dual personalities

Category: Movies

For whom the bell tolls merrily

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Daughter #2 has had her baby!

IMG_6602Look at that little face!

I toasted little Katiebelle Wednesday night…


…and again yesterday afternoon with my pals…


…and I will go on toasting her and her brilliant mother on through the weekend. You betcha.

The OM and I were in a quandary about what to watch Wednesday night, so we landed on The Court Jester (1955), which in case you don’t recall, has a baby at the center of the plot. Set in medieval England, it concerns the struggle to restore to the throne the rightful heir, a baby with a distinguishing birthmark—the purple pimpernel on his posterior. Danny Kaye plays Hubert Hawkins, an ex-carnival entertainer who becomes minstrel to the Black Fox, a Robin Hood-type character who leads a band of rebels in the forest in support of the true infant-king.

Screen Shot 2020-06-04 at 8.56.40 PMThe film is full of comedic exchanges such as “Get it?” “Got it.” “Good!” and “The pellet with the poison’s in the vessel with the pestle; the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true!” I found it to be very diverting and a lot of fun. I always liked Danny Kaye, and if you like him in White Christmas, you will love him in this.

Screen Shot 2020-06-04 at 12.59.03 PMThe excellent supporting cast includes Basil Rathbone, Glynis Johns, Angela Lansbury, and Mildred Natwick. Together they manage to spoof movies like The Adventures of Robin Hood without going overboard. The production values are very high. The script is genuinely clever.

As it unfolds you’ll see
What starts like a scary tale ends like a fairy tale
And life couldn’t possibly better be.

So try it, maybe you’ll like it!

And praise the Lord for precious babies and their brilliant mothers.

The powerful play goes on

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Throw all your stagey chandeliers in wheelbarrows and

move them north

To celebrate my mother’s sewing-machine

And her beneath an eighty-watt bulb, pedalling

Iambs on an antique metal footplate

Powering the needle through its regular lines,

Doing her work.  To me as a young boy

That was her typewriter.  I’d watch

Her hands and feet in unison, or read

Between her calves the wrought-iron letters:

SINGER.  Mass-produced polished wood and metal,

It was a powerful instrument.  I stared

Hard at its brilliant needle’s eye that purred

And shone at night; and then each morning after

I went to work at school, wearing her songs.

– Robert Crawford, b. 1959   

We haven’t had a poem for awhile, so I thought I’d include this one which I read in an online poetry class facilitated by a friend of mine. It reminded me of my own mother, although her Singer sewing machine was always on the dining room table. I don’t know a lot about contemporary poetry beyond a few poems by Mary Oliver and Billy Collins and Seamus Heaney, but I am learning that there is some good stuff out there.

One birthday has passed this week that we have not noted, Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803), and another, Walt Whitman’s (May 31, 1819), is coming up on Sunday. It is always a good time to turn to these two titans for some inspiration.

Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?
That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.

Sunday is also the birthday of film titan Clint Eastwood, who turns 90! Can you believe it? He is still going strong–the man has got some good genes.

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I might watch Million Dollar Baby (2004) or Gran Torino (2008) which are both excellent. I watched A Perfect World (1993) a few weeks ago and liked it. Kevin Costner is the lead with Eastwood supporting. He directed all three of these movies. Another good one, directed by Eastwood but not starring him, is American Sniper (2014) which, you  may recall, set box-office records.  I will probably opt for the younger, dreamier Clint though.

Lately he has been speaking to me.

So anyway there will be lots to toast this weekend! 🍷🍷🍷 To Ralph, to Walt, to Clint, to life!

The painting is Sewing (The Artist’s Wife) by Australian painter Hans Heysen (1877–-1968)

“I see my light come shining From the west unto the east/Any day now, any day now I shall be released.”*

Happy belated  birthday to Bob Dylan who turned 79 yesterday. We love you and God loves you, Bob.

The weekend rushed by and daughter #1 and I had fun doing things we had not been able to do in a long time, like walking around downtown Kirkwood and actually going in a store and buying something! (Don’t worry, we wore masks.) We also sat outside on the patio and drank a cold one. It was 87 degrees!

Their parents dropped off the wee babes for awhile on Sunday morning and they ran us ragged.

We finally had to resort to getting out the giant box of Beanie Babies.


Hog Heaven

We were done in after that, but daughter #1 did give me a gel manicure. The rain actually held off for most of the weekend until Sunday when the OM decided to barbecue. Then it rained for hours.

We watched The LongRiders (1980) which you may recall is a movie about the outlaw James brothers, the Younger brothers, and assorted other brothers, all played by actual brothers: The Caradines, the Keaches, the Quaids, and even Christopher Guest and his brother. I had not seen it in a long time and really enjoyed it.

Screen Shot 2020-05-24 at 9.58.46 PMRather than being gimmicky, the real brothers lent an air of authenticity to the film which I appreciated. The musical score by Ry Cooder was also excellent. And I enjoyed the Missouri setting and the story of our homegrown famous outlaws.

Today I am celebrating Memorial Day and watching war movies as previously mentioned. I will also toast John Wayne on the 111th anniversary of his birth.

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FYI daughter #2 is scaling back her blog post activity to once a week on Thursdays as she anticipates the imminent arrival of baby U.  L’Chaim!

*Bob Dylan


“Take ’em to Missouri, Matt.”*

Huzzah! We have a long weekend ahead of us and perhaps some actual places to go! Or we may just stay in and listen to music and watch movies, because–of course–it’s supposed to rain all weekend!

Monday is Memorial day and one of the ways I typically observe Memorial Day, honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military, is to watch a good war movie. Here are a few suggestions, mostly old movies as is my wont, but please note I have included one from the 21st century!

They Were Expendable (1945) John Ford directed this story of a PT boat unit defending the Philippines during WWII. John Wayne and Robert Montgomery star.

Cry Havoc (1943) A mostly all-female cast portrays a group of Army hospital volunteers stationed in Bataan during WWII. In some ways it is standard wartime melodrama, but the ending, as the brave nurses and volunteers fall into the hands of the Japanese, is quite powerful. Margaret Sullavan and Joan Blondell star.

Twelve O’Clock High (1949) Gregory Peck stars as a general who takes over a bomber unit suffering from low morale and whips them into shape before collapsing himself under the strain.

The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) Robert Emmett Sherwood adapted MacKinlay Kantor’s story of veterans returning to their hometown after service in WWII. William Wyler directed; Frederic March, Dana Andrews, Myrna Loy, Harold Russell star.

She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949) Captain Nathan Brittles, on the eve of retirement, takes out a last patrol to stop an impending Indian uprising following the disaster at the Little Big Horn. John Ford directed; John Wayne stars.

Hacksaw Ridge (2016) An Army medic and conscientious objector becomes the first man in American history to receive the Medal of Honor for incredible acts of valor without having fired a shot. The scenes during the Battle of Okinawa in WWII are very intense and more graphic than I like to see, but the movie is a good one. Directed by Mel Gibson and starring Andrew Garfield and Sam Worthington.

Monday is also John Wayne’s birthday (🎉🎉🎉) so I will probably be leaning toward They Were Expendable. 

Last Monday (our regular John Wayne movie night) I watched Red River (1948) and it was great. John Wayne and Montgomery Clift play so well off each other.  Clift was never better.

So you might want to check it out as well.

I should also note the passing of Indian-born Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias.  Ravi’s ministry gradually evolved, but his basic focus remained the same: to “help the thinker believe and the believer think.”

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In March doctors discovered a malignant tumor when he underwent back surgery. He began receiving treatment, but two months later they deemed his cancer untreatable and he died shortly thereafter. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.

And I really want one of these face masks from the National Cowboy Museum! #HashtagTheCowboy…

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*Tom Dunston to Matthew Garth in Red River. They end up taking ’em to Kansas, of course, in order to avoid the marauding border ruffians in Missouri.

Let angels prostrate fall

Well, it has been rainy and rather bleak here in flyover country for several days. But as William Law said, “He who complains of the weather–complains of the God who ordains the weather!”

The highlight of my quiet weekend was driving a bunch of boxes to the recycling center. (Okay, we also got some frozen custard.) Woohoo. The boy came over on Sunday afternoon for a brief parley which is always a treat. The good news is that he reopened his store yesterday, but we probably won’t see him for awhile.

Screen Shot 2020-05-18 at 3.56.52 PMI watched The Green Mile (1999) about the mysterious goings on in a prison in 1935. It was as good as I remembered it. One of Tom Hanks’s best.

Screen Shot 2020-05-18 at 4.07.50 PMIt is over three hours long, but I can’t think of anything I would cut. So if you have three hours, I recommend it. I read the book by Stephen King back in the day and it is good too.

A fellow fan emailed me the sad news that Ken Osmond had died. You remember Ken–he played Eddie Haskell, Wally Cleaver’s super polite-with-parents but a jerk-to-his-little brother-Beaver friend. Quel icon.

Rest in peace, Ken. You nailed it. And those 18 years as a real-life motorcycle cop were impressive too.

On the horticultural front, the iris this year have been insane.


And don’t the new pillows (with thistles!) that daughter #2 gave me for my birthday spruce up the Florida room nicely?


“Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night.”
–  Rainer Maria Rilke

Have a good week! Shop local and small!

Sad ogres


A cute picture of the wee laddie with little or no significance other than being cute.

I do not have much to report/write about. The days drift by, don’t they? I work (remotely) in my office and some days I take a walk depending on the weather. One night last week I watched The Full Monty (1997) which I had not seen since it came out back in the day. It is the British movie about the bloke, who, seeing the long line of women clamoring to get in to a touring Chippendales-style dance troupe, thinks he can solve his financial and custody problems by forming his own male exotic dance troupe with some of his fellow un- or underemployed ex-mill workers. Robert Carlyle, Mark Addy and Tom Wilkinson star and some low-key hilarity ensues.

Considering the plot, there is very little vulgarity. I recommend it if you are looking for low-key hilarity. And who is not?

Other than that, I am still listening to Jorge Luis Borges lecture about metaphor while needlepointing. Again, he is so great, but hard to follow sometimes–for instance, when he quotes Shakespeare, “Beware the green-eyed monster which doth mock…” he says, “The sad ogres who mock…” He is translating Shakespeare back into English from the Spanish translation I guess. Translations of translations…

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Delightful, but sometimes it takes me a day to catch up.

I am also re-reading Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier, having finished Frenchman’s Creek last week, and I am thoroughly enjoying it. Daphne at the top of her game is hard to beat.


Yesterday was my friend Carla’s birthday so Becky and I dropped by in the afternoon and chatted on her front porch (observing social distancing protocol) and toasted her with a plastic cup of Proscecco. It was very pleasant sitting on the breezy porch surrounded by peonies. A deer ran by.

Sigh. I want to see normal on the horizon and I don’t.

But chin up, it is the bell and it tolleth for thee. And it is Friday. I do not have to Zoom anything for a couple of days.

“You’ll do.”*

Well, since we’ve been in quarantine, Monday nights are John Wayne movie nights. Last night we watched The Cowboys (1972)–the one about the cattle drive led by the Duke and a bunch of kids recruited to replace the cowboys who have gone off to search for gold.

Screen Shot 2020-05-11 at 8.50.15 PM.pngIt was real good and I recommend it, along with John Wayne Monday nights. Mondays are hard, what with Zoom meetings and starting back to the work week.

I had a super fun weekend. Daughter #1 came home and we saw the wee babes twice. Both times they were in fine fettle and glad to be frolicking outside and playing with their old toys inside.



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Lottie with “her people”

We also drove to a county park we had never been to–Bee Tree Park which overlooks the Mississippi River–and explored it. We discovered it while perusing one of our books on St. Louis. South County is terra incognita, but we’re not scared.


Screen Shot 2020-05-11 at 9.10.09 PMWe also listened to a lot of old CD mixes from 15 years ago. Very angsty. Remember this one?

Admit it, you were singing along.

We ordered take out brunch for Mother’s Day and take out margaritas for Saturday night. We are adapting to the quarantine as best we can.

*Will Andersen in “The Cowboys”

“Way down in Missouri where I learned this lullaby”*

Today is Truman Day, a holiday in our state and for some people a day off from work.

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Harry in WWI. Are his pants inflated?

I do not have the day off, but I will raise a toast to Harry nonetheless at the appropriate hour. A Missouri Mule, which was created by bartender Joe Gilmore especially for President Truman, would be nice. I thought a Missouri Mule was bourbon, lime  and ginger ale, but when I looked it up, the ingredients are:

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•2 parts Bourbon
•2 parts Applejack
•2 parts Lemon juice
•1 part Campari
•1 part Cointreau

Well, you learn something new every day, right?

Mother’s Day is on Sunday and I am hoping the wee babes will drop by for awhile to frolic in our yard. They came over on Wednesday and frolicked in the yard and we practiced social distancing while they picked flowers and threw rocks. It was a nice diversion.

IMG_0152.jpegIMG_0187.jpegIMG_0156.jpegAfter reading daughter #2’s blogpost yesterday about some “mildly captivating” recent films, I got thinking, of course, about classic films. I had just watched Juarez (1939) and really marveled at how good it is.

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The film focuses on the conflict between Maximilian I, an Austrian archduke who was installed as the puppet ruler of Mexico in 1863 by Napoleon III, and Benito Juarez, the country’s president. It is not a story that particularly interests me, but as presented by Warner Brothers with all their bells and whistles, it was riveting.

Maximilian is the Hapsburg dupe who is used by Napoleon III to expand the French empire in Mexico.  Jaurez, who idolizes Abraham Lincoln so we know he is a good guy, is the hero of the piece, but as played by Paul Muni, he isn’t half as interesting as Brian Aherne as the emperor and Bette Davis as his crazy wife, Carlota.

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Donald Crisp, Brian Aherne, Bette Davis, and be-still-my-heart Gilbert Roland

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The real Emperor with the unfortunate Hapsburg mouth

The screenplay by John Huston and Aeneas MacKenzie is, as you would expect, excellent and the Warner Brothers cast is terrific. How can you go wrong with John Garfield, Gilbert Roland, Claude Rains, Donald Crisp, Gale Sondergaard, Henry Davenport, etc. in supporting parts? You can’t. Handsome Brian Aherne is actually very sympathetic and believable as the overly trusting archduke and Bette Davis is thankfully limited to a couple of Big Scenes, so she doesn’t manage to take over and ruin the film. Paul Muni is stalwart as the Zapotec Man of the People. Sure the plot probably doesn’t have much resemblance to reality, but we don’t care. It is a good story.

They knew how to tell good stories and, indeed, make a movie in 1939. And they don’t seem to anymore. Is that because screenwriters and directors nowadays are too focused on their own genius to actually make anything worth watching, much less art?

I suppose I am a broken record, but with all this time on your hands and nowhere to go, you are much better served to find and watch some movies from the classic era of Hollywood. For instance, I also watched The Scarlet Empress (1934)–a movie which is nearly ninety years old!–starring Marlene Dietrich as Catherine the Great and it was really something–beautifully staged and photographed. The art direction was A++.

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Marlene and the remarkably sexy John Lodge (of the Boston Lodges) who went on to be a congressman and governor of Massachusetts after he’d had enough of the movie biz.

And there is no one to compare with Marlene Dietrich these days. Seriously. Who can you think of?

Well, once again, I sound like an old lady.


But at least I’m consistent.

If you are looking for something a little more highbrow than old movies, I have something wonderful for you. I have been listening to the Norton Lectures given by Jorge Luis Borges at Harvard in 1967-68. I listen to each lecture (about 45 minutes) while needlepointing. It is very restful and I hope I am learning something from this brilliant man.

He was almost blind by the time he gave these lectures and so he used no notes. Can you imagine! He is just the best.

But what ho, it is the weekend. Have a good one!


The super moon was awesome!

*The Missouri Waltz (state song)

“Being perfect is not about that scoreboard out there”*

Well, we watched Friday Night Lights and The Blind Side over the weekend and it was an emotional roller coaster for the OM, All-ABC League center of yesteryear. We all have our triggers.


Can you find the OM just to the left of the coach on the left?

It was a beautiful weekend, sunny and warm, and we took a couple of “drives” just to get out of the house. (The OM has practically forgotten how to drive!) Everyone else had the same idea about getting out of the house, but I can’t begrudge our neighbors a spin in the family SUV.

The wee babes continue to enjoy their quarantine lifestyle at home, but they also went on an outing to Rockwoods Reservation, a conservation area in western St. Louis County dedicated to hiking, wildlife viewing, and other outdoor recreation (rock throwing).


They threw a lot of rocks (not at each other).

I remember going there as a young’un and I’m glad the boy checked it out. Missouri is a beautiful state and there is a lot to see. There is something cool to see in each of our 50 states! In fact, there is something new to see in our neighbor Kansas–a new state park, the Little Jerusalem Badlands in Logan County, which looks awesome.

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Add it to the list!

While we are looking around, we should also look up, because there is some potentially good sky-gazing coming up this week. While the Eta Aquariids Meteor Shower is happening April 19 through May 28, according to In-The-Sky.org, the meteors are expected to hit peak quantity on Tuesday, May 5 (at 4 p.m. EDT, to be precise). During this time, the rate is supposed to be 40 meteors per hour, so the chances of seeing one (today!) are highest.

Extra bonus: the Full Flower super moon, the third super moon of the year, will be in its full form on the evening of Thursday, May 7, as well as at its closest location to Earth, which makes it look slightly larger and brighter. I am going to write a note to myself to remember to check this out. I always forget!

So look around, look up and be perfect!

*Coach Gaines in “Friday Night Lights”

“Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.”*


The iris are budding!


Well, we made it through another week (and another month!) and I scheduled and led my first Zoom meetings, another milestone. I mean I’ve participated in plenty of Zoom meetings, but this was a first. This just goes to show that teaching an old dog new tricks may not be pleasant, but it is not impossible either. Yay for old dogs.

Besides that, it hasn’t been a terribly notable week. I brought the shredder up from the basement and I have been going through old files and shredding like crazy. This is somewhat therapeutic. However, my closets are still filled with stuff–files are just thinner. Progress is slow.

Today is the birthday of film director Henry Koster (1905 – 1988) who, though not as famous as some, directed quite a few good movies, including several of my favorites: The Bishop’s Wife (1947), Harvey (1950), and The Robe (1953). Here’s a list.  It is also the birthday of the actor Glenn Ford (1916 – 2006) who was in a lot of movies, none of them favorites of mine, except maybe Pocketful of Miracles (1961), which I saw recently and enjoyed.

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It is also the birthday of Tim McGraw, (b. 1967), American singer, actor, and record producer. Movie viewing possibilities open up considerably. We have Friday Night Lights (2004) and The Blind Side (2009)! The choice is:

Bad father of a football player–

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vs. Good foster father of a football player–

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What do you think? Friday Night Lights has the added inducements of Lucas Black and Billy Bob Thornton.

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I may watch both. We’ll see…

I put this classic video from 1980 in my bi-weekly email newsletter to my students…

…and one of them commented, “Didn’t understand a word of the song, except for ‘Don’t stand too close to me.’  Apparently, I don’t speak rock.” Apparently you are not as cool as I thought! There is even a reference to Nabakov!

I continue to amuse myself as usual.

Have a good weekend. Maybe I’ll finish the puzzle.


*Luke 24:29