Friday, December 31, 2021

A Long Shadow

A Long Shadow is the 8th book in the Inspector Ian Rutledge mystery series by Charles Todd. This series is one of my favorites, and I get them for presents because The Husband is good to me. They should be read in order.

from the back of the book:
Scotland Yard's Inspector Ian Rutledge brought the Great War home with him, and its horrors haunt him still. On New Year's Eve 1919, he finds a brass cartridge casing, similar to countless others he'd seen on the battlefield, on the step of a friend's house. Soon there are more, purposely placed where he is sure to discover them.

Unexpectedly drawn away from London to a small Northamptonshire village, he investigates the strange case of a local constable shot with a bow and arrow in an allegedly spirit-filled wood. Here among the taciturn townfolk, embroiled in a three-year-old mystery of a vanished young girl, Rutledge hopes to keep his own ghosts at bay.

But his stalker has followed him. And now the emotionally shattered policeman walking the razor's edge of sanity must somehow keep his balance long enough to discoverwho is tracking him ... and why.
Reviewing the Evidence says,
A LONG SHADOW is a seamless, substantive tale of secrets and lies, of hidden truths and heartaches. Charles Todd has once again delivered an eloquent story of suspense with a fluid style and absorbing prose on a foundation of setting so luxurious and characters so vivid I find it hard not to get lost in Rutledge's post-war world.
Kirkus Reviews has a review with a thorough plot description. Publishers Weekly says, "Todd's plotting and characterization are, as usual, first-rate, and the tormented motivations behind the novel's dark acts are presented with a sensitivity and refinement reminiscent of the best of P.D. James."

Thursday, December 30, 2021

The Christmas Song

The Christmas Song:


sung by Ricky Nelson, who died in a plane crash on New Year's Eve in 1985 at the age of 45.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Feast of the Holy Innocents

Peter Paul Rubens, Massacre of the Innocents

The Feast of the Holy Innocents is the Christian observance of Herod the Great, king of Judea, ordering the execution of all male children two years old and under in the vicinity of Bethlehem in his attempt to kill the infant Jesus. Told in the book of Matthew, chapter 2:
16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men.

17 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying,

18 In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not. -Matthew 2:16-18 (King James Version)
The Christmas story ain't all sweetness and light, folks. Let's give some thought to those who suffer in these days as we go about our holiday activities. We can enjoy our celebrations while still considering the darker aspects of our history.

Please join us at the T Stands for Tuesday blogger party, where I'm sure happier thoughts will prevail.

Monday, December 27, 2021

Rich Little's Christmas Carol

Rich Little's Christmas Carol is a 1978 retelling of the Dickens story. It is a one-man performance with Rich Little playing all the roles impersonating famous people. Not my thing. I don't care for impersonators, I'm not a W.C. Fields fan and he's Scrooge, there's a lame laugh track... I found it too painful to finish.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

At Christmas Time

At Christmas Time is a 1900 short story by Anton Chekhov. You can read it online here or listen to it read to you (in a different translation) at the bottom of this post. It begins:
"What shall I write ? " asked Yegor, dipping his pen in the ink.

Vasilissa had not seen her daughter for four years. Efimia had gone away to St. Petersburg with her husband after her wedding, had written two letters, and then had vanished as if the earth had engulfed her, not a word nor a sound had come from her since. So now, whether the aged mother was milking the cow at daybreak, or lighting the stove, or dozing at night, the tenor of her thoughts was always the same: "How is Efimia ? Is she alive and well ? " She wanted to send her a letter, but the old father could not write, and there was no one whom they could ask to write it for them.

But now Christmas had come, and Vasilissa could endure the silence no longer.

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Merry Christmas!

Here's my Spotify Christmas playlist:

Spotify is free and easy to use, especially on a computer. Sign up here at this link.

I hope your Christmas is a time of peace and joy for you and yours.

Friday, December 24, 2021

Bertie's Christmas Eve

Bertie's Christmas Eve is a short story by Saki. You can read it online here. You can listen to it read to you at the bottom of this post. It begins,
It was Christmas Eve, and the family circle of Luke Steffink, Esq., was aglow with the amiability and random mirth which the occasion demanded. A long and lavish dinner had been partaken of, waits had been round and sung carols; the house-party had regaled itself with more caroling on its own account, and there had been romping which, even in a pulpit reference, could not have been condemned as ragging. In the midst of the general glow, however, there was one black unkindled cinder.

Bertie Steffink, nephew of the aforementioned Luke, had early in life adopted the profession of ne'er-do-weel; his father had been something of the kind before him. At the age of eighteen Bertie had commenced that round of visits to our Colonial possessions, so seemly and desirable in the case of a Prince of the Blood, so suggestive of insincerity in a young man of the middle-class. He had gone to grow tea in Ceylon and fruit in British Columbia, and to help sheep to grow wool in Australia. At the age of twenty he had just returned from some similar errand in Canada, from which it may be gathered that the trial he gave to these various experiments was of the summary drum-head nature. Luke Steffink, who fulfilled the troubled role of guardian and deputy-parent to Bertie, deplored the persistent manifestation of the homing instinct on his nephew's part, and his solemn thanks earlier in the day for the blessing of reporting a united family had no reference to Bertie's return.

Arrangements had been promptly made for packing the youth off to a distant corner of Rhodesia, whence return would be a difficult matter; the journey to this uninviting destination was imminent, in fact a more careful and willing traveller would have already begun to think about his packing. Hence Bertie was in no mood to share in the festive spirit which displayed itself around him, and resentment smouldered within him at the eager, self-absorbed discussion of social plans for the coming months which he heard on all sides. Beyond depressing his uncle and the family circle generally by singing "Say au revoir, and not good-bye," he had taken no part in the evening's conviviality.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

The Christmas Chronicles

The Christmas Chronicles is a 2018 film starring Kurt Russell as Santa. I watched it on Netflix. You can't go wrong with Kurt Russell. If you like the feel-good holiday fare that's become so common these days -and maybe even if you don't- you'll like this. It's fun to see something different that's nicely done, even if it will never be an annual classic.


Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Give Peace a Chance

Give Peace a Chance:


in memory of Joe Cocker, who died on this date in 2014 at age 70.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Bundle of Joy

Bundle of Joy is a 1956 film starring Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher. It takes place during the Christmas season.

I watched it free on YouTube, but it's not there now. It can be rented online but isn't freely available anywhere that I can find. So many videos are available for a while and then gone but available at another site. It's hard to keep up.


My favorite Christmas movies tend to be older ones, but I had never even heard of this one 'til I happened across it in a list online. I have quite a few tried and true seasonal favorites on disc so I can watch them anytime I like. I have a list here at this link of Christmas movies I've seen, and some of them are still available free. There's such a variety out there from romance to horror, from short TV episodes to long films, from lighthearted comedy to serious drama, and I'd imagine that there's something out there for everyone. You might not like what I do -after all, I don't like It's a Wonderful Life- but surely there's something that'll please you. I hope so.

Will you join me for a seasonal cuppa while we each find a seasonal entertainment that suits us?

There's a weekly T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering that welcomes any blogger with a drink-related post to share. I'll be there.

Monday, December 20, 2021

Blood from a Stone

image from Amazon

Blood from a Stone is the 14th book in the Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery series by Donna Leon. It takes place during the Christmas holiday season. I enjoy this series, her writing, the characters, the plots... They do not need to be read in order.

from the back of the book:
On a cold night shortly before Christmas, a Senegalese street vendor is killed in Venice's Campo Santo Stefano. The nearesr witnesses to the death re the tourists who have been browsing the man's wares -fake handbags of every designer label- but they have seen nothing that might be of help to the police. When Commissario Guido Brunetti arrives on the scene, he finds it hard to understand why anyone would murder an illegal immigrant. They have few social connections and little money, so infighting among them seems the obvious answer. But once Brunetti begins investigating this unfamilar underworld, he discovers that matters of grear value are at stake in the community.
Kirkus Reviews calls it "Leon’s most adroit balance of teasing mystery...". Italian Mysteries concludes its review with this: "This book is a must read. Donna Leon is such a marvelous writer."

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Saturday, December 18, 2021


Markheim is a short story by Robert Louis Stevenson. You can read it online at this link or listen to it read to you at the bottom of this post. It opens on Christmas Day. It begins,
"Yes," said the dealer, "our windfalls are of various kinds. Some customers are ignorant, and then I touch a dividend on my superior knowledge. Some are dishonest," and here he held up the candle, so that the light fell strongly on his visitor, "and in that case," he continued, "I profit by my virtue."

Markheim had but just entered from the daylight streets, and his eyes had not yet grown familiar with the mingled shine and darkness in the shop. At these pointed words, and before the near presence of the flame, he blinked painfully and looked aside.

The dealer chuckled. "You come to me on Christmas Day," he resumed, "when you know that I am alone in my house, put up my shutters, and make a point of refusing business. Well, you will have to pay for that; you will have to pay for my loss of time, when I should be balancing my books; you will have to pay, besides, for a kind of manner that I remark in you to-day very strongly. I am the essence of discretion, and ask no awkward questions; but when a customer cannot look me in the eye, he has to pay for it." The dealer once more chuckled; and then, changing to his usual business voice, though still with a note of irony, "You can give, as usual, a clear account of how you came into the possession of the object?" he continued. "Still your uncle's cabinet? A remarkable collector, sir!"

Friday, December 17, 2021

L.A. Confidential

L.A. Confidential is a 1997 award-winning neo-noir crime drama starring Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, James Cromwell, David Strathairn, Kim Basinger, and Danny DeVito. I watched it with adds at this Amazon Prime link. It takes place during the Christmas season.


Thursday, December 16, 2021

Await Further Instructions

Await Further Instructions is a 2018 horror film about a Christmas family reunion that goes from tense and awkward to horrifying when they start receiving instructions through the television set. I watched it on Netflix.


Roger Ebert's website says it has a great premise, but that it
starts off like a classic episode of Rod Serling's searing, imaginative "The Twilight Zone," but ends like a feature-length installment of Forest Whitaker's unfocused, dismal "The Twilight Zone."
Rotten Tomatoes has a critics consensus score of 81%.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

My Night at Maud's

*note: We did not get damage from the tornadoes that went through Tennessee, but we did lose power from Friday night to Monday afternoon. I can access Facebook and Twitter on my phone, but I don't have Blogger set up that way. My FB peeps heard the Sad Saga of the lightless, heatless, waterless days and nights, and you might well count yourselves lucky to have missed out on my whining. I don't use blogger that way. I've missed y'all and hope to catch up soon!


My Night at Maud's is a 1969 French New Wave drama film directed by Éric Rohmer. It takes place during the Christmas holiday season. I watched it on HBO Max.


Roger Ebert opens a positive review by saying,
Eric Rohmer's "My Night at Maud's" is about love, being a Roman Catholic, body language and the games people play. It is just about the best movie I've seen on all four subjects. It is also, a refreshingly intelligent movie: not that it's ideological or academic (far from it) but that it is thoughtful, and reveals a deep knowledge of human nature.
Rotten Tomatoes has a critics consensus score of 95%. It's included in the book 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.

Here's a screenshot for the folks participating in the T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering:

Monday, December 13, 2021

A Very Murray Christmas

A Very Murray Christmas is a 2015 musical variety-style show. I watched it on Netflix.


Sunday, December 12, 2021

The Boat of a Million Years

The Boat of a Million Years is a science fiction novel by Poul Anderson. from Wikipedia:
The novel follows a group of eleven immortals from the ancient past to the distant future. Most of the novel follows the various immortals throughout their lives as they try to find others like themselves, avoid being killed, and remain quiet about their gift.
There's one scene that happens at Christmas:
Yet another Christmas drew nigh, in the ship's chronology. It was meaningless to ask if it did on Earth just then -doubly meaningless, given the physics here and the forgottenness yonder. Hanno came upon Svoboda hanging ornaments in the common room. Evergreen boughs from the nanoprocessors were fresh and fragrant, bejeweled with berries of holly. They seemed as forlorn as the Danish carolsfrom the speakers.
Publishers Weekly has a plot description. SFF180 says, "The Boat of a Million Years lives up to the grandiosity of its title." Kirkus Reviews doesn't like Anderson's writing style. Worlds Without End concludes by calling it "a solidly satisfying work".

Saturday, December 11, 2021

"A Christmas Story" (1966)

A Christmas Story is the 15th episode of the 8th season of the Bonanza TV series. It aired in 1966.

Friday, December 10, 2021

Comfort and Joy (1984)

Comfort and Joy is a 1984 Scottish comedy film.

Rotten Tomatoes has a critics consensus score of 100%.

Thursday, December 09, 2021

"Christmas" (1953)

"Christmas" is a 1953 episode of the Make Room for Daddy TV series.

Wednesday, December 08, 2021

The Lemon Drop Kid

The Lemon Drop Kid is a 1951 Bob Hope comedy. It takes place during the Christmas holiday season. The song Silver Bells was introduced in this film.

Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Christmas on the Square

Christmas on the Square is a 2020 musical film starring Dolly Parton. It's sweet, but I liked it anyway. 😉 It's got a lot of seasonal spirit. I watched it on Netflix.


Please join me in a cozy cuppa as we watch:

and then we can visit with the participants in the weekly T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering.

Monday, December 06, 2021

The Holly and the Ivy (1952)

The Holly and the Ivy is a 1952 British family drama film that takes place during the Christmas holiday season.

Sunday, December 05, 2021

Jangle Bells

Jangle Bells is a 1960 Christmas episode of the television series The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.

Saturday, December 04, 2021

Blast of Silence

Blast of Silence is a 1961 neo-noir that takes place during the Christmas holiday season.

Friday, December 03, 2021

Black Christmas (1974)

Black Christmas is a 1974 horror movie that takes place during the Christmas season. It stars Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea, Margot Kidder, and John Saxon. For those who go out of their way to avoid sweet and sentimental Christmas fare, this one's for you. You can watch it free on Tubi or below via Daily Motion:

Thursday, December 02, 2021

Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Beauty's Worth

Beauty's Worth is a 1922 romantic comedy silent film that has a scene which takes place under a Christmas tree.

DVD Talk recommends it.