Sunday, September 30, 2012

Saturday Salon on Sunday: Baseball is Winding Down to the Wire and Football Is Heating Up.

This may be an early Norman Rockwell, can't find any info. Google has it under Rockwell, but you know how that goes. Still, it's such a wonderful painting, I had to include it. If you know the artist, please let me know.

James Ormsbee Chapin

Norman Rockwell for The Saturday Evening Post

Norman Rockwell for The Saturday Evening Post

Norman Rockwell for The Saturday Evening Post

J.C. Leyendecker

Gorgeous portrait of Ted Williams by Graig Kreindler

Portrait of George Van Haltren (never heard of him, but it sure is a terrific painting). Graig Kreindler

Pat Collins, 1927 Yankees. Another wonderful piece by Graig Kreindler.

Stan Musial by Graig Kreindler. I'm loving this artist's work.

Can't quite make out the artist's name. No info on the website either. If you know who the artist is, please let me know. I love the painting.

Norman Rockwell for The Saturday Evening Post

And now for some favorite football images:

J.C. Leyendecker's legendary (and rather handsome) football player

J.C. Leyendecker

J.C. Leyendecker

J.C. Leyendecker

J.C. Leyendecker - studies

Fun paintings on this BIG sports day. 

When I think of Norman Rockwell, J.C. Leyendecker's name automatically pops up. Leyendecker was a great influence on Rockwell. You can see this especially in Rockwell's early work. They were friends and fellow illustrators during the golden age of iconic illustration. 

During my research for this post, I happily discovered the work of Graig Kreindler and reacquainted myself with James Ormsbee Chapin's.

MANY undecided baseball races still going on with only four days to go. It's the most exciting race to the finish in years. Who will make it to the post-season? My team (the NY Mets) is out of it, but I would love to see the Baltimore Orioles make it to the World Series. Of course they'd have to get through the Yankees for that and let's face it, a World Series without the Yankees always seems kind of flat. I'm not a Yankee fan, but I understand the luster they bring to a championship series - damn their hides.

I'm not forgetting pro- football which is also being played today all over the country. My team is the NY Giants (even if they play in New Jersey).

But admittedly, my focus today is on baseball.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Friday Forgotten (or Overlooked) Books: MAIGRET AND THE WINE MERCHANT by Georges Simenon

Friday is half over and I'm just now sitting down to write my Friday Forgotten Book post. The day has gone on without me, or so it seems. Patti Abbott usually hosts our weekly meme, but this week Todd Mason has the links on his blog, Sweet Freedom. Don't forget to drop by.

Last week I talked about a Maigret re-read that I enjoyed and this week I'm doing the same. Apparently I'm having a good time. So all the modern stuff will have to wait.

This week it's MAIGRET AND THE WINE MERCHANT (1970) in which the patient, thoughtful, intuitive and savvy Superintendent Maigret solves the murder of a very nasty man who delighted in taking advantage of those around him.

Monsieur Oscar Chabut, a rich, self-made man - the wine merchant in the title - is found shot to death on the sidewalk in front of a house of ill repute. When Maigret begins his investigation he immediately takes note of the fact that there is little grief displayed by the man's wife or for that matter, by anyone else who knew Chabut. The wine merchant was apparently a belligerent, take-no-prisoners business man who, because of his own insecurities, enjoyed debasing those around him, most especially all the women in his sphere who were subjected to aggressive sexual advances. Not a nice man.

Still, murderers can't be allowed to run amok even if the victim deserved his fate.

So, Superintendent Maigret once again, despite a bad cold, uses his wits, intuition and understanding of human nature to capture a killer, moving in a world where money apparently trumps morals.

'Maigret was never altogether at ease with the aura of opulence that goes with certain reaches of the bourgeoisie. It made him feel awkward and out of place. For instance, all the people on the list that Jeanne Chabut [the murdered man's wife] had provided belonged more or less to the same set, with its own rules, customs, taboos, and private language. They forgathered in restaurants, theaters, and night clubs, spent their weekends together in country houses, and in the summer went off in droves to Cannes or Saint-Tropez.

Oscar Chabut, with his plebian good looks, had elbowed his way ruthlessly into this tight little world, and to prove to himself that he really had arrived he had found it necessary to go to bed with most of the women in it.'

I'm also currently reading a book of Maigret short stories, MAIGRET'S CHRISTMAS, in which all the stories take place in a wintry Paris whose streets are filled with holiday merry-makers. Crime acknowledges no holiday.

To see a complete list of all of Georges Simenon's books, please use this link.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Conan Doyle is probably spinning in his grave...

Why oh why can't people leave well enough alone? Now, I like Johnny Lee Miller well enough and he might, just might make a good modern day Sherlock Holmes. But Lucy Liu as Dr. Watson???

No, no, a thousand times no! Debuting tonight - ('Elementary' now isn't that a clever name?) it's just as well that I don't have cable and therefore won't be watching.

If you take a look, let me know what you think. If it's good, I'll eat my words.

But in the meantime, I remain, aghast, agape and agog.

I didn't like the Robert Downey Jr. incarnation of Holmes, either.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tuesday's Forgotten (or Overlooked) Movies and Other A/V Stuff

Yes, if it's Tuesday, this is the place to be, movie-wise. Well, here and also over at Todd Mason's blog, Sweet Freedom. Todd hosts our weekly meme - he has all the links. So don't forget to check in and see what's what, movie-wise, television-wise, short film-wise, and any other audio/visual-wise you can think of.

My movie pick came and went like a puff of smoke in 2009, so it's a new movie (made within the past five years, at any rate) which, apparently, very few have seen or heard of.  CAIRO TIME, written and directed by Arab/Canadian Ruba Nadda, stars the wonderful Patricia Clarkson who is incapable of a bad performance and in this instance, the equally wonderful Alexander Siddig who some of you might remember from his role as Dr. Bashir in STAR TREK - Deep Space Nine.

CAIRO TIME is a gently told, bittersweet love story set in modern day Cairo, Egypt. Though the troubles in the area are only hinted at, they exist and apparently have become part of the everyday. Patricia Clarkson plays Juliette Grant, an American woman whose kids have grown into their own lives and fled the coop. On her own for the first time, she flies to Cairo to join her husband for a romantic view of the Pyramids - a second honeymoon.

But when she arrives, her husband, who works in Gaza for the U.N. is unable to join her immediately. Instead he's sent his trusted friend, ex-policeman Tareq Khalifa (Alexander Siddig), a Muslim, to pick Juliette up at the airport, making sure she gets safely to her hotel and settled in. Tareq is recently retired and has taken over his father's Cairo coffee shop.

Clarkson is such a natural screen presence, her face registering her innermost thoughts - her effort to be independent despite arriving in a country where women don't walk alone on city streets - especially blond American women, her initial disappointment at her husband's absence. Though there are scenes without much dialogue or exposition, Clarkson fashions a real flesh and blood woman out of Juliette. We can feel her confusion, her longing.

As she waits for her husband to show up - phone calls tell her he is still in Israel - she and Tareq become friends as he escorts her around Cairo. In one amusing scene, Juliette enters his coffee shop unaware that only men are allowed, but he soon accommodates her at his table where he'd been playing chess with a friend.

Later when Juliette beats Tareq in a heated game, all the patrons crowd around, amazed at her victory. It's all very friendly if a little bit uneasy. Though the film is not free of stereotypical elements, on the whole they do not detract from the story.

We immediately suspect that Juliette and Tareq will grow close. But it's 'the how' of it that draws us in.

I think what is happening in Juliette is that she is a woman of a certain age, long-time married, and unsettled by empty-nest syndrome. Disappointed by the continued absence of her husband and confronted by totally new situations with only a handsome, attentive, intelligent man as her anchor, she naturally becomes fond of him. But it's all friendship on both sides until well into the film when it becomes obvious they are deeply attracted to each other.

There is no sex, just the hint of what might be. This is no hot and heavy love affair, but something more. These two are drawn together by friendship, circumstance and inclination and the bittersweet ending quite takes your breath away. Alexander Siddig's feelings are completely apparent on his face, his regret, even his heartbreak. Juliette, too, is obviously moved and her ache is palpable.

The bustling modern day city of Cairo and the ancient Pyramids which serve as back-drop apparently co-exist in a very dynamic way. CAIRO TIME is partially a love letter to that city and  its people as well as an unexpectedly moving love story.

A wonderful movie worth seeking out. Don't miss it.

To view the trailer, please use this link.
To listen to an interview with the director Ruba Nadda, please link here.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Forgotten Book Friday: MAIGRET AND THE MADWOMAN by Georges Simenon

I sort of side-stepped Patti Abbott's Maigret Day of a few weeks back, but now I'm catching up. I've been re-reading my small collection of Maigret books and for those very few that might have missed Maigret Day, here's my entry for today's Forgotten Book.

Oh, and don't forget to head on over to Patti's blog, Pattinase, to see what other Forgotten (or Overlooked) Books other bloggers are talking about today.

MAIGRET AND THE MADWOMAN (1970) by the super prolific and hyper-active Georges Simenon is not so much a 'who' but a why-and-what-for-done-it. It is a slowly developing tale of greed, stupidity and carelessness which begins when a gentle old woman requests Maigret's help - only he and he alone can solve her problem.

Unfortunately, the police have little time to deal with elderly Madame de Carame - she suspects that someone has been getting into her apartment and moving things around and that she's being followed.

Though Maigret thinks that there might possibly be something to the old woman's jitters, he puts off going to see the her as promised, finding other things of more importance to deal with.

But when the old woman is murdered, Maigret realizes he was wrong to wait.

Part of the essential mystery in this particular book is the old woman's personality which, in a sense, is what intrigues Maigret in the first place.

Simenon wrote the kind of books that immediately draw you in and by the time you've read just a few words, you're in Paris, deep into Maigret's world. As he lights his ever-present pipe and thinks his way through the mysterious intricacies of human behavior, we admire Maigret's doggedness in pursuit of the truth. The books are not intellectual masterpieces of crime, just well told stories written in a natural convincing way by a born story-teller.

Currently I'm re-reading MAIGRET AND THE WINE MERCHANT.

Please use this link to see a complete list of Georges Simenon's books. And here's a  good link to anything and everything Simenon.

No artist attribution -  the source.

...Continued from yesterday.

Ten more answers to Cinematic Reviews 20 Questions Quiz 
Don't forget to check in over at Mythical Monkey's blog for his answers (that's where I learned of the quiz first posted by Cinematic Review.)

11) WHAT FILM GETS YOUR VOTE FOR THE WORST OR MOST POINTLESS REMAKE? I would have to say that THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE sounds like the most pointless.

Although UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS (2011) seems equally pointless as well. (Yes, I know it's more of a sequel, but was it really, REALLY necessary?

For the WORST remake, I'd choose BRIDESHEAD REVISITED (2008) which actually changed some key scenes in the story. The original PBS Masterpiece Theater production by Granada Television cannot ever be improved upon. Period. No reason for a remake - you can't improve on perfection.

The Keira Knightly remake of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE wasn't wonderful and neither was the Harrison Ford SABRINA remake. I just pretend they didn't happen.


I don't know about desperate, but I'd love to see WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE (1951) remade with today's superior special effects. But I'd not like it if they changed the basic script and story.

I would also love to see a remake of SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME (1987) with a slightly different script and a much better ending. Lorraine Bracco as the wife ruined this film as does the second half in which we're force-fed a dumb ending. Tom Berenger and Mimi Rogers had GREAT chemistry.


1) Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in the Bourne films

2) Errol Flynn as Robin Hood in THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (1938)

3) Robert Donat as Richard Hannay in THE 39 STEPS (1935)


1) Angela Lansbury as Eleanor Shaw Iselin in THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE (1962)

2) Wes Studi as Magua in THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS (1992)

3) James Arness as 'The Thing' in THE THING From Another World (1951)


 Though TOY STORY 2 (1999) was terrific too.


PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: At World's End (2007) Of course I haven't seen the very latest one.
But I would be remiss if I didn't mention the simply awful INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM
and The SUPERMAN sequel with Richard Pryor, can't remember the title. Don't want to.


I'd add the first three STAR WARS films - Sorry but can't remember what they're calling them now. Very confusing.


I'm with Mythical Monkey on this: the worst trilogy were those unwatchable prequels. Simply dreadful. What on earth was George Lucas thinking?



Yes, none of this is written in stone. I'm also including film posters of two brilliant movies that no one's ever heard of or seems to have seen, except me.

- and -