Monday, August 31, 2020

Godmonster of Indian Flats

Godmonster of Indian Flats is a 1973 horror western. I didn't finish this one.

Oh, the Horror says, "Imagine a very special, brain-damaged episode of Gunsmoke where a mutant sheep causes mild havoc—that’s Godmonster of Indian Flats in a nutshell."

Sunday, August 30, 2020

The School

The School is a short story by Donald Barthelme. You can read it online here. It begins,
Well, we had all these children out planting trees, see, because we figured that… that was part of their education, to see how, you know, the root systems… and also the sense of responsibility, taking care of things, being individually responsible. You know what I mean. And the trees all died. They were orange trees. I don’t know why they died, they just died. Something wrong with the soil possibly or maybe the stuff we got from the nursery wasn’t the best. We complained about it. So we’ve got thirty kids there, each kid had his or her own little tree to plant and we’ve got these thirty dead trees. All these kids looking at these little brown sticks, it was depressing.

It wouldn’t have been so bad except that just a couple of weeks before the thing with the trees, the snakes all died.

Saturday, August 29, 2020


Solo: A Star Wars Story is a 2018 film. I hadn't really expected to like this, but I loved it. Perfect casting, a wonderful story... I'm surprised there wasn't a sequel. I can recommend it as an enjoyable back story that stays true to the characters. We watched it during our free time at Disney+.


Friday, August 28, 2020

The Garden Party

Summer in the Garden, by Theodor von Hörmann

The Garden Party is a short story by Katherine Mansfield. You can read it online here. It begins,
And after all the weather was ideal. They could not have had a more perfect day for a garden-party if they had ordered it. Windless, warm, the sky without a cloud. Only the blue was veiled with a haze of light gold, as it is sometimes in early summer. The gardener had been up since dawn, mowing the lawns and sweeping them, until the grass and the dark flat rosettes where the daisy plants had been seemed to shine. As for the roses, you could not help feeling they understood that roses are the only flowers that impress people at garden-parties; the only flowers that everybody is certain of knowing. Hundreds, yes, literally hundreds, had come out in a single night; the green bushes bowed down as though they had been visited by archangels.

Breakfast was not yet over before the men came to put up the marquee.

“Where do you want the marquee put, mother?”

“My dear child, it’s no use asking me. I’m determined to leave everything to you children this year. Forget I am your mother. Treat me as an honoured guest.”

But Meg could not possibly go and supervise the men. She had washed her hair before breakfast, and she sat drinking her coffee in a green turban, with a dark wet curl stamped on each cheek. Jose, the butterfly, always came down in a silk petticoat and a kimono jacket.

“You’ll have to go, Laura; you’re the artistic one.”

Away Laura flew, still holding her piece of bread-and-butter. It’s so delicious to have an excuse for eating out of doors, and besides, she loved having to arrange things; she always felt she could do it so much better than anybody else.

Four men in their shirt-sleeves stood grouped together on the garden path. They carried staves covered with rolls of canvas, and they had big tool-bags slung on their backs. They looked impressive. Laura wished now that she had not got the bread-and-butter, but there was nowhere to put it, and she couldn’t possibly throw it away. She blushed and tried to look severe and even a little bit short-sighted as she came up to them.

“Good morning,” she said, copying her mother’s voice. But that sounded so fearfully affected that she was ashamed, and stammered like a little girl, “Oh—er—have you come—is it about the marquee?”

“That’s right, miss,” said the tallest of the men, a lanky, freckled fellow, and he shifted his tool-bag, knocked back his straw hat and smiled down at her. “That’s about it.”

His smile was so easy, so friendly that Laura recovered. What nice eyes he had, small, but such a dark blue! And now she looked at the others, they were smiling too. “Cheer up, we won’t bite,” their smile seemed to say. How very nice workmen were! And what a beautiful morning! She mustn’t mention the morning; she must be business-like. The marquee.

“Well, what about the lily-lawn? Would that do?”

And she pointed to the lily-lawn with the hand that didn’t hold the bread-and-butter. They turned, they stared in the direction. A little fat chap thrust out his under-lip, and the tall fellow frowned.

“I don’t fancy it,” said he. “Not conspicuous enough. You see, with a thing like a marquee,” and he turned to Laura in his easy way, “you want to put it somewhere where it’ll give you a bang slap in the eye, if you follow me.”

Laura’s upbringing made her wonder for a moment whether it was quite respectful of a workman to talk to her of bangs slap in the eye. But she did quite follow him.

“A corner of the tennis-court,” she suggested. “But the band’s going to be in one corner.”

“H’m, going to have a band, are you?” said another of the workmen. He was pale. He had a haggard look as his dark eyes scanned the tennis-court. What was he thinking?

“Only a very small band,” said Laura gently. Perhaps he wouldn’t mind so much if the band was quite small. But the tall fellow interrupted.

“Look here, miss, that’s the place. Against those trees. Over there. That’ll do fine.”

Against the karakas. Then the karaka-trees would be hidden. And they were so lovely, with their broad, gleaming leaves, and their clusters of yellow fruit. They were like trees you imagined growing on a desert island, proud, solitary, lifting their leaves and fruits to the sun in a kind of silent splendour. Must they be hidden by a marquee?

They must. Already the men had shouldered their staves and were making for the place. Only the tall fellow was left. He bent down, pinched a sprig of lavender, put his thumb and forefinger to his nose and snuffed up the smell. When Laura saw that gesture she forgot all about the karakas in her wonder at him caring for things like that—caring for the smell of lavender. How many men that she knew would have done such a thing? Oh, how extraordinarily nice workmen were, she thought. Why couldn’t she have workmen for her friends rather than the silly boys she danced with and who came to Sunday night supper? She would get on much better with men like these.

It’s all the fault, she decided, as the tall fellow drew something on the back of an envelope, something that was to be looped up or left to hang, of these absurd class distinctions. Well, for her part, she didn’t feel them. Not a bit, not an atom.... And now there came the chock-chock of wooden hammers. Some one whistled, some one sang out, “Are you right there, matey?” “Matey!” The friendliness of it, the—the—Just to prove how happy she was, just to show the tall fellow how at home she felt, and how she despised stupid conventions, Laura took a big bite of her bread-and-butter as she stared at the little drawing. She felt just like a work-girl.

“Laura, Laura, where are you? Telephone, Laura!” a voice cried from the house.

“Coming!” Away she skimmed, over the lawn, up the path, up the steps, across the veranda, and into the porch. In the hall her father and Laurie were brushing their hats ready to go to the office.

“I say, Laura,” said Laurie very fast, “you might just give a squiz at my coat before this afternoon. See if it wants pressing.”

“I will,” said she. Suddenly she couldn’t stop herself. She ran at Laurie and gave him a small, quick squeeze. “Oh, I do love parties, don’t you?” gasped Laura.

“Ra-ther,” said Laurie’s warm, boyish voice, and he squeezed his sister too, and gave her a gentle push. “Dash off to the telephone, old girl.”

The telephone. “Yes, yes; oh yes. Kitty? Good morning, dear. Come to lunch? Do, dear. Delighted of course. It will only be a very scratch meal—just the sandwich crusts and broken meringue-shells and what’s left over. Yes, isn’t it a perfect morning? Your white? Oh, I certainly should. One moment—hold the line. Mother’s calling.” And Laura sat back. “What, mother? Can’t hear.”

Mrs. Sheridan’s voice floated down the stairs. “Tell her to wear that sweet hat she had on last Sunday.”

“Mother says you’re to wear that sweet hat you had on last Sunday. Good. One o’clock. Bye-bye.”

Laura put back the receiver, flung her arms over her head, took a deep breath, stretched and let them fall. “Huh,” she sighed, and the moment after the sigh she sat up quickly. She was still, listening. All the doors in the house seemed to be open. The house was alive with soft, quick steps and running voices. The green baize door that led to the kitchen regions swung open and shut with a muffled thud. And now there came a long, chuckling absurd sound. It was the heavy piano being moved on its stiff castors. But the air! If you stopped to notice, was the air always like this? Little faint winds were playing chase, in at the tops of the windows, out at the doors. And there were two tiny spots of sun, one on the inkpot, one on a silver photograph frame, playing too. Darling little spots. Especially the one on the inkpot lid. It was quite warm. A warm little silver star. She could have kissed it.

The front door bell pealed, and there sounded the rustle of Sadie’s print skirt on the stairs. A man’s voice murmured; Sadie answered, careless, “I’m sure I don’t know. Wait. I’ll ask Mrs Sheridan.”

“What is it, Sadie?” Laura came into the hall.

“It’s the florist, Miss Laura.”

It was, indeed. There, just inside the door, stood a wide, shallow tray full of pots of pink lilies. No other kind. Nothing but lilies—canna lilies, big pink flowers, wide open, radiant, almost frighteningly alive on bright crimson stems.

“O-oh, Sadie!” said Laura, and the sound was like a little moan. She crouched down as if to warm herself at that blaze of lilies; she felt they were in her fingers, on her lips, growing in her breast.

“It’s some mistake,” she said faintly. “Nobody ever ordered so many. Sadie, go and find mother.”

But at that moment Mrs. Sheridan joined them.

“It’s quite right,” she said calmly. “Yes, I ordered them. Aren’t they lovely?” She pressed Laura’s arm. “I was passing the shop yesterday, and I saw them in the window. And I suddenly thought for once in my life I shall have enough canna lilies. The garden-party will be a good excuse.”

“But I thought you said you didn’t mean to interfere,” said Laura. Sadie had gone. The florist’s man was still outside at his van. She put her arm round her mother’s neck and gently, very gently, she bit her mother’s ear.

“My darling child, you wouldn’t like a logical mother, would you? Don’t do that. Here’s the man.”

He carried more lilies still, another whole tray.

You can listen to it read to you here:

Thursday, August 27, 2020

End of the World

End of the World is a 1977 science fiction film starring Christopher Lee, Dean Jagger, and Lew Ayres. This is absolutely dreadful -embarrassing to watch.

Moria bemoans how low Christopher Lee had sunk: "From the very opening scene where he runs into a diner like a madman, surrounded by exploding coffee machines and telephone booths, you hang you head in shame and think “Oh, Christopher”."

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Marjorie Daw

Marjorie Daw is a short story, one of his first, by Thomas Bailey Aldrich. If you need a mood lightener, this little gem is hilarious. You can read it online here. It begins,

August 8, 1872.

My Dear Sir: I am happy to assure you that your anxiety is without reason. Flemming will be confined to the sofa for three or four weeks, and will have to be careful at first how he uses his leg. A fracture of this kind is always a tedious affair. Fortunately the bone was very skilfully set by the surgeon who chanced to be in the drugstore where Flemming was brought after his fall, and I apprehend no permanent inconvenience from the accident. Flemming is doing perfectly well physically; but I must confess that the irritable and morbid state of mind into which he has fallen causes me a great deal of uneasiness. He is the last man in the world who ought to break his leg. You know how impetuous our friend is ordinarily, what a soul of restlessness and energy, never content unless he is rushing at some object, like a sportive bull at a red shawl; but amiable withal. He is no longer amiable. His temper has become something frightful. Miss Fanny Flemming came up from Newport, where the family are staying for the summer, to nurse him; but he packed her off the next morning in tears. He has a complete set of Balzac’s works, twenty-seven volumes, piled up near his sofa, to throw at Watkins whenever that exemplary serving-man appears with his meals. Yesterday I very innocently brought Flemming a small basket of lemons. You know it was a strip of lemon-peel on the curbstone that caused our friend’s mischance. Well, he no sooner set is eyes upon those lemons than he fell into such a rage as I cannot adequately describe. This is only one of moods, and the least distressing. At other times he sits with bowed head regarding his splintered limb, silent, sullen, despairing. When this fit is on him—and it sometimes lasts all day—nothing can distract his melancholy. He refuses to eat, does not even read the newspapers; books, except as projectiles for Watkins, have no charms for him. His state is truly pitiable.

Now, if he were a poor man, with a family depending on his daily labor, this irritability and despondency would be natural enough. But in a young fellow of twenty-four, with plenty of money and seemingly not a care in the world, the thing is monstrous. If he continues to give way to his vagaries in this manner, he will end by bringing on an inflammation of the fibula. It was the fibula he broke. I am at my wits’ end to know what to prescribe for him. I have anaesthetics and lotions, to make people sleep and to soothe pain; but I’ve no medicine that will make a man have a little common-sense. That is beyond my skill, but maybe it is not beyond yours. You are Flemming’s intimate friend, his fidus Achates. Write to him, write to him frequently, distract his mind, cheer him up, and prevent him from becoming a confirmed case of melancholia. Perhaps he has some important plans disarranged by his present confinement. If he has you will know, and will know how to advise him judiciously. I trust your father finds the change beneficial? I am, my dear sir, with great respect, etc.


August 9, 1872.

My Dear Jack: I had a line from Dillon this morning, and was rejoiced to learn that your hurt is not so bad as reported. Like a certain personage, you are not so black and blue as you are painted. Dillon will put you on your pins again in two to three weeks, if you will only have patience and follow his counsels. Did you get my note of last Wednesday? I was greatly troubled when I heard of the accident.

I can imagine how tranquil and saintly you are with your leg in a trough! It is deuced awkward, to be sure, just as we had promised ourselves a glorious month together at the sea-side; but we must make the best of it. It is unfortunate, too, that my father’s health renders it impossible for me to leave him. I think he has much improved; the sea air is his native element; but he still needs my arm to lean upon in his walks, and requires some one more careful that a servant to look after him. I cannot come to you, dear Jack, but I have hours of unemployed time on hand, and I will write you a whole post-office full of letters, if that will divert you. Heaven knows, I haven’t anything to write about. It isn’t as if we were living at one of the beach houses; then I could do you some character studies, and fill your imagination with groups of sea-goddesses, with their (or somebody else’s) raven and blonde manes hanging down their shoulders. You should have Aphrodite in morning wrapper, in evening costume, and in her prettiest bathing suit. But we are far from all that here. We have rooms in a farm-house, on a cross-road, two miles from the hotels, and lead the quietest of lives.

I wish I were a novelist. This old house, with its sanded floors and high wainscots, and its narrow windows looking out upon a cluster of pines that turn themselves into aeolian harps every time the wind blows, would be the place in which to write a summer romance. It should be a story with the odors of the forest and the breath of the sea in it. It should be a novel like one of that Russian fellow’s—what’s his name?—Tourguenieff, Turguenef, Turgenif, Toorguniff, Turgenjew—nobody knows how to spell him. Yet I wonder if even a Liza or an Alexandra Paulovna could stir the heart of a man who has constant twinges in his leg. I wonder if one of our own Yankee girls of the best type, haughty and spirituelle, would be of any comfort to you in your present deplorable condition. If I thought so, I would hasten down to the Surf House and catch one for you; or, better still, I would find you one over the way.

Picture to yourself a large white house just across the road, nearly opposite our cottage. It is not a house, but a mansion, built, perhaps, in the colonial period, with rambling extensions, and gambrel roof, and a wide piazza on three sides—a self-possessed, high-bred piece of architecture, with its nose in the air. It stands back from the road, and has an obsequious retinue of fringed elms and oaks and weeping willows. Sometimes in the morning, and oftener in the afternoon, when the sun has withdrawn from that part of the mansions, a young woman appears on the piazza with some mysterious Penelope web of embroidery in her hand, or a book. There is a hammock over there—of pineapple fibre, it looks from here. A hammock is very becoming when one is eighteen, and has golden hair, and dark eyes, and an emerald-colored illusion dress looped up after the fashion of a Dresden china shepherdess, and is chaussee like a belle of the time of Louis Quatorze. All this splendor goes into that hammock, and sways there like a pond-lily in the golden afternoon. The window of my bedroom looks down on that piazza—and so do I.

But enough of the nonsense, which ill becomes a sedate young attorney taking his vacation with an invalid father. Drop me a line, dear Jack, and tell me how you really are. State your case. Write me a long, quite letter. If you are violent or abusive, I’ll take the law to you.


August 11, 1872.

Your letter, dear Ned, was a godsend. Fancy what a fix I am in—I, who never had a day’s sickness since I was born. My left leg weighs three tons. It is embalmed in spices and smothered in layers of fine linen, like a mummy. I can’t move. I haven’t moved for five thousand years. I’m of the time of Pharaoh.

I lie from morning till night on a lounge, staring into the hot street. Everybody is out of town enjoying himself. The brown-stone-front houses across the street resemble a row of particularly ugly coffins set up on end. A green mould is settling on the names of the deceased, carved on the silver door-plates. Sardonic spiders have sewed up the key-holes. All is silence and dust and desolation.—I interrupt this a moment, to take a shy at Watkins with the second volume of Cesar Birotteau. Missed him! I think I could bring him down with a copy of Sainte-Beuve or the Dictionnaire Universel, if I had it. These small Balzac books somehow do not quite fit my hand; but I shall fetch him yet. I’ve an idea that Watkins is tapping the old gentleman’s Chateau Yquem. Duplicate key of the wine-cellar. Hibernian swarries in the front basement. Young Cheops up stairs, snug in his cerements. Watkins glides into my chamber, with that colorless, hypocritical face of his drawn out long like an accordion; but I know he grins all the way down stairs, and is glad I have broken my leg. Was not my evil star in the very zenith when I ran up to town to attend that dinner at Delmonico’s? I didn’t come up altogether for that. It was partly to buy Frank Livingstone’s roan mare Margot. And now I shall not be able to sit in the saddle these two months. I’ll send the mare down to you at The Pines—is that the name of the place?

Old Dillon fancies that I have something on my mind. He drives me wild with lemons. Lemons for a mind diseased! Nonsense. I am only as restless as the devil under this confinement—a thing I’m not used to. Take a man who has never had so much as a headache or a toothache in his life, strap one of his legs in a section of water-spout, keep him in a room in the city for weeks, with the hot weather turned on, and then expect him to smile and purr and be happy! It is preposterous. I can’t be cheerful or calm.

Your letter is the first consoling thing I have had since my disaster, ten days ago. It really cheered me up for half an hour. Send me a screed, Ned, as often as you can, if you love me. Anything will do. Write me more about that little girl in the hammock. That was very pretty, all that about the Dresden china shepherdess and the pond-lily; the imagery a little mixed, perhaps, but very pretty. I didn’t suppose you had so much sentimental furniture in your upper story. It shows how one may be familiar for years with the reception-room of his neighbor, and never suspect what is directly under his mansard. I supposed your loft stuffed with dry legal parchments, mortgages, and affidavits; you take down a package of manuscript, and lo! there are lyrics and sonnets and canzonettas. You really have a graphic descriptive touch, Edward Delaney, and I suspect you of anonymous love-tales in the magazines.

I shall be a bear until I hear from you again. Tell me all about your pretty inconnue across the road. What is her name? Who is she? Who’s her father? Where’s her mother? Who’s her lover? You cannot imagine how this will occupy me. The more trifling, the better. My imprisonment has weakened me intellectually to such a degree that I find your epistolary gifts quite considerable. I am passing into my second childhood. In a week or two I shall take to India rubber rings and prongs of coral. A silver cup, with an appropriate inscription, would be a delicate attention on your part. In the mean time, write!

Have the entire story read to you here:

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Timon of Athens

Timon of Athens is a play by William Shakespeare. You can read the play online here. This performance is by Seattle's Shakespeare in the Park Company from 1999:

Here's a drink-related screenshot from the feast scene:

Raise a glass and join me at the weekly T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering.

If you're interested in further exploration, here's a 20-minute video on Timon of Athens and the fickleness of one's personal political philosophy:

It has some background on the play itself, including a summary of the plot. He discusses current Trump-related political issues in light of the play. I think he puts forward a false equivalence with regards to the support of investigations into political figures, though, in ignoring whether or not there's legitimate grounds for investigation. I also disagree that being neutral on Trump is some kind of middle ground between loving him and hating him. I have a list of legitimate objections to Trump's behavior in office that don't require broad-stroke hate of him as a person. Current political views need discussing. I'm sure this man would make more sense to me in a fuller presentation.

Here's two minutes on intriguing facts about the play:

Monday, August 24, 2020

In the Red Room

Paul Bowles, image from Wikipedia

In the Red Room is a short story by Paul Bowles. You can read it here. It begins,
When I had a house in Sri Lanka, my parents came out one winter to see me. Originally I had felt some qualms about encouraging their visit. Any one of several things -the constant heat, the unaccustomed food and drinking water, even the presence of a leprosy clinic a quarter of a mile from the house might easily have an adverse effect on them in one way or another. But I had underestimated their resilience; they made a greater show of adaptability than I had thought possible, and seemed entirely content with everything. They claimed not to mind the lack of running water in the bathrooms, and regularly praised the curries prepared by Appuhamy, the resident cook. Both of them being in their seventies, they were not tempted by the more distant or inaccessible points of interest. It was enough for them to stay around the house reading, sleeping, taking twilight dips in the ocean, and going on short trips along the coast by hired car. If the driver stopped unexpectedly at a shrine to sacrifice a coconut, they were delighted, and if they came upon a group of elephants lumbering along the road, the car had to be parked some distance up ahead, so that they could watch them approach and file past. They had no interest in taking photographs, and this spared me what is perhaps the most taxing duty of cicerone: the repeated waits while the ritual between man and machine is observed. They were ideal guests.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Algie the Miner

Algie the Miner is a 1912 short silent film directed by Alice Guy-Blaché. An effeminate man has a year to prove himself man enough to his prospective father-in-law so that the protective father will agree to let him to marry his sweetheart.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

The Summons

The Summons is a John Grisham novel. This is the first book I've read by Grisham that is one of his legal thrillers, and I have to say I'm not a fan if this is typical. I found it predictable, and the few female characters annoyed me. It does have quite a few Memphis connections, which I enjoyed.

from the back of the book:
Once Judge Atlee was a powerful figure in Clanton, Mississippi -a pillar of the community who towered over local law and politics for forty years. Now the judge is a shadow of his former self, a sick, lonely old man who has withdrawn to his sprawling ancestral home. Knowing the end is near, Judge Atlee has issued a summons for his two sons to return to Clanton to discuss his estate. Ray Atlee is the eldest, a Virginia law professor, newly single and still enduring the aftershocks of a surprise divorce. Forrest is Ray's younger brother, who redefines the notion of a family's black sheep.

The summons is typed by the judge himself. on his handsome old stationery, and gives the date and time for Ray and Forrest to appear in his study.Ray reluctantly heads south to his hometown, to the place where he grew up and now prefers to avoid. But the family meeting does not take place. The judge dies too soon, and in doing so leaves behind a shocking secret known only to Ray.

And perhaps someone else.
Publishers Weekly has a negative review.

I've also read Skipping Christmas by this author.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Eastern Bandits

Eastern Bandits is a 2012 Chinese thriller film. We ended up with a used DVD of this film. I wouldn't pay to see it, and I don't see it available any other way.


DVD Talk has a negative review.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

A Haunted House

A Haunted House is a 1921 short story by Virginia Woolf. You can read it online here or here or here:
Whatever hour you woke there was a door shutting. From room to room they went, hand in hand, lifting here, opening there, making sure -a ghostly couple.

“Here we left it,” she said. And he added, “Oh, but here too!” “It’s upstairs,” she murmured. “And in the garden,” he whispered “Quietly,” they said, “or we shall wake them.”

But it wasn’t that you woke us. Oh, no. “They’re looking for it; they’re drawing the curtain, one might say, and so read on a page or two. “Now they’ve found it,” one would be certain, stopping the pencil on the margin. And then, tired of reading, one might rise and see for oneself, the house all empty, the doors standing open, only the wood pigeons bubbling with content and the hum of the threshing machine sounding from the farm. “What did I come in here for? What did I want to find?” My hands were empty. “Perhaps it’s upstairs then?” The apples were in the loft. And so down again, the garden still as ever, only the book had slipped into the grass.

But they had found it in the drawing room. Not that one could ever see them. The window panes reflected apples, reflected roses; all the leaves were green in the glass. If they moved in the drawing room, the apple only turned its yellow side. Yet, the moment after, if the door was opened, spread about the floor, hung upon the walls, pendant from the ceiling—what? My hands were empty. The shadow of a thrush crossed the carpet; from the deepest wells of silence the wood pigeon drew its bubble of sound. “Safe, safe, safe,” the pulse of the house beat softly. “The treasure buried; the room...” the pulse stopped short. Oh, was that the buried treasure?

A moment later the light had faded. Out in the garden then? But the trees spun darkness for a wandering beam of sun. So fine, so rare, coolly sunk beneath the surface the beam I sought always burnt behind the glass. Death was the glass; death was between us; coming to the woman first, hundreds of years ago, leaving the house, sealing all the windows; the rooms were darkened. He left it, left her, went North, went East, saw the stars turned in the Southern sky; sought the house, found it dropped beneath the Downs. “Safe, safe, safe,” the pulse of the house beat gladly. “The Treasure yours.”

The wind roars up the avenue. Trees stoop and bend this way and that. Moonbeams splash and spill wildly in the rain. But the beam of the lamp falls straight from the window. The candle burns stiff and still. Wandering through the house, opening the windows, whispering not to wake us, the ghostly couple seek their joy.

“Here we slept,” she says. And he adds, “Kisses without number.” “Waking in the morning-” “Silver between the trees-” “Upstairs-” “In the garden-” “When summer came-” “In winter snowtime-” The doors go shutting far in the distance, gently knocking like the pulse of a heart.

Nearer they come; cease at the doorway. The wind falls, the rain slides silver down the glass. Our eyes darken; we hear no steps beside us; we see no lady spread her ghostly cloak. His hands shield the lantern. “Look,” he breathes. “Sound asleep. Love upon their lips.”

Stooping, holding their silver lamp above us, long they look and deeply. Long they pause. The wind drives straightly; the flame stoops slightly. Wild beams of moonlight cross both floor and wall, and, meeting, stain the faces bent; the faces pondering; the faces that search the sleepers and seek their hidden joy.

“Safe, safe, safe,” the heart of the house beats proudly. “Long years-” he sighs. “Again you found me.” “Here,” she murmurs, “sleeping; in the garden reading; laughing, rolling apples in the loft. Here we left our treasure-” Stooping, their light lifts the lids upon my eyes. “Safe! safe! safe!” the pulse of the house beats wildly. Waking, I cry “Oh, is this your buried treasure? The light in the heart.”
You can have it read to you here:

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Hidden (2015)

Hidden is a 2015 horror/thriller film. This is fascinating, different in a way you don't often see. It was producer Richard D. Zanuck's last film.


DVD Talk calls it a "mixed bag".

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

The Summer Patio

I'm enjoying some wine The Daughter left for me. She and Her Hubby have moved to Minnesota and -try as they might- couldn't take everything with them.


Meanwhile in Memphis...

This is the view of our patio from the back door:

Here's the view if you're seated in one of the chairs:

A recent rain:

We attracted the attention of a hawk the other day, and that was exciting!

I was nowhere near the window, and the hawk was at the back of the patio, so I couldn't get very clear photos from so far away.

The Younger Son was here and got video:

Then yesterday another one, we think smaller, came:

The sparrows hid in the coleus.

Please join me over at the weekly T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering hosted by Bleubeard and Elizabeth.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Tarzan and the Huntress

Tarzan and the Huntress is a 1947 Johnny Weissmuller movie. This is part of a Tarzan boxed set The Husband picked up at some point, although he picked it up used for much cheaper than the prices I see now. It can be rented on Amazon Prime. Sheffield was 16 at the time and takes on a more adult role in this movie. This seems to have been the last film with Boy in it.


Sunday, August 16, 2020

Beware of the Dog

Beware of the Dog is a short story by Roald Dahl. You can read it online here. It begins,
Down below there was only a vast white undulating sea of cloud. Above there was the sun, and the sun was white like the clouds, because it is never yellow when one looks at it from high in the air.

He was still flying the Spitfire. His right hand was on the stick, and he was working the rudder bar with his left leg alone. It was quite easy. The machine was flying well, and he knew what he was doing.

Everything is fine, he thought. I'm doing all right. I'm doing nicely. I know my way home. I'll be there in half an hour. When I land I shall taxi in and switch off my engine and I shall say, help me to get out, will you. I shall make my voice sound ordinary and natural and none of them will take any notice. Then I shall say, someone help me to get out. I can't do it alone because I've lost one of my legs. They'll all laugh and think that I'm joking, and I shall say, all right, come and have a look, you unbelieving bastards.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

The Devil Rides Out

The Devil Rides Out is a 1968 Hammer horror film directed by Terence Fisher and starring Christopher Lee. You can't go wrong with the Hammer horror films and/or Christopher Lee. This film involves a devil-worshiping occult group and a concerned family friend.

Slant Magazine concludes, "Lee’s performance pushes The Devil Rides Out from being merely one of Hammer’s better films into the territory of horror classic." Variety calls it "a suspenseful pic, with several tough highlights, and gets major effect by playing the subject dead straight and getting similar serious performances from his capable cast."

Empire Online says Lee gives "a memorable and unusual performance as the sorcerer, the hero of the film." Time Out says, "Over the years, this film's reputation has grown enormously, and its cult status must be as high as any horror movie." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics' score of 94%.

Friday, August 14, 2020

A Telephone Call

A Telephone Call is a short story by Dorothy Parker. You can read it online here. It begins,
Please, God, let him telephone me now. Dear God, let him call me now. I won't ask anything else of You, truly I won't. It isn't very much to ask. It would be so little to You, God, such a little, little thing. Only let him telephone now. Please, God. Please, please, please.

If I didn't think about it, maybe the telephone might ring. Sometimes it does that. If I could think of something else. If I could think of something else. Knobby if I counted five hundred by fives, it might ring by that time. I'll count slowly. I won't cheat. And if it rings when I get to three hundred, I won't stop; I won't answer it until I get to five hundred. Five, ten, fifteen, twenty, twenty-five, thirty, thirty-five, forty, forty-five, fifty.... Oh, please ring. Please.

This is the last time I'll look at the clock. I will not look at it again.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

The Limping Man

The Limping Man is a 1953 British film noir starring Lloyd Bridges.

Noir of the Week concludes,
There are some fine scenes in the film, including a television party (remember when people entertained guests if they were lucky enough to own a television set before such home entertainment products were commonplace!) crashed by Frank and Pauline as they flee from the police. Beware the Hollywood ending that mars an otherwise fine and entertaining "B" as in British picture.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Musical 42

I found this on a pole in downtown Memphis.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

All Summer in a Day

All Summer in a Day is a 1954 science fiction short story by Ray Bradbury, one of the saddest stories ever told. You can read it online here. It begins,
"Ready ?"
"Now ?"
"Do the scientists really know? Will it happen today, will it ?"
"Look, look; see for yourself !"

The children pressed to each other like so many roses, so many weeds, intermixed, peering out for a look at the hidden sun.

It rained.

It had been raining for seven years; thousands upon thousands of days compounded and filled from one end to the other with rain, with the drum and gush of water, with the sweet crystal fall of showers and the concussion of storms so heavy they were tidal waves come over the islands. A thousand forests had been crushed under the rain and grown up a thousand times to be crushed again. And this was the way life was forever on the planet Venus, and this was the schoolroom of the children of the rocket men and women who had come to a raining world to set up civilization and live out their lives.

"It’s stopping, it’s stopping !"
"Yes, yes !"

Margot stood apart from them ...


Here's a photo of a pretty little cup I broke years ago:

Sometimes I find it helpful to contemplate depressing situations that aren't political in nature.

Join me at the T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering? Some cheerful company after this Post of Sadness will be just the thing.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Curse of the Pogo Stick

Curse of the Pogo Stick is the 5th book in the Dr. Siri Paiboun mystery series by Colin Cotterill. I'm reading this series in order as I get the books, which I'm asking for as birthday and Christmas presents. The characters are endearing and the plots interesting.

from the back of the book:
Seven female Hmong villagers kidnap Dr. Siri on orders from the village elder who hopes that Yeh Ming, the thousand-year-old shaman who shares the doctor’s body, will consent to exorcise the headman’s daughter. He fears that her soul has been possessed by a demon due to the curse of a mysterious Western artifact. Siri agrees to help and, in so doing, brings to pass a prediction of Auntie Bpoo, a transvestite fortune-teller.
Kirkus Reviews concludes, "with its echoes of Orwell and Waugh, tips more toward social satire than detection, with Cotterill’s ironic pen as sharp as ever." Reviewing the Evidence closes with this: "Even though THE CURSE OF THE POGO STICK and the Dr Siri Paiboun series can be contradictory at times, its uniqueness is one of its main attractions. And I, for one, always look forward to the latest adventure of Dr Siri and his makeshift community."

Mysterious Reviews says,
Curse of the Pogo Stick isn't strictly a whodunit-style mystery (though there are clearly elements present that make it seem like one) but rather a fascinating and absorbing tale of perception and acumen on the part of Siri and, separately, Dtui and Daeng. The story goes off in unexpected and delightful directions and is quite simply a joy to read. The author has a remarkable ability to introduce a rhythm, a cadence as it were, into his narrative.
Seek out Curse of the Pogo Stick: it's one of the year's best novels, mystery or otherwise.
I've also read these:
  1. The Coroner's Lunch
  2. Thirty-Three Teeth
  3. Disco for the Departed
  4. Anarchy and Old Dogs

Sunday, August 09, 2020

Jigsaw (1962)

Jigsaw is a 1962 crime film directed by Val Guest.

Saturday, August 08, 2020

Maud Martha


This month's book challenge calls for a "contemporary" book. I had to look up "contemporary literature" because I was unsure how wide a time span "contemporary" covered. It was helpful to find this definition:
What is Contemporary Literature?

The word contemporary means living, belonging to or occurring in the present. So when we talk about contemporary literature, we are talking about literature that is being written in the now about the now. But what does the now encompass?

Contemporary literature is defined as literature written after World War II through the current day. While this is a vague definition, there is not a clear-cut explanation of this concept -- only interpretation by scholars and academics. While there is some disagreement, most agree that contemporary literature is writing completed after 1940.

Works of contemporary literature reflect a society's social and/or political viewpoints, shown through realistic characters, connections to current events and socioeconomic messages. The writers are looking for trends that illuminate societal strengths and weaknesses to remind society of lessons they should learn and questions they should ask. So when we think of contemporary literature, we cannot simply look at a few themes or settings. Since society changes over time, so do the content and messages of this writing.
but I was still unclear about the subject matter allowed. Wikipedia just limits the definition to a "setting generally after World War II". Other definitions deal with disputes over which works qualify. I did find a list, but finding books that have fallen into the public domain that fit into that timeframe and are available to read online is hard. Or I find it hard anyway.

Maud Martha, the only novel written by Pulitzer Prize winning African American poet Gwendolyn Brooks, was on the list. As it was available for a 14-day loan from the Internet Archive it was an easy choice. Wikipedia says the book
includes a series of vignettes following the title character Maud Martha as she negotiates the passage from childhood to adulthood in black Chicago neighbourhoods
It begins,
What she liked was candy buttons, and books, and painted music (deep blue, or delicate silver) and the west sky; so altering, views from the steps of the back porch; and dandelions.

She would have liked a lotus, or Chinese asters or the Japanese iris, or meadow lilies -yes, he would have liked meadow lilies, because the very word meadow made her breathe more deeply, and either fling her arms or want to fling her arms, depending on who was by, rapturously up to whatever was watching in the sky. But dandelions were what she chiefly saw.
This is a beautifully written book -it's obvious it was written by a poet- and is easy to read. I'd recommend it.

Friday, August 07, 2020

Stranger, Say Your Prayers

Stranger, Say Your Prayers is a 1968 spaghetti western. White City is terrorized by two outlaw brothers and their gang. And then the bounty hunter comes to town. It's fun enough, but I'd not have paid to watch it, and that's the only way I see it available now.

trailer in Italian:

Thursday, August 06, 2020

Little Man

Little Man is a 2015 short story by Michael Cunningham. It is part of a collection of fairy tale re-imaginings. This one is inspired by Rumpelstiltskin. You can read it online here. It begins,
What if you had a child?

If you had a child, your life would be about more than getting through the various holiday rushes, and wondering exactly how insane Mrs. Witters in Accounts Payable is going to be on any given day.

Wednesday, August 05, 2020

The Flying Serpent

The Flying Serpent is a 1946 fantasy/horror film directed by Sam Newfield and starring George Zucco. This text scrolls at the beginning:
Near the little city of San Juan, New Mexico, stand the Aztec ruins. Archeologists tell us they are the remains of a once great temple, abandoned by the Aztecs when they migrated south to the Valley of Mexico, where they founded a rich empire. To defeat the greed of Cortez and his Spanish adventurers who had inaugurated a campaign of loot and murder, the wiley Emperor Montezuma hid his fabulous treasure far to the north and implored his native gods to guard it.

Among these gods was the feathered serpent -Quetzalcoatl.
At not quite an hour, it's quick and easy to watch:

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

Destination Murder


by James Tissot, who died suddenly on August 8, 1902, at the age of 65.

Perhaps after tea, we can watch a movie. Destination Murder is a 1950 film noir crime film.

The reviews are mixed, but it's just over an hour long so worth it to me to check it out.

Monday, August 03, 2020

Frankenstein; or the Modern Prometheus

Frankenstein; or the Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley is an 1818 novel, a tale of pride and horror. If you haven't read it don't let the horror film adaptations turn you off. Read it for yourself here or here. It begins:
Letter 1
To Mrs. Saville, England.

St. Petersburgh, Dec. 11th, 17—.

You will rejoice to hear that no disaster has accompanied the commencement of an enterprise which you have regarded with such evil forebodings. I arrived here yesterday, and my first task is to assure my dear sister of my welfare and increasing confidence in the success of my undertaking.

I am already far north of London, and as I walk in the streets of Petersburgh, I feel a cold northern breeze play upon my cheeks, which braces my nerves and fills me with delight. Do you understand this feeling? This breeze, which has travelled from the regions towards which I am advancing, gives me a foretaste of those icy climes. Inspirited by this wind of promise, my daydreams become more fervent and vivid. I try in vain to be persuaded that the pole is the seat of frost and desolation; it ever presents itself to my imagination as the region of beauty and delight. There, Margaret, the sun is for ever visible, its broad disk just skirting the horizon and diffusing a perpetual splendour. There —for with your leave, my sister, I will put some trust in preceding navigators— there snow and frost are banished; and, sailing over a calm sea, we may be wafted to a land surpassing in wonders and in beauty every region hitherto discovered on the habitable globe. Its productions and features may be without example, as the phenomena of the heavenly bodies undoubtedly are in those undiscovered solitudes. What may not be expected in a country of eternal light? I may there discover the wondrous power which attracts the needle and may regulate a thousand celestial observations that require only this voyage to render their seeming eccentricities consistent for ever. I shall satiate my ardent curiosity with the sight of a part of the world never before visited, and may tread a land never before imprinted by the foot of man. These are my enticements, and they are sufficient to conquer all fear of danger or death and to induce me to commence this laborious voyage with the joy a child feels when he embarks in a little boat, with his holiday mates, on an expedition of discovery up his native river. But supposing all these conjectures to be false, you cannot contest the inestimable benefit which I shall confer on all mankind, to the last generation, by discovering a passage near the pole to those countries, to reach which at present so many months are requisite; or by ascertaining the secret of the magnet, which, if at all possible, can only be effected by an undertaking such as mine.

These reflections have dispelled the agitation with which I began my letter, and I feel my heart glow with an enthusiasm which elevates me to heaven, for nothing contributes so much to tranquillise the mind as a steady purpose—a point on which the soul may fix its intellectual eye. This expedition has been the favourite dream of my early years. I have read with ardour the accounts of the various voyages which have been made in the prospect of arriving at the North Pacific Ocean through the seas which surround the pole. You may remember that a history of all the voyages made for purposes of discovery composed the whole of our good Uncle Thomas’ library. My education was neglected, yet I was passionately fond of reading. These volumes were my study day and night, and my familiarity with them increased that regret which I had felt, as a child, on learning that my father’s dying injunction had forbidden my uncle to allow me to embark in a seafaring life.
There's a Librivox dramatic reading here, where you can hear the entire book:

Sunday, August 02, 2020


Tobermory is a short story by Saki. You can read it online here. It begins,
It was a chill, rain-washed afternoon of a late August day, that indefinite season when partridges are still in security or cold storage, and there is nothing to hunt—unless one is bounded on the north by the Bristol Channel, in which case one may lawfully gallop after fat red stags. Lady Blemley's house-party was not bounded on the north by the Bristol Channel, hence there was a full gathering of her guests round the tea-table on this particular afternoon. And, in spite of the blankness of the season and the triteness of the occasion, there was no trace in the company of that fatigued restlessness which means a dread of the pianola and a subdued hankering for auction bridge. The undisguised openmouthed attention of the entire party was fixed on the homely negative personality of Mr. Cornelius Appin. Of all her guests, he was the one who had come to Lady Blemley with the vaguest reputation. Some one had said he was "clever," and he had got his invitation in the moderate expectation, on the part of his hostess, that some portion at least of his cleverness would be contributed to the general entertainment. Until tea-time that day she had been unable to discover in what direction, if any, his cleverness lay. He was neither a wit nor a croquet champion, a hypnotic force nor a begetter of amateur theatricals. Neither did his exterior suggest the sort of man in whom women are willing to pardon a generous measure of mental deficiency. He had subsided into mere Mr. Appin, and the Cornelius seemed a piece of transparent baptismal bluff. And now he was claiming to have launched on the world a discovery beside which the invention of gunpowder, of the printing-press, and of steam locomotion were inconsiderable trifles. Science had made bewildering strides in many directions during recent decades, but this thing seemed to belong to the domain of miracle rather than to scientific achievement. "And do you really ask us to believe," Sir Wilfrid was saying, "that you have discovered a means for instructing animals in the art of human speech, and that dear old Tobermory has proved your first successful pupil?"

Saturday, August 01, 2020

The Misfits

The Misfits is a 1961 western written by Arthur Miller, directed by John Huston, and starring Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, Montgomery Clift, Thelma Ritter, Eli Wallach, and Kevin McCarthy.


BFI explains what went into making it a classic and says, "As it happened, it turned out to be the last completed film for both Gable (who died just 10 days after filming finished) and Monroe (who lived on for another year and a half). For his part, Clift had only two further major roles before his own demise in 1966." FilmSite has an article describing it as "a poignant drama about the death of the old West". The Guardian gives it 4 out of 5 stars.

TCM has information. Rotten Tomatoes has a positive critics consensus of 100%.