Sunday, July 23, 2017

Naked Lunch

Naked Lunch is a 1991 award-winning science fiction film, an adaptation of the William S. Burroughs book. It is directed by David Cronenberg and stars Peter Weller, Judy Davis, Ian Holm, and Roy Scheider.


New York Times says, "It's hard to imagine another film maker who could delve so deeply into the monstrousness of Mr. Burroughs's vision". Rolling Stone says, "Cronenberg whose screenplay for the film won the 1991 New York Film Critics Award has turned Burroughs's densely fragmented novel into a pungently comic and inventive spellbinder about the act of writing, incorporating Burroughs's life in the mix." Slant Magazine says this: "David Cronenberg’s Naked Lunch is a surreal experience that’s heightened further by disguising itself within a veneer of classical stateliness ... a prodigious tonal achievement that blurs reality and the hallucinatory".

Roger Ebert says,
in a recent documentary about his life, Burroughs came across as a man who walks around with something wounded inside, something that hurts so much that his spirit simply shut down.

That aspect of Burroughs is celebrated at feature length in “Naked Lunch,”
Empire Online concludes, "Provocative, but never as clever as it thinks it is". TimeOut closes with this: "Burroughs purists may be disappointed, but this dark distillation of the novel's themes gets closer to its essence than any 'straight' adaptation could hope to do." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 71%.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Blues Hall of Fame Museum

photo from Wikipedia

The Blues Hall of Fame Museum opened in downtown Memphis 2 years ago, but I had never been. A few days ago The Daughter and I went. From the website:
Our visitors will enjoy 10 individualized galleries with interactive touchscreen displays along with three master databases where they can hear the music, watch videos, and read the stories of each of our inductees. In addition, each gallery houses one-of-a-kind memorabilia..
Enter at street level and enjoy the free exhibits in the lobby before you go down to the museum proper.

We thoroughly enjoyed it and will certainly go back. I'm including photos of just a few of the musicians and some of their music.

They had Alberta Hunter's Amtrak Blues album on display, and that was always one of my favorites.

If you're not familiar with it, you can listen to one of the songs here:

Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite

on Get Up!

Bobby "Blue" Bland

singing his I Pity the Fool:

Bobby Rush

singing Porcupine Meat:

Johnny Winter

on his Tired of Tryin':

Lead Belly

singing Midnight Special (1944):

Lightenin' Hopkins

on Baby, Please Don't Go:

Mavis Staples

sings Down in Mississippi:

W. C. Handy

plays his St. Louis Blues:

It's a fascinating place! We could've stayed all day and listened to every musical track they had available, but we got hungry so walked down to Beale Street for lunch.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Chungking Express

Chungking Express is a 1994 Hong Kong film. It's structured in an unusual way and consists of 2 separate stories with only incidental overlap as one ends and the other begins. Fascinating.


The New York Times has a review. Slant Magazine gives it 3.5 out of 4 stars and says it "is among Wong’s most exciting films and is an early precursor to the expressive odes to romantic longing that have come to define his work." Rolling Stone says, "His hypnotic images of love and loss finally wear down your resistance as seemingly discordant sights and sounds coalesce into a radiant, crazy quilt that can make you laugh in awe at its technical wizardry in one scene and pierce your heart in the next."

TimeOut says, "This is what Godard movies were once like: fast, hand-held, funny and very, very catchy." The Chicago Tribune says it "is a breezy little Hong Kong movie that has more life, energy, humanity and sheer visual zing than most other shows you'll see in a month or so." Empire Online closes with this: "Wong's dreamlike tone and Doyle's stunning cinematography make this strange love story a joy to watch."

Roger Ebert says
This is the kind of movie you'll relate to if you love film itself, rather than its surface aspects such as story and stars. It's not a movie for casual audiences, and it may not reveal all its secrets the first time through, but it announces Wong Kar-Wai, its Hong Kong-based director, as a filmmaker in the tradition of Jean-Luc Godard.
Rotten Tomatoes has a 90% critics score.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Critical Thinking

Today is International Chess Day. Chess is a game that requires the ability to think critically and logically.

Today is also the anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

The connection between these two things may not be obvious, but in these days of wild-eyed conspiracy theorists who spread crazy tales folks just believe because they "trust the source"... Well, I'd just like to say that yes, people have landed on the moon. I understand confirmation bias and realize that the more evidence that's provided the more people cling to their tin foil hat opinions, but I do wish our culture was more supportive of critical thinking and less willing to accept whatever we're being fed by the talking heads and the raving talk radio loons.

There are free resources online that are useful in learning about logic and critical thinking and in developing skills in those areas., the University of Michigan, and Wikipedia have good overviews and are good places to start.

Wikihow has some clear steps to take to develop your critical thinking skills:

Method 1 Honing Your Questioning Skills
1 Question your assumptions.
2 Don't take information on authority until you've investigated it yourself.
3 Question things.

Method 2 Adjusting Your Perspective
1 Understand your own biases.
2 Think several moves ahead.
3 Read great books.
4 Put yourself in other peoples' shoes.
5 Set aside at least 30 minutes a day to improve your brain function.

Method 3 Putting It All Together
1 Understand all your options.
2 Surround yourself with people smarter than you.
3 Fail until you succeed. offers a "cheat sheet" of questions to ask to evaluate information:

I'm tired of hearing, "I don't have time to research this, but I trust the source and I do have time to spread it all over Facebook," and "Where there's smoke there's fire," and "Many people say this is true." Think, people! Think!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A Nightmare on Elm Street

A Nightmare on Elm Street is a 1984 horror film, first in a long-running franchise. I had never seen it before, and I've never seen any of the sequels. Freddy Krueger, with his knife-like fingers, comes in your dreams. There's no escape. It is directed by Wes Craven and stars John Saxon and Robert Englund. This was Johnny Depp's screen debut. He has a major role as the boyfriend of our heroine. A good movie with an interesting ending, this is definitely worth watching for several reasons.

The NYT has a review from the time of the film's release that says, "puts more emphasis on bizarre special effects, which aren't at all bad." Moria gives it 4 out of 5 stars and says, "Wes Craven evinces a genuine wildness to the visions he unleashes". 1000 Misspent Hoursalso gives it 4 out of 5 stars and has a detailed plot description. has some screen shots.

Empire Online says,
Craven based the whole thing on a true story. The film stemmed from a series of articles in an LA paper about a group of Southeast Asian kids, all from the same neighbourhood, who died mysteriously in their sleep after a string of vivid nightmares. They probably weren't massacred by a stiletto-fingered sicko in a rugby shirt. But even so,
Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 94%.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Reading Sailor

Reading Sailor (1980):

by Yannis Tsarouchis, a Greek painter who died on July 20, 1989, at age 79.

I won't be around for the T Stands for Tuesday blog gathering today, but I am scheduling a drink-related post in case anybody happens by.

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Redbreast

The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo is the 3rd book in the Harry Hole detective series. I'll pick up more as I come across them. I'm enjoying the characters and writing so far.

from the back of the book:
Detective Harry Hole embarrassed the force, and for his sins he's been reassigned to mundane surveillance tasks. But while monitoring neo-Nazi activities in Oslo, Hole is inadvertantly drawn into a mystery with deep roots in Norway's dark past -when members of the nation's government willingly collaborated with Nazi Germany. More than sixty years later, this black mark won't wash away,
and disgraced old soldiers who once survived a brutal Russian winter are being murdered, one by one. Now, with only a stained and guilty conscience to guide him, an angry, alcoholic, error-prone policeman must make his way safely past the traps and mirrors of a twisted criminal mind.
For a hideous conspiracy is rapidly taking shape around Hole -and Norway's darkest hour may still be to come.
The Washington Post calls it
a fine novel, ambitious in concept, skillful in execution and grown-up in its view of people and events. In important ways it's also a political novel, one concerned with the threat of fascism, in Norway and by implication everywhere. All in all, "The Redbreast" certainly ranks with the best of current American crime fiction.
The New York Times describes it as "an elegant and complex thriller".

I've also read the first 2 books in this series:
The Bat

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day is a 2008 romantic comedy based on a book I enjoyed. Oddly enough, I like this movie even better. It stars Frances McDormand, Amy Adams, CiarĂ¡n Hinds, and Lee Pace.


The New York Times calls it "an example of how a little nothing of a story can be inflated into a little something of a movie with perfect casting, dexterous tonal manipulation and an astute eye and ear for detail." The Chicago Tribune opens a positive review with this: "bright, frothy slice of comic delight in the old-school style, "Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day" proves that they can make them like they used to, if only they try." Empire Online gives it 4 out of 5 stars and says it's "A charming 1930s Cinderella meets Sex And The City, only faster, funnier and male-friendly, with some depths in its subtler observations of morality."

Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 77%.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Orphan Master's Son

The Orphan Master's Son is a 2012 novel by Adam Johnson. It's an interesting view of North Korea for me. I don't recall ever having read a novel that took place there, and all I know of the country is what I see in the news. This adds a more personal perspective.

from the back of the book:
Pak Jun Do is the haunted son of a lost mother -a singer "stolen" to Pyongyang- and an influential father who runs a work camp for orphans. Superiors in the North Korean state soon recognize the boy's loyalty and keen instincts. Considering himself "a humble citizen of the greatest nation in the world," Jun Do rises in the ranks. He becomes a professional kidnapper who must navigate the shifting rules, arbitrary violence, and baffling demands of his overlords in order to stay alive. Driven to the absolute limit of what any human being could endure, he boldly takes on the treacherous role of rival to Kim Jun Il in an attempt to save the woman he loves, Sun Moon, a legendary actress "so pure, she didn't know what starving people looked like."

In this epic, critically acclaimed tour de force, Adam Johnson provides a riveting portrait of a world rife with hunger, corruption, and casual cruelty but also camaraderie, stolen moments of beauty, and love.
There's a 42 in this book, though it's not the answer to anything:
We were finalizing a month-long interrogation of a professor from Kaesong when a rumor spread through the building that Commander Ga had been apprehended and was here, in custody, in our own Division 42.
It would've been easy to get the professor to confess, but that's not us, we don't work that way. You see, Division 42 is really two divisions.
In this book Division 42 is a place for torture. No useful answers at all come from such a place.

This meets one of my reading challenges, as it won a fairly recent Pulitzer Prize. Reviews are positive.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Links to Exercise Plans

Exercise With Dumbbells Symbol clip art

I'm continuing to gather resources, although I find myself remembering enough exercises to make up a routine without using any of them as I exercise. I continue to do yoga every day and weight training 3 days a week. I wish I could afford a personal trainer, but I'm grateful for the information freely available online. has an illustrated list of 10 that provide a whole body workout (though I don't do the last one at all) that is very doable and includes instructions for increasing the difficulty level as you are able. They also have a 30-minute whole body exercise plan. It's 16 steps, and I don't do #s 14 or 15. has an exercise plan that's easy to do and helpful in strengthening the whole body. There are 15 exercises in the series, and they include some old favorites like the bridge and the pelvic tilt and squats and some I'd never done before. has lists of appropriate exercises for people with osteoporosis. They are divided into ability levels and most -but not all- have links to instructions. There are numerous videos demonstrating the exercises she recommends at her Youtube channel.