Thursday, May 24, 2018


Mercury is a 2016 novel by Margot Livesey. I came across this used and picked it up not knowing anything about the book or the author. I found this a fascinating look at how little we really know even the people closest to us and how disastrous keeping secrets can be. I'll definitely look for more books by Livesey. You can read an excerpt here.

from the book:
Donald believes he knows all there is to know about seeing. An optometrist in suburban Boston, he is sure that he and his wife, Viv, who runs the local stables, are both devoted to their two children and to each other. Then Mercury -a gorgeous young thoroughbred with a murky past- arrives at Windy Hill, and everything changes.

Hilary, a newcomer to town, has inherited Mercury from her brother after his mysterious death. When she first brings Mercury to board at Windy Hill, everyone is struck by his beauty and prowess, particularly Viv. As she rides him, Viv begins to dream of competing again, embracing the ambitions that she harbored before she settled for a career in finance. Her daydreams soon morph into consuming desire, and her infatuation with the thoroughbred escalates into obsession.

Donald may have 20/20 vision, but he is slow to notice how profoundly Viv has changed and how these changes threaten their quiet, secure world. By the time he does, it is too late to stop the catastrophic collision of Viv's ambitions and his own myopia.
The New York Times closes with this:
This is, in the end, less a book about mercurial change than mundane mismatch. There are the incongruities between the husband’s and the wife’s understanding of their marriage. There’s the difference between Viv’s aspirations and what the quotidian constraints of her life allow. And you could say that the novel suffers from a similiar flaw. It’s a book that doesn’t quite measure up to its ambitions.
The Boston Globe concludes,
In constructing a narrator who is at once transparent (he reveals so much of himself, his limitations and his puzzlement over them, to the reader) and opaque (he is frequently emotionally unavailable to the people around him and even to himself), Livesey roots tension not just in the bones but in the very marrow of the book. In the end, this is not so much a crime novel as a novel about a trial: the story of one man’s austere endeavor to hold himself to account.
The New Yorker says, "The novel explores themes of honesty and understanding by showing the impact that obsessions—grief, rapacity—can have on a marriage." Kirkus Reviews closes with this: "Uncharacteristically dark, yet more evidence of Livesey’s formidable gifts."

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The Expendables 3

The Expendables 3 is an action movie, 3rd in a series, which balances seriousness with light humor in perfect proportion.


Rolling Stone concludes, "The Expendables 3, trading on our affection for action stars of the past, has officially worn out its already shaky welcome." Empire Online gives it 3 out of 5 stars. Roger Ebert's site gives it 3 out of 4 stars and says, "Unlike most film series, “The Expendables III” sows the seeds for its own youthful reboot." Variety calls it "The latest, longest and least necessary entry in this increasingly expendable action franchise."

Rotten Tomatoes has an audience score of 49%.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Artist in Her Studio

I am recovering from a concussion and not able to participate online hardly at all right now. 
Except for some dizziness I'm fine, but the dizziness makes computer use difficult. 
I'm glad I have so many scheduled posts lined up!
I expect to be back soon.

Artist in Her Studio (1905):

by Charles Camoin, associated with Fauvism, who died on May 20, 1965. When the artist in the painting above is ready for a break, she can take the bottle on that table over to this table:

Still Life with the Window of the Workshop Open to the Port of Saint Tropez

There is a short biography online here. You can see more of his work here.

Monday, May 21, 2018

The Dinner

The Dinner is a 2009 book by Dutch author Herman Koch, translated into English and published in the U.S.A. in 2013. It's been adapted for film, but I haven't seen the movie. The book takes place in the summer. There are no likable characters here, from children to adults. They are ugly, self-centered, vile, and dangerous people. And that's during dinner at a fancy restaurant. I found it fascinating, a look at what people are willing to do to protect the lives they think they are living.

from the back of the book:
It's a summer's evening in Amsterdam, and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant for dinner. Between mouthfuls of food and over the scrapings of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of polite discourse. But behind the empty words, terrible things need to be said, and with every forced smile and every new course, the knives are being sharpened.

Each couple has a fifteen-year-old son. The two boys are united by their accountability for a single horrific act -an act that has triggered a police investigation and shattered the comfortable, insulated worlds of their families. As the dinner reaches its culinary climax, the conversation finally touches on their children, and as civility and friendship disintegrate, each couple shows just how far they are prepared to go to protect those they love.

Skewering everything from parenting values to pretentious menus to political convictions, this novel reveals the dark side of genteel society and asks what each of us would do in the face of unimaginable tragedy.
The New York Times says, "The success of “The Dinner” depends, in part, on the carefully calibrated revelations of its unreliable and increasingly unsettling narrator, Paul Lohman. Whatever else he may be, likable he is not" and calls it "absorbing and highly readable". The Guardian says it's "a well-paced and entertaining novel". NPR concludes, "The best part about The Dinner was this tension taking place above the plates. As the meal wore on, I realized I couldn't get up from the table."

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Tarzan and the Golden Lion

Tarzan and the Golden Lion is the 1927 film adaptation of the 1922 Edgar Rice Burroughs novel with the same title. The film stars James Pierce as Tarzan and features Boris Karloff as a tribal villain.

via Youtube:

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Friday, May 18, 2018

Midshipman's Hope

Midshipman's Hope is the first book in the Seafort Saga by David Feintuch. I don't care for coming-of-age stories or books with adolescent protagonists, but that's exactly what this is and I like it fine.

from the back of the book:
A hideous accident kills the senior officers of the UNS Hibernia -leaving a terrified young officer to save three hundred colonists and crew aboard a damaged ship, on a seventeen-month gauntlet to reach the colony of Hope Nation. With no chance of rescue or reinforcement, Nicholas Seafort must overcome despair, exhaustion, guilt; he must conquer malfunctions, mutiny, and an alien horror beyond human understanding.

He must save lives. And he must take them, in the name of duty...

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Manitou

The Manitou is a 1978 horror film starring Tony Curtis, Michael Ansara, Susan Strasberg, Stella Stevens, Jon Cedar, Ann Sothern, and Burgess Meredith. This is the story of a woman who has a tumor in her neck that contains a human fetus that turns out to be old Native American shaman being reborn to seek vengeance. The cast sounds wonderful, doesn't it? The music is dreadful and dreadfully intrusive.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Moria gives it 3.5 stars and calls it this director's finest moment, saying, "The Manitou contains a particularly strong building atmosphere of eldritch eeriness. The film could almost be an H.P. Lovecraft story". Horror News thinks it's fun. Roger Ebert gives it 1 star and calls it "easily the least plausible thriller since, oh, “Infra-Man.”" Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 49%.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Jazz "Hot"

Jazz "Hot":

is a 1938 short film on jazz featuring Django Reinhardt, who died on this date in 1953 of a brain hemorrhage at the age of 43.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018



by Edward Hopper who died at the age of 84 on this date in 1967. The painting has inspired writers and musicians including Tom Waits' Nighthawks at the Diner (1975):

and has been used in culture and political memes:

"This place is packed!"

Pull up to the counter, and join me for a cuppa joe. I take mine black. You?