Austin City Saloon

Review

20190626_1423015564609099823352308.jpg

The Austin City Saloon, located in the heart of beautiful downtown Corbin, Kentucky, is a pretty cool place to eat. Just opened. Hostess one of those beautiful Kentucky girls you hear so much about with long blonde tresses that fell to the small of her back. A million dollar smile and tight blue jeans. Step this way she purred as she strutted her way among the tables in her high heeled cowboy boots. Food was good but the service was slow and the country music was so loud you couldn’t think. But I did call my hostess over a time or two for a little tete-e-tete which took away all the pain. Bottom line. Yep, I’d go back.

The God of Small Things

A Book Review

20170715_152548.jpg

The God of Small Things is a novel written by Indian activist and writer Arundhati Roy. She has been on my radar for many years now, ever since I started watching her on panel shows on TV. I was impressed by her brilliance as a speaker and thinker on issues that I care deeply about such as inequality, social justice, and the environment. And I have always been fascinated by the Indian subcontinent.

When I learned she had written a novel I went out and purchased it right away. Sad to say it sat on my bookshelves for a few years before I got around to reading it. I am one of those “too many books, too little time” people.

What prompted me to go ahead and read the novel was the fact that 17 yeas after the publication of The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy wrote and published another novel, her second, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness.  I was very excited abut this and went out and purchased it also. I am now in the middle of that wonderful book. But, I get ahead of myself.

In the intervening 17 years between novels Miss Roy has written several other books. Works of nonfiction that reflect her other intellectual pursuits and human rights activism. These books include: Capitalism, A Ghost Story; Walking With the Comrades; Kashmir, The Case for Freedom; and Listening to the Grass Hoppers: Field Notes on Democracy.  She was awarded the Man Booker Prize in 1997 for Literature.

The God of Small Things is by far the best book I have read all year and I have only praise for it. Miss Roy is a master stylist and her prose reads like poetry. Her book is full of vivid imagery, symbolism, and metaphors. It is constructed like a sublime piece of architecture with each piece fitting into place like a jig saw puzzle.

The book is a bit of a challenge to read as it does not flow in a straight linear progression. Rather, it jumps around in time in flash backs and flash forwards. But stick with it, it is well worth the ride.

The novel is a story of an Indian family writ large on a grand scale. Some have compared Roy to Faulkner, but I think she comes closer to Gabriel Garcia Marqeuz. There is forbidden love, family drama, political unrest, and magical realism.

Estha and Rahel are seven year old fraternal twins, boy and girl, growing up in a small southern Indian town. They live with their mother Ammu and the rest of their extended family. Their uncle Chacko runs the family pickle factory. One fateful day their cousin Sophie Mol from England is invited to spend the Christmas holidays with them. Tragedy ensues and Sophie Mol is drowned in a boating accident.

In telling the story, Roy incorporates other larger issues taking place in India at the time, such as issues of cast, class, and political unrest.

There are many memorable passages in the novel, but this one in particular stands out:

“D’you know what happens when you hurt people?’ Ammu said. ‘When you hurt people, they begin to love you less. That’s what careless words do. They make people love you a little less.”

This was said to seven year old Rahel when she apparently said something carelessly which hurt her mother, which is something seven-year olds sometimes do. When Ammu said this to Rahel, “…a cold moth with unusually dense dorsal tufts landed lightly on Rahel’s heart. Where its icy legs touched her, she got goose bumps on her careless heart. A little less her Ammu loved her.” This passage haunted me for the rest of the novel and it haunts me still.

This is a novel of life, love, fear, death, pain, and loss. It is wonderfully written and I highly recommend.

 

 

 

 

 

THEY LIVE BY NIGHT (1948)

Movie Blurb

Debut film by Nicholas Ray. A film noir that is a cut above the rest. A genuine love story between two innocents that was bound to fail.

They live by night poster

Ray did some innovative things with sound and one of the earliest overhead shots shot from a helicopter. He went on to direct such films of note as, Rebel Without a Cause, Johnny Guitar, and King of Kings.

They Live By Night

They Live by Night was remade in 1974 by Robert Altman using the title, Thieves Like Us, which is the title of the novel the two movies was based upon. It was a pretty good flick as well.

Don’t confuse these two well made and entertaining movies with the execrable, Live By Night, directed by Ben Afleck in 2016. It is unwatchable.

They Live by Night (1948), I give it an eight out of ten.

TITUS ANDRONICUS

20161030_161315.jpg

This is where they disposed of the bodies…..

Titus Andronicus is one of Shakespeare’s more out there plays. It was presented recently by Kentucky Shakespeare at a warehouse in the heart of Butchertown near downtown Louisville just in time for Halloween. How very appropriate in both cases for this was the most bloody and horror haunted of all the Bard’s pieces.

Titus was one of Shakespeare’s early plays and written when he was quite young. It is not one of his best plays but it is certainly one of his goriest. Perfect for the October Country and very fitting fare for Halloween.

Director Matt Wallace gives us plenty of atmosphere by staging the play in an abandoned warehouse with with dark interiors, concrete floors, exposed pipes, and plenty of fog. Lighting  was from utility lamps pressed into service. The play is set in set in ancient Rome but the warehouse space and the costuming of the actors give the play the right horror haunted feel. Just right for torture and mayhem. The cast was dressed in black leather and Tamora, Queen of the Goths, was appropriately outfitted in a black leather corset suitable to her name.

Harold Bloom has called this play a testimony to patriarchy’s ultimate oppression of its females. In an act of revenge, Lavinia, Titus’s daughter, is savagely raped by Tamora’s sons, Demetius and Chiron. Tamora says to them, “…when you have the honey of your desire, let not this wasp outlive, us both to sting.” After raping Lavinia the boys cut out her tongue and slice off both her hands so that she cannot identify them.

titus-jumbo

Later Titus continues the cycle of revenge by killing both of Tamora’s sons by cutting their throats. He drains their blood and bakes their remains into a pie and then feeds the meal to Tamora unbeknownst to her. When she finds out horror ensues.

The actors were uniformly excellent and the play was as good a Shakespeare as you will see anywhere in the country. Titus Andronicus was a marvel to behold.

 

 

 

 

 

 

THIRD STREET DIVE BAR

wp-1476736899862.jpeg

Third Street Dive Bar is located in the heart of beautiful downtown Louisville, Kentucky. Kentucky, as we know from previous entries, is the land of beautiful horses and fast women. But if you are fast enough, you can catch them! Louisville is full of dive bars and all manner of other drinking establishments. It is also known, as of late, for its bourbon tours. Tonight I visited the Third Street Dive Bar for the very first time. I wasn’t disappointed.  It is a music venue but it was early when we arrived so no band was playing at the time.

My friend Dan and I sidled up to the bar and ordered drinks. The prices were right and they had plenty of specials. Don’t go with the well bourbon, though, because it is worse than rot gut. I switched to Beam and that was much better. I like my bourbon on the rocks with a splash of branch water. If you don’t have any branches any kind of water will do. But please, just a splash.

wp-1476736852848.jpeg

There were a couple of ladies at the bar to our left and of course Dan had to chat them up. He tried to talk them into joining us at another bar down the street about six minutes away. They demurred. It was just as well as they were both married and from Toledo and I don’t know what’s worse. They were here on convention and staying at the Hyatt.

wp-1476736726662.jpeg

I loved the decor of the Third Street Dive Bar. There was plenty of neon signs and graffiti on the walls, especially in the bathrooms. The back room had a pool table with a red velvet top that looked rather inviting.

wp-1476736790659.jpeg

We finished our drinks and went down to Meta. Meta is a cool hipster bar with a story all its own. We had a few drinks and struck up some conversation with some of the local hipsters then came on back to Third Street. By the time we got back a band was playing and another one was setting up. The place was starting to fill up with some pretty wild looking characters. So far so good. My friend Dan is a blues guitarist and singer. He talked a member of the band into letting him play with them. Dan did a rousing version of Jimmy Hendrix’s Along the Watch Tower. The crowd loved it!

wp-1476736877960.jpeg

We left shortly after that. All in all had a pretty good time.

Third Street Dive Bar, 442 South 3rd, Louisville, Kentucky

 

 

Review Magic in the Moonlight

Magic in the Moonlight

Magic in the Moon Light (2014) written and directed by Woody Allen is a delightful summer confectionary, light as cotton candy and just as sweet. Colon Firth is excellent as the magician Wei Lin Soo who was brought in to debunk the Emma Stone’s character, Sophie, of fraud. Romance ensues as Firth becomes enchanted with Sophie. Much has been said about the age difference between Colin Firth and Emma Stone, but what the hell? They were antagonists throughout most of the film. Both were engaged to other people. Finally, at the end they got together. So what if there was an age gap? This is not so unusual in Hollywood. One need to look no further than Bogart and Bacall.
The film was beautifully photographed by Iranian cinematographer, Darius Khondji in glorious Color by Deluxe on 35 mm film stock in 2.35:1 ratio. Taking place in the south of France in the 1920’s, Woody out Gatsby’s Gatsby. Wonderful sound track, as usual, it was a pleasure to hear as well as to see.