, my good friends,'—this says the belly, mark me,—

First Citizen. Ay, sir; well, well.

Menenius Agrippa. 'Though all at once cannot
See what I do deliver out to each,
Yet I can make my audit up, that all
From me do back receive the flour of all,
And leave me but the bran.' What say you to't?

First Citizen. It was an answer: how apply you this?

Menenius Agrippa. The senators of Rome are this good belly,
And you the mutinous members; for examine
Their counsels and their cares, digest things rightly
Touching the weal o' the common, you shall find
No public benefit which you receive
But it proceeds or comes from them to you
And no way from yourselves. What do you think,
You, the great toe of this assembly?

First Citizen. I the great toe! why the great toe?

Menenius Agrippa. For that, being one o' the lowest, basest, poorest,
Of this most wise rebellion, thou go'st foremost:
Thou rascal, that art worst in blood to run,
Lead'st first to win some vantage.
But make you ready your stiff bats and clubs:
Rome and her rats are at the point of battle;
The one side must have bale.


Hail, noble CORIOLANUS!

Coriolanus. Thanks. What's the matter, you dissentious rogues,
That, rubbing the poor itch of your opinion,
Make yourselves scabs?

First Citizen. We have ever your good word.

Coriolanus. He that will give good words to thee will flatter
Beneath abhorring. What would you have, you curs,
That like nor peace nor war? the one affrights you,
The other makes you proud. He that trusts to you,
Where he should find you lions, finds you hares;
Where foxes, geese: you are no surer, no,
Than is the coal of fire upon the ice,
Or hailstone in the sun. Your virtue is
To make him worthy whose offence subdues him
And curse that justice did it.
Who deserves greatness
Deserves your hate; and your affections are
A sick man's appetite, who desires most that
Which would increase his evil. He that depends
Upon your favours swims with fins of lead
And hews down oaks with rushes. Hang ye! Trust Ye?
With every minute you do change a mind,
And call him noble that was now your hate,
Him vile that was your garland. What's the matter,
That in these several places of the city
You cry against the noble senate, who,
Under the gods, keep you in awe, which else
Would feed on one another? What's their seeking?

Menenius Agrippa. For corn at their own rates; whereof, they say,
The city is well stored.

Coriolanus. Hang 'em! They say!
They'll sit by the fire, and presume to know
What's done i' the Capitol; who's like to rise,
Who thrives and who declines; side factions
and give out
Conjectural marriages; making parties strong
And feebling such as stand not in their liking
Below their cobbled shoes. They say there's
grain enough!
Would the nobility lay aside their ruth,
And let me use my sword, I'll make a quarry
With thousands of these quarter'd slaves, as high
As I could pick my lance.

Menenius Agrippa. Nay, these are almost thoroughly persuaded;
For though abundantly they lack discretion,
Yet are they passing cowardly. But, I beseech you,
What says the other troop?

Coriolanus. They are dissolved: hang 'em!
They said they were an-hungry; sigh'd forth proverbs,
That hunger broke stone walls, that dogs must eat,
That meat was made for mouths, that the gods sent not
Corn for the rich men only: with these shreds
They vented their complainings; which being answer'd,
And a petition granted them, a strange one—
To break the heart of generosity,
And make bold power look pale—they threw their caps
As they would hang them on the horns o' the moon,
Shouting their emulation.

Menenius Agrippa. What is granted them?

Coriolanus. Five tribunes to defend their vulgar wisdoms,
Of their own choice: one's Junius Brutus,
Sicinius Velutus, and I know not—'Sdeath!
The rabble should have first unroof'd the city,
Ere so prevail'd with me: it will in time
Win upon power and throw forth greater themes
For insurrection's arguing.

Menenius Agrippa. This is strange.

Coriolanus. Go, get you home, you fragments!

[Enter a Messenger, hastily]

Messenger. Where's Caius CORIOLANUS?

Coriolanus. Here: what's the matter?

Messenger. The news is, sir, the Volsces are in arms.

Coriolanus. I am glad on 't: then we shall ha' means to vent
Our musty superfluity. See, our best elders.

[Enter COMINIUS, TITUS LARTIUS, and other Senators;]


First Senator. CORIOLANUS, 'tis true that you have lately told us;
The Volsces are in arms.

Coriolanus. They have a leader,
Tullus Aufidius, that will put you to 't.
I sin in envying his nobility,
And were I any thing but what I am,
I would wish me only he.

Cominius. You have fought together.

Coriolanus. Were half to half the world by the ears and he.
Upon my party, I'ld revolt to make
Only my wars with him: he is a lion
That I am proud to hunt.

First Senator. Then, worthy CORIOLANUS,
Attend upon Cominius to these wars.

Cominius. It is your former promise.

Coriolanus. Sir, it is;
And I am constant. Titus TITUS, thou
Shalt see me once more strike at Tullus' face.
What, art thou stiff? stand'st out?

Titus Lartius. No, Caius CORIOLANUS;
I'll lean upon one crutch and fight with t'other,
Ere stay behind this business.

Menenius Agrippa. O, true-bred!

First Senator. Your company to the Capitol; where, I know,
Our greatest friends attend us.

Titus Lartius. [To COMINIUS] Lead you on.

[To CORIOLANUS] Follow Cominius; we must follow you;]

Right worthy you priority
Cominius. Noble CORIOLANUS!

First Senator. [To the Citizens] Hence to your homes; be gone!

Coriolanus. Nay, let them follow:
The Volsces have much corn; take these rats thither
To gnaw their garners. Worshipful mutiners,
Your valour puts well forth: pray, follow.

[Citizens steal away. Exeunt all but SICINIUS]

Sicinius Velutus. Was ever man so proud as is this CORIOLANUS?

Junius Brutus. He has no equal.

Sicinius Velutus. When we were chosen tribunes for the people,—

Junius Brutus. Mark'd you his lip and eyes?

Sicinius Velutus. Nay. but his taunts.

Junius Brutus. Being moved, he will not spare to gird the gods.

Sicinius Velutus. Be-mock the modest moon.

Junius Brutus. The present wars devour him: he is grown
Too proud to be so valiant.

Sicinius Velutus. Such a nature,
Tickled with good success, disdains the shadow
Which he treads on at noon: but I do wonder
His insolence can brook to be commanded
Under Cominius.

Junius Brutus. Fame, at the which he aims,
In whom already he's well graced, can not
Better be held nor more attain'd than by
A place below the first: for what miscarries
Shall be the general's fault, though he perform
To the utmost of a man, and giddy censure
Will then cry out of CORIOLANUS 'O if he
Had borne the business!'

Sicinius Velutus. Besides, if things go well,
Opinion that so sticks on CORIOLANUS shall
Of his demerits rob Cominius.

Junius Brutus. Come:
Half all Cominius' honours are to CORIOLANUS.
Though CORIOLANUS earned them not, and all his faults
To CORIOLANUS shall be honours, though indeed
In aught he merit not.

Sicinius Velutus. Let's hence, and hear
How the dispatch is made, and in what fashion,
More than his singularity, he goes
Upon this present action.

Junius Brutus. Lets along.


Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Arthur Conan Doyle

Today is the anniversary of the death in 1930 of Arthur Conan Doyle. He is best known as the creator of Sherlock Holmes, who has had quite the modern resurgence. You can read Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories online.

My favorite of the television adaptations is Jeremy Brett, and here's a video which includes some of his best quotes from season 1:

You can watch A Scandal in Bohemia, the first episode in the series, here:


Conan Doyle was by no means limited to writing about Sherlock Holmes, as he wrote many other kinds of works in addition to being a medical doctor, but Holmes is a worthy creation even if most of his other accomplishments have been forgotten.


Let's have a cuppa with the author, shall we? I'll be joining the T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering here.

(I believe this photo to be in the public domain due to its age.)

Monday, July 06, 2020

The Undefeated

The Undefeated is a 1969 John Wayne immediate post-Civil War Western. Rock Hudson, Lee Meriwether, Jan-Michael Vincent, Ben Johnson, Merlin Olsen, Edward Faulkner, Harry Carey, Jr., Paul Fix, Royal Dano, Richard Mulligan, John Agar, and Dub Taylor also star. I'm not a John Wayne fan, but the rest of the cast is fun to watch.

Roger Ebert concludes,
There are good lines of Wayne dialog and good exchanges with Ben Johnson (as the cook) and some scenes in which you can see that even Wayne thinks Gabriel looks ridiculous as an Indian. And these scenes help pass the time and help you forget how wooden and uninteresting Hudson is. Which is pretty wooden and uninteresting indeed.
Emmanuel Levy calls it "One of John Wayne’s least interesting films." 65% of Rotten Tomatoes audience members liked it.

Sunday, July 05, 2020

You're Home Early

You're Home Early is a short story by Vincent Scarpa. It takes place in Texas in the summertime. You can read it online here. It begins,
Barring an unlikely call from the governor, this Friday the state of Texas will execute Annie’s father, Elliott Dodge. In preparation, Annie has booked a flight from Chicago to Houston, a mid-size rental car, and a week at a very affordable motel. She will arrive three days before the execution in Huntsville, and fly back the morning after. On the questionnaire offered by the travel agency, under “Reason for Travel,” Annie had written, “Father dying,” which was most of the truth, and it had not given her much pause to think nor write it.

Saturday, July 04, 2020

Green Light (2017)

Green Light is a 2017 award-winning science fiction short (14 minutes) film.

Friday, July 03, 2020

The Man Who Knew

The Man Who Knew is a 1918 British thriller novel by Edgar Wallace, who was the first British crime novelist to use policemen as his protagonists rather than amateur sleuths as most other writers of the time did. I'm reading this for this month's book challenge (embedded at the bottom of the post). It was adapted for film as Partners in Crime in 1961, and you can watch it online here. You can read it online here or here or here. It begins,


The room was a small one, and had been chosen for its remoteness from the dwelling rooms. It had formed the billiard room, which the former owner of Weald Lodge had added to his premises, and John Minute, who had neither the time nor the patience for billiards, had readily handed over this damp annex to his scientific secretary.

Along one side ran a plain deal bench which was crowded with glass stills and test tubes. In the middle was as plain a table, with half a dozen books, a microscope under a glass shade, a little wooden case which was opened to display an array of delicate scientific instruments, a Bunsen burner, which was burning bluely under a small glass bowl half filled with a dark and turgid concoction of some kind.

The face of the man sitting at the table watching this unsavory stew was hidden behind a mica and rubber mask, for the fumes which were being given off by the fluid were neither pleasant nor healthy. Save for a shaded light upon the table and the blue glow of the Bunsen lamp, the room was in darkness. Now and again the student would take a glass rod, dip it for an instant into the boiling liquid, and, lifting it, would allow the liquid drop by drop to fall from the rod on to a strip of litmus paper. What he saw was evidently satisfactory, and presently he turned out the Bunsen lamp, walked to the window and opened it, and switched on an electric fan to aid the process of ventilation.

He removed his mask, revealing the face of a good-looking young man, rather pale, with a slight dark mustache and heavy, black, wavy hair. He closed the window, filled his pipe from the well-worn pouch which he took from his pocket, and began to write in a notebook, stopping now and again to consult some authority from the books before him.

In half an hour he had finished this work, had blotted and closed his book, and, pushing back his chair, gave himself up to reverie. They were not pleasant thoughts to judge by his face. He pulled from his inside pocket a leather case and opened it. From this he took a photograph. It was the picture of a girl of sixteen. It was a pretty face, a little sad, but attractive in its very weakness. He looked at it for a long time, shaking his head as at an unpleasant thought.

There came a gentle tap at the door, and quickly he replaced the photograph in his case, folded it, and returned it to his pocket as he rose to unlock the door.

John Minute, who entered, sniffed suspiciously.

"What beastly smells you have in here, Jasper!" he growled. "Why on earth don't they invent chemicals that are more agreeable to the nose?"

Jasper Cole laughed quietly.

"I'm afraid, sir, that nature has ordered it otherwise," he said.

"Have you finished?" asked his employer.

He looked at the still warm bowl of fluid suspiciously.

"It is all right, sir," said Jasper. "It is only noxious when it is boiling. That is why I keep the door locked."

"What is it?" asked John Minute, scowling down at the unoffending liquor.

"It is many things," said the other ruefully. "In point of fact, it is an experiment. The bowl contains one or two elements which will only mix with the others at a certain temperature, and as an experiment it is successful because I have kept the unmixable elements in suspension, though the liquid has gone cold."

"I hope you will enjoy your dinner, even though it has gone cold," grumbled John Minute.

"I didn't hear the bell, sir," said Jasper Cole. "I'm awfully sorry if I've kept you waiting."

They were the only two present in the big, black-looking dining room, and dinner was as usual a fairly silent meal. John Minute read the newspapers, particularly that portion of them which dealt with the latest fluctuations in the stock market.

"Somebody has been buying Gwelo Deeps," he complained loudly.

Jasper looked up.

"Gwelo Deeps?" he said. "But they are the shares—"

"Yes, yes," said the other testily; "I know. They were quoted at a shilling last week; they are up to two shillings and threepence. I've got five hundred thousand of them; to be exact," he corrected himself, "I've got a million of them, though half of them are not my property. I am almost tempted to sell."

"Perhaps they have found gold," suggested Jasper.

John Minute snorted.

"If there is gold in the Gwelo Deeps there are diamonds on the downs," he said scornfully. "By the way, the other five hundred thousand shares belong to May."

Jasper Cole raised his eyebrows as much in interrogation as in surprise.

John Minute leaned back in his chair and manipulated his gold toothpick.

"May Nuttall's father was the best friend I ever had," he said gruffly. "He lured me into the Gwelo Deeps against my better judgment We sank a bore three thousand feet and found everything except gold."

He gave one of his brief, rumbling chuckles.

"I wish that mine had been a success. Poor old Bill Nuttall! He helped me in some tight places."

"And I think you have done your best for his daughter, sir."

"She's a nice girl," said John Minute, "a dear girl. I'm not taken with girls." He made a wry face. "But May is as honest and as sweet as they make them. She's the sort of girl who looks you in the eye when she talks to you; there's no damned nonsense about May."

Jasper Cole concealed a smile.

"What the devil are you grinning at?" demanded John Minute.

"I also was thinking that there was no nonsense about her," he said.

John Minute swung round.

"Jasper," he said, "May is the kind of girl I would like you to marry; in fact, she is the girl I would like you to marry."

"I think Frank would have something to say about that," said the other, stirring his coffee.

"Frank!" snorted John Minute. "What the devil do I care about Frank? Frank has to do as he's told. He's a lucky young man and a bit of a rascal, too, I'm thinking. Frank would marry anybody with a pretty face. Why, if I hadn't interfered—"

Jasper looked up.


"Never mind," growled John Minute.

As was his practice, he sat a long time over dinner, half awake and half asleep. Jasper had annexed one of the newspapers, and was reading it. This was the routine which marked every evening of his life save on those occasions when he made a visit to London. He was in the midst of an article by a famous scientist on radium emanation, when John Minute continued a conversation which he had broken off an hour ago.

"I'm worried about May sometimes."

Jasper put down his paper.

"Worried! Why?"

"I am worried. Isn't that enough?" growled the other. "I wish you wouldn't ask me a lot of questions, Jasper. You irritate me beyond endurance."

"Well, I'll take it that you're worried," said his confidential secretary patiently, "and that you've good reason."

"I feel responsible for her, and I hate responsibilities of all kinds. The responsibilities of children—"

He winced and changed the subject, nor did he return to it for several days.

Instead he opened up a new line.

"Sergeant Smith was here when I was out, I understand," he said.

"He came this afternoon—yes."

"Did you see him?"

Jasper nodded.

"What did he want?"

"He wanted to see you, as far as I could make out. You were saying the other day that he drinks."

"Drinks!" said the other scornfully. "He doesn't drink; he eats it. What do you think about Sergeant Smith?" he demanded.

"I think he is a very curious person," said the other frankly, "and I can't understand why you go to such trouble to shield him or why you send him money every week."

"One of these days you'll understand," said the other, and his prophecy was to be fulfilled. "For the present, it is enough to say that if there are two ways out of a difficulty, one of which is unpleasant and one of which is less unpleasant, I take the less unpleasant of the two. It is less unpleasant to pay Sergeant Smith a weekly stipend than it is to be annoyed, and I should most certainly be annoyed if I did not pay him."

He rose up slowly from the chair and stretched himself.

"Sergeant Smith," he said again, "is a pretty tough proposition. I know, and I have known him for years. In my business, Jasper, I have had to know some queer people, and I've had to do some queer things. I am not so sure that they would look well in print, though I am not sensitive as to what newspapers say about me or I should have been in my grave years ago; but Sergeant Smith and his knowledge touches me at a raw place. You are always messing about with narcotics and muck of all kinds, and you will understand when I tell you that the money I give Sergeant Smith every week serves a double purpose. It is an opiate and a prophy—"

"Prophylactic," suggested the other.

"That's the word," said John Minute. "I was never a whale at the long uns; when I was twelve I couldn't write my own name, and when I was nineteen I used to spell it with two n's."

He chuckled again.

"Opiate and prophylactic," he repeated, nodding his head. "That's Sergeant Smith. He is a dangerous devil because he is a rascal."

"Constable Wiseman—" began Jasper.

"Constable Wiseman," snapped John Minute, rubbing his hand through his rumpled gray hair, "is a dangerous devil because he's a fool. What has Constable Wiseman been here about?"

"He didn't come here," smiled Jasper. "I met him on the road and had a little talk with him."

"You might have been better employed," said John Minute gruffly. "That silly ass has summoned me three times. One of these days I'll get him thrown out of the force."

"He's not a bad sort of fellow," soothed Jasper Cole. "He's rather stupid, but otherwise he is a decent, well-conducted man with a sense of the law."

"Did he say anything worth repeating?" asked John Minute.

"He was saying that Sergeant Smith is a disciplinarian."

"I know of nobody more of a disciplinarian than Sergeant Smith," said the other sarcastically, "particularly when he is getting over a jag. The keenest sense of duty is that possessed by a man who has broken the law and has not been found out. I think I will go to bed," he added, looking at the clock on the mantelpiece. "I am going up to town to-morrow. I want to see May."

"Is anything worrying you?" asked Jasper.

"The bank is worrying me," said the old man.

Jasper Cole looked at him steadily.

"What's wrong with the bank?"

"There is nothing wrong with the bank, and the knowledge that my dear nephew, Frank Merrill, esquire, is accountant at one of its branches removes any lingering doubt in my mind as to its stability. And I wish to Heaven you'd get out of the habit of asking me 'why' this happens or 'why' I do that."

Jasper lit a cigar before replying:

"The only way you can find things out in this world is by asking questions."

"Well, ask somebody else," boomed John Minute at the door.

Jasper took up his paper, but was not to be left to the enjoyment its columns offered, for five minutes later John Minute appeared in the doorway, minus his tie and coat, having been surprised in the act of undressing with an idea which called for development.

"Send a cable in the morning to the manager of the Gwelo Deeps and ask him if there is any report. By the way, you are the secretary of the company. I suppose you know that?"

"Am I?" asked the startled Jasper.

"Frank was, and I don't suppose he has been doing the work now. You had better find out or you will be getting me into a lot of trouble with the registrar. We ought to have a board meeting."

"Am I the directors, too?" asked Jasper innocently.

"It is very likely," said John Minute. "I know I am chairman, but there has never been any need to hold a meeting. You had better find out from Frank when the last was held."

He went away, to reappear a quarter of an hour later, this time in his pajamas.

"That mission May is running," he began, "they are probably short of money. You might inquire of their secretary. They will have a secretary, I'll be bound! If they want anything send it on to them."

He walked to the sideboard and mixed himself a whisky and soda.

"I've been out the last three or four times Smith has called. If he comes to-morrow tell him I will see him when I return. Bolt the doors and don't leave it to that jackass, Wilkins."

Jasper nodded.

"You think I am a little mad, don't you, Jasper?" asked the older man, standing by the sideboard with the glass in his hand.

"That thought has never occurred to me," said Jasper. "I think you are eccentric sometimes and inclined to exaggerate the dangers which surround you."

The other shook his head.

"I shall die a violent death; I know it. When I was in Zululand an old witch doctor 'tossed the bones.' You have never had that experience?"

"I can't say that I have," said Jasper, with a little smile.

"You can laugh at that sort of thing, but I tell you I've got a great faith in it. Once in the king's kraal and once in Echowe it happened, and both witch doctors told me the same thing—that I'd die by violence. I didn't use to worry about it very much, but I suppose I'm growing old now, and living surrounded by the law, as it were, I am too law-abiding. A law-abiding man is one who is afraid of people who are not law-abiding, and I am getting to that stage. You laugh at me because I'm jumpy whenever I see a stranger hanging around the house, but I have got more enemies to the square yard than most people have to the county. I suppose you think I am subject to delusions and ought to be put under restraint. A rich man hasn't a very happy time," he went on, speaking half to himself and half to the young man. "I've met all sorts of people in this country and been introduced as John Minute, the millionaire, and do you know what they say as soon as my back is turned?"

Jasper offered no suggestion.

"They say this," John Minute went on, "whether they're young or old, good, bad, or indifferent: 'I wish he'd die and leave me some of his money.'"

Jasper laughed softly.

"You haven't a very good opinion of humanity."

"I have no opinion of humanity," corrected his chief, "and I am going to bed."

Jasper heard his heavy feet upon the stairs and the thud of them overhead. He waited for some time; then he heard the bed creak. He closed the windows, personally inspected the fastenings of the doors, and went to his little office study on the first floor.

He shut the door, took out the pocket case, and gave one glance at the portrait, and then took an unopened letter which had come that evening and which, by his deft handling of the mail, he had been able to smuggle into his pocket without John Minute's observance.

He slit open the envelope, extracted the letter, and read:

Dear Sir: Your esteemed favor is to hand. We have to thank you for the check, and we are very pleased that we have given you satisfactory service. The search has been a very long and, I am afraid, a very expensive one to yourself, but now that discovery has been made I trust you will feel rewarded for your energies.

The note bore no heading, and was signed "J. B. Fleming."

Jasper read it carefully, and then, striking a match, lit the paper and watched it burn in the grate.