08 June 2014

Scream of Fear (1961) - A Short Review


Hammer Films are mostly known for their monster movies, such as "Horror of Dracula" and "Curse of Frankenstein."  Before these movies launched them into the international spotlight, they specialized in suspense and science fiction such as The Quatermass Experiment and Four-Sided Triangle.  Even after the success of the Dracula and Frankenstein franchises, they would still delve into suspense or psychological horror.

Scream of Fear (aka Taste of Fear) is a stellar example of Hammer Films suspense outings.  It stars Susan Strasberg, Ann Todd and the inimitable Sir Christopher Lee.  Released in 1961, Directed by Seth Holt with a screenplay by none other that Jimmy Sangster.  The story is of a young, wheelchair-bound Penny Appleby (Susan Strasberg) who returns home to visit her father after an absence of 9 years.  Her father, however, is away on business and she is met by her stepmother Jane.  Within days of being home, Penny keeps seeing her father's body.  She is convinced that something bad has happened.  All those around her, however, are sure that Penny is suffering from nothing more than an overactive imagination.

I won't go any further.  This is one of the best written movies I have seen in a long time.  Predictable is not one of the words that even come close to being used while describing this movie.  I spent the whole movie not quite sure of what was going to happen.  I promise you won't see it coming.

This movie is available on DVD through Amazon.


26 May 2014

Daily Bread


I hadn't realized until today that it's been over 4 months since I've posted here.  As you can see from the pics that I have been busy.  Yep, I baked that bread.  I decided that I could no longer tolerate paying six dollars a loaf for "artisan" bread, which basically consisted of 4 ingredients, was from a local bakery and well, yeah, it was a lot better than anything mass produced.

So I invested in a KitchenAid stand mixer with a bread hook and checked out books on bread from the library.  The two best books I have found so far are The King Arthur Flour Baking Companion and Bread Alone by Daniel Leader.  

So far I have successfully made my first sourdough starter (and resulting bread), bagels, rye bread and soft pretzels in addition to several loaves of "artisan" bread.  My mainstay recipe is from Edward Espe Brown's Tassajara Bread Book.  Although Brown says the basic recipe makes 2 loaves I divide the dough into three loaves.  And we aren't eating more bread.  I keep enough for Valerie and I and give the rest away to co-workers and friends.  

So, yeah, between getting ready for the first art fair of the season and baking bread and working at The Job, I've been a little remiss on the blog.

Thanks for stopping by though...









18 January 2014

Saturday Morning Music-Grace Kelly Quintet


I recently heard Grace Kelly on SiriusXM Real Jazz and all I could think is "I didn't know Grace Kelly played the saxophone."

She has already recorded with such names as Lee Konitz, Phil Woods, Dave Brubeck, Wynton Marsalis, Keith Lockhart, Kenny Barron, Cedar Walton, Dee Dee Bridgewater and Geri Allen, among others.

I would have to say that is pretty good company...

She recorded her first CD at the age of 12 and just recently, at the age of 19, released her 6th CD.  So enjoy this on this chilly January morning.  It might just get the blood flowing!

12 January 2014

The Shelley-Godwin Archive



This is huge!  Especially for literary history fans such as myself.  Visitors to the Shelley-Godwin Archive website will be able to view images of the original manuscript and revisions of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, as well as manuscript of Percy Bysse Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin.

This is the kind of thing that makes me grateful to have the Internet.  I hope someday that more websites like this will come about.

25 October 2013

The Merchant of Menace

 Today marks the 20th anniversary of Vincent Price's passing.  I wanted to share this YouTube video, a tribute to the iconic actor in celebration of what would have been his 100th birthday (May 27th).  It being the Halloween I have had plenty of Vincent Price movies to watch, especially since he is TCM's featured actor for this month.

And, well, I also had to include this video of Vincent Price reading Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven.



Enjoy.  Happy Friday everyone.

24 October 2013

Tell them Boris Sent you.....

You can't talk about classic horror movies without mentioning Boris Karloff.  He has been my favorite horror movie actor since I was a kid.  This video is a little long but, hey, he had a long career.  Most people of a certain age know about his portrayal of Frankenstein's monster, but what is your favorite Karloff film?

Happy Halloween! 

Halloween with Bela Lugosi


Hey, it's one more week until my favorite holiday!  My DVR is filling up fast with all the movies that TCM has shown so far.  I think this weekend is going to be a horror classic marathon.  I enjoy the classics, no matter how many times I've already seen them.

Bela Lugosi is one of my favorites.  Oh sure, he was a ham, but most actors from his era were.  They came originally from the stage and/or from silent films.  The sound film was a new thing and some actors never quite got over it.

Lugosi made movies right up to his death in 1956 and most of them were pretty awful.  But the early ones, well, they always will have a place in my heart.

06 October 2013

Halloween is Soon Here!

October is my favorite time of the year.  I always feel more creative when the weather turns cooler.  The fall colors are just starting to emerge here in Wisconsin, the mornings are cool and crisp.  But that's not the biggest reason I like October so much.

It's because Halloween is coming!  And that means an abundance of horror movies on TV.  I favor the classics, personally.  I grew up watching Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Vincent Price.  Even the cheesiest films that Hammer Productions turned out still hold a place in my heart.  Oh sure I've seen most of them countless times.  I can watch them all over and over.

When I was growing up, one of the channels I watched quite often was St. Louis station KPLR, channel 11.  It was an independent station that showed old movies late night and on weekends. Sundays were my favorite day to watch, though From noon until 2 it would be a Abbott and Costello or Bowery Boys movie.  From 2 to 4 it was horror, and then from 4 until about 6 it was Charlie Chan or Mr. Moto.  Now you know why I love all the old movies.

Today I am reminded of all those movies.  And it being October and almost Halloween, I have decided to have my own horror movie marathon.  I have a small stack of DVDs perfect for the occasion.  The first on my list?  Roger Corman's The Pit and the Pendulum with Vincent Price and Barbara Steele.



Do you like scary movies?  Is Halloween one of your favorite time of the year?

What is your favorite scary movie?

Even better, what's the first movie to give you serious nightmares?  Here's the trailer for mine:







05 October 2013

Arson- A Short Short Story

Arson
by Mark B Hill


The seedling of my world view was nourished by a combination of visionary cynicism and abject poverty.  My first place away from home was a decrepit mobile home precariously nestled on the edge of a four feet deep drainage ditch that was home to group of anti-social raccoons and muskrats. 

I subsisted on red beans and rice, store brand coffee and hand rolled cigarettes.  There are only so many ways to prepare red beans and rice.  To this day I still can't look at a plate of beans and rice without going into convulsions. 

Oh and there was port.  Cheap, sweet, dark, wonderful port.  I drank it on ice and told myself it was grape juice.  It never contradicted me.

Behind the trailer park there was a wooded area and a field of scrub grass that had once been considered an abandoned lot.  We were all fair game to the field mice that nightly invaded our dubious shelters.  Every morning I would see tiny scratches, claw marks, in the congealed bacon grease that had congealed in the iron skillet on top of the tiny gas stove.

For some reason, though I ate poorly myself, I felt I could afford to feed a cat.  His name was Henry and he was a pathetic mouser.  We have domesticated our cats too much perhaps.  Their instincts have been dulled beyond anything that doesn't look like a toy.

And there were cockroaches.  Not your run-of-the-mill standard American cockroaches.  These were the Asian variety.  Huge.  There was a group of  seven Laotian exchange students that lived in the trailer next to me and I assumed the roaches had clandestinely come over with them. I may have been judgmental, but eventually the cockroaches decided they needed more space and moved into my place while I was asleep.

They were nothing I had ever encountered before.  They had wings, functioning wings.  My cat was even afraid of them.  The field mice moved out almost the next day.  Mice, as you may well know, are very non-confrontational.

This left me with a bit of a dilemma.  I could spray for the roaches and hope for the best.  But then the mice, seeing the coast was clear, might be emboldened to move back in.  I sat on the couch smoking a cigarette, trying to decide what to do.  A cockroach crawled onto my hand and tried to knock the cigarette from between my fingers.  My choice was suddenly clear.

I put Henry in his crate and placed the crate and as many belongings as I could in the back seat of my car.  I pulled away and parked the car down the street.  I walked back and torched the trailer.  I sat on the hood of the car and watched it burn.  It wasn't long before I heard the sirens.  Nosy neighbors.


Weeks later I got a letter from my former landlord thanking me for burning the trailer down.  Decrepit as it was, he had it insured to the teeth.

                                                  

20 September 2013

Turkish Coffee

I have recently become a big fan of Turkish coffee. Oh, I like coffee of all kinds:  French press brewed, espresso, cold-brewed iced, coffee with chicory, name it.  Except instant.  Never, ever, ever instant, which if I believed in such things I would think was a sign of the anti-Christ.  I don't but I can't think of a better analogy.

All those aforementioned ways of serving and drinking coffee pales in comparison to the pleasure that is sipping a Turkish coffee.  And drinking it is only part of the fun.  The process of brewing a cup or two of Turkish is, well, quite meditative.  It is not for the push-a-button Keurig owners or even the "I can brew my coffee while I am half asleep because I have an automatic drip coffee maker" crowd.  It requires attention that borders on diligence. 

And takes very little special equipment except for a heat source and an ibrik (also called a cesve).  Which looks like this:

photo from wikipedia


You can find one of these at any Arabic or Turkish market or even on, you guessed it, Amazon.com.

The coffee itself is ground into a fine powder, sometimes plain, sometimes ground with spices such as cardamom and cloves.  Coffee and water are put into the pot along with sugar, which makes a kind of slurry.  Then the mix is put on the burner and brought to a boil.  Careful.  This is where your attention span is put to the test.  The coffee slurry is brought to a boil, taken off the heat and stirred.  It comes to a boil quickly so despite the whole "a watched pot never boils" adage, you have to keep an eye on it or it will boil over. 

The coffee is brought to a second boil, stirred, and then a third boil.  What you have now succeeded in is Turkish coffee.  Let it cool a few minutes.  Enjoy.

It's not quite a Japanese tea ceremony but it is or can be a meditative process.  And a very rewarding one at that.  A little taste of Nirvana?  Did I say that?

Not ready to commit?  Still curious?  Go to your local Mid-Eastern or Turkish restaurant and see if they serve Turkish coffee.  Try it.  You may just want to get rid of your Keurig. 

Want to learn more?  Follow this link


12 September 2013

Poetry Thursday - Timothy Russell

IN DISIECTA MEMBRA

Few adults ever know where their liver is until it is too late
                                                                              --Gore Vidal

The liver is located so close to the brain
the two of them are often mistaken for twins.
What soothes this one afflicts that one,
and preserving either jeopardizes the other.
The kidneys govern by default, like Congress.
The stomach throbs and pulses with bureaucracy.
The overriding function of the reproductive organs
has top priority.  Despite its low intelligence,
the penis has a strong will, to the point of brutality.
(The uterus is lined with shelves of ancient books.)
Every other body process is subordinate.
The heart works like hell:  four rooms and a bath,
where ends can barely be met, with no view at all.
The eye is the largest organ; it contains the world.
The spinal column is proof we were meant to be
     plants.
The lungs censor whatever floats in the air.
The mind produces torment as if it were a hormone,
but is itself illusory, a phenomenon of the brain
as insubstantial as a promise.  The rest is offal:
the pancreas, the spleen, the tongue and the lips.

                      -Timothy Russell

via Poetry,  Aug 1994.

10 September 2013

Tuesday Morning Music- David Bazan


from Bazan's 2009 release Curse Your Branches.  


I hope that no matter what you are doing or where you are you are enjoying your day.  Remember, think for yourself!