Thursday, May 25, 2017

Catching Up with a Trio of Bette Davis Films on TCM

Recent TCM offerings include: The Girl from Tenth Avenue, The Golden Arrow and That Certain Woman.

Let's start with The Girl from Tenth Avenue (1935.) This is one of my favorites of the early Bette Davis "fluff" movies. Bette had already shown her acting chops in Bordertown and Of Human Bondage. Warners shouldn't have wasted her in this. But I still found it fun and wrote about it here. I enjoyed Bette's scenes with Alison Skipworth, who coaches Bette on how to be a lady. Full disclosure: The book Mother Goddamn by Whitney Stine with commentary by Bette Davis categorizes The Girl from Tenth Avenue as one of "Three Stinkers All in A Row."

The Golden Arrow: I think this is more of a stinker than The Girl from Tenth Avenue. Here Bette is pretending to be a face cream heiress to get publicity for the company. She inexplicably falls in love with reporter George Brent, who inexplicably falls for her when he learns she's a fake Huh? Enough said. At least The Girl from Tenth Avenue had Alison Skipworth and a thrown grapefruit. What a letdown die Bette from her roles in Dangerous and The Petrified Forest. 

That Certain Woman: This movie annoys me. Of course, Bette and Donald Crisp are good, as are the supporting players, especially Anita Louise. But Henry Fonda can't do anything with the weak character of Jack Merrick. How could Bette love him? Weak is too weak of a word to describe him. As someone who loves soap operas, the plot is too soapy for me. Apparently, Bette thought it was an important step in her career to work with director Edmund Goulding (per Mother Goddamn.) It's hard for me to understand this based on this film.

Luckily, better roles would be coming for Bette.

Sara Paretsky's Fallout

I've read all 18 of the VI Warshawski novels and a few of the short stories. Sometimes it gets hard to keep straight what stories go with what titles. I enjoyed the entire series, but I remember the more recent stories better than the older books. Of the earlier novels, Killing Orders, Blood Shot, Burn Marks and Hard Times are the most memorable.

I read the last six VI books in the last three months. Of these, I liked Critical Mass and the latest Fallout the best.

Fallout takes VI out of Chicago and into Lawrence, Kansas (hometown of Sara Paretsky.) VI's case combines unknown parentage, drug abuse, mental illness, political protest, national security and missing persons. VI breaks down barriers of small town residents closing ranks and racial prejudice to solve the case.

As a dog lover, I especially enjoy Peppy's role in saving the day.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Midweek Update

Monday was my birthday. I'm not crazy about my age, but that's no reason not to celebrate. I'm not about to lie and shave years off my age. Age is probably the best reason to say, "It is what it is."

I had some vague ideas about my day: go to the gym, take a long walk with Lola, go to the antiques center in Norwalk (I've never been) maybe do something arty, maybe look for hiking boots.

I did none of the above.

On Friday night, I had an accident with Lola at the dog park, and ended up with a sore right shoulder and a pulled muscle in my right thigh. I still haven't gotten back to the gym. It rained most of Monday. I took Lola to Oystershell Park, and we were soaked after our half hour walk.

I vegged most of the day, playing yahtzee, re-watching Twin Peaks (before we watch the revival.)  I did a little work, checking answers to a practice SAT test I had taken on Sunday afternoon. Jeff started a new project and got home before 5. We went to Sedona Tap House for charity steak with our friend Chris. We were home by 7; it felt like 10.

***  

Jeff is able to sleep in for an hour and a half longer now than he did when he worked in lower Manhattan. He's also home about an hour earlier. It's a nice change, but I'm still getting used to it. 

***

On Saturday afternoon, I met Jeff and Lola at Bruce Park after I tutored in Greenwich. It's always fun to surprise Lola--I also did it at Taylor Farm yesterday. I like to see the moment when she recognizes me and runs toward me. I saw several black squirrels at Bruce Park. There is one iconic black squirrel at Taylor Farm. I got a kick out of seeing so many on Saturday. I took a few photos but couldn't get close enough to get a good one. 

***

Today I took Lola back to the Wilton loop of the Norwalk River Valley Trail. She likes to take the shorter loop from the parking lot on Autumn Ridge. I saw several chipmunks; they are so cute. I chose NRVT because it is an easy walk. Yesterday I stepped funny on a branch and it hurt my pulled thigh muscle. I had the idea of taking Lola to Cranbury but thought it might be too ambitious. 

***

I'm bummed about my accident with Lola. I had been getting into a good workout groove. It's so hard to get there, but so easy to lose the routine. 

***

I finished the latest Sara Paretsky book, Fallout  last week. A post will follow. I'm re-reading Game of Thrones. Maybe I'll re-read the first three books of A Song of Ice and Fire. I'd like to compare Book Two Arya with Roose Bolton to show season two with Arya and Tywin Lannister. Then there's the Red Wedding in Book Three. 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

TV Time--Spring 2017--Part Two

Girls: I'm ambivalent about this show. I've enjoyed it enough to watch every episode, but I don't like any of the characters. I didn't like the Hannah pregnancy story line though it was better than I expected. 

The Expanse: We started watching this show because it was described as "Game of Thrones in space." That's not an accurate description beyond the fact that there are various factions competing for power: earthers martians and belters. What will happen next with the protomolecule?

Feud: We recorded this and still have three more episodes to watch. As a huge Bette Davis fan, I was psyched to see this. I was curious to see how Susan Sarandon handled the role. She had been a favorite of mine, but lately she's bugged. I don't care that she supported Bernie Sanders, but she was so dismissive of anyone who supported Hillary. She claimed she didn't vote with her vagina, implying that's what Hillary supporters did. But she ended up voted for Jill Stein. Was her vagina involved?

At any rate, I try to watch performances without thinking about politics. Sarandon is pretty good as Davis. Jessica Lange as Joan Crawford is also good, though I'm less familiar with her story. Kathy Bates is how I imagine Joan Blondell and Catherine Zeta Jones exudes Olivia de Haviland's sophisticated cool. Looking forward to catching the rest of the series.

Fargo: The third season has a new cast and a new set of characters. I must admit that I'm not enjoying this season as much as I enjoyed previous seasons, especially season two.But it's still a good show, and I can't wait for the next episode. I'm intrigued by the Stussy brothers as well as Nikki Swango.

Twin Peaks: The new Twin Peaks or return to Twin Peaks or whatever is starting tonight. But I don't feel ready for it. I barely remember the second season. I've read that one should watch both seasons and the movie Fire Walk with Me before watching the new show. So far we're on the second episode of the first season: a long way to go.


Saturday, May 20, 2017

Lola's Hiking Philosophy

When we're at parks, Lola likes to go off the trails through fields and woods. As we crossed a field at Winslow Park on Thursday, I remembered this quote that describes her approach:

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. 

I garbled it a bit, I thought it was "do not follow where the path may lead," but I got the gist of it. Later I googled it to see the correct words and author--Ralph Waldo Emerson. 

I had posted a card with that quotation above my desk in my University of Delaware dorm room. I was idealistic then, with hopes of changing the world. I had vague dreams of going into politics and becoming a Senator. Maybe I haven't accomplished much, but at least I've changed Lola's world.


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

TV Time--Spring 2017

It's been a while since I wrote about TV shows that we watch. So here goes.

Face Off: This remains my favorite reality show. The best part of it is the cooperation and camaraderie among contestants. There's little drama besides contestants missing their families. Season 11 ran from January through April. All contestants had participated on the show in earlier seasons, and they started off competing in teams. Most contestants were from recent seasons (four from seasons nine and 10; 11 from seasons six through eight; one from season one.) I would have enjoyed seeing more contestants from the earlier seasons.

Gotham: As I wrote, I wasn't impressed with the first few episodes after the fall finale. They seemed shoehorned in. Now we're back to the Court of Owls and their fiendish plans. Recent shows have been better, but it appears the writers are throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks.

Sleepy Hollow: I stuck with this show, despite misgivings. I couldn't get into the new characters and setting, and I missed Abby. Just heard last week that the show was canceled.

Hawaii Five O: I started to watch this show mainly because Jeff likes it. But it's pretty good with complicated, ongoing plot lines as well as some humor.

Ripper Street: Jeff and I enjoyed this show from the beginning. For some reason we missed some episodes on BBC America, but were able to catch up on Netflix or Amazon. I have to commend one episode, "Live Free, Live True." The mystery of the week centered on a woman who led her life as a a man to protect herself from her mother's tragic end. A tragedy all women could share without access to contraception and abortion.

To be continued.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Ladies Who Lunch

Today is my mother-in-law's birthday (and mine is next week.) My sister-in-law took us both out to lunch. My mother-in-law lives in Southbury, and we went to John's Cafe in Woodbury. The food was excellent: I had a power bowl with shrimp, spinach, quinoa, strawberries, almonds, vidalia onions and balsamic. We shared two desserts.

It was a nice, leisurely lunch. I could get used to this lifestyle.