Unlikely Heroes: Still Chapter 26 of Washington’s Immortals

Francis Marion, aka Swamp Fox, “was an early pioneer of guerrilla warfare, leading the local militia in numerous quick, violent attacks on Loyalists and Redcoats. He was (unlike the character portrayed by Mel Gibson in The Patriot) “physically underwhelming: a frail, stubby fifty-year-old, hobbled by deformed knees and ankles.”

The British sent one of their most ruthless fighters after him, Banastre Tarleton, famous for what was known as “Tarleton’s quarter” — after a small force in South Carolina surrendered, Tarleton failed to honor the white flag (he claimed he didn’t see it because he was thrown from his horse) and slaughtered the surrendering men. “It was Tarleton who gave Marion his nickname: after pursuing the Patriot through twenty-six miles of Carolina swampland,” Tarleton was forced to give up the chase.

Thursday Trios at the Century 20

Thank you to Mama Cormier for hosting the Thursday Trios Challenge.

Self just saw Death on the Nile in her local Century 20 (Very enjoyable movie, she liked it much better than Knives Out). Century 20 is one of her favorite places; she’s there practically every week.

Poetry Sunday: Miguel Hernandez’s A Man-Eating Knife

A few days ago, self went to downtown Palo Alto, to Landmark Aquarius on Emerson, to watch Pedro Almodovar’s Parallel Mothers. Penelope Cruz is excellent as always. A gamine young actress named Milena Smit is a real scene-stealer.

In honor of the film’s subject, she’s quoting from Miguel Hernandez’s A Man-Eating Knife (in a translation by Don Share)

Where can I be
that I will not find loss?
Your destiny is the beach,
my calling is the sea.

Miguel Hernandez died in a Spanish prison at the age of thirty-one. Below, an excerpt from Octavio Paz’s Remember That Voice, written in memory of Hernandez from Mexico City, November 1942. The translation is by Eliot Weinberger.

Miguel Hernandez has died in prison in the village where he was born. He has died alone in a hostile Spain, the enemy of a Spain where he spent his youth, the antagonist of a Spain that rang out with his generosity. Let others curse his torturers, let others study and analyze his poetry. I want to remember him as he was.

I first saw him in 1937, singing Spanish folk songs. He had a deep voice, somewhat ragged, somewhat like an innocent animal: he sounded like the countryside, like a low echo in the valleys, like a stone falling into a ravine.

SquareOdds # 7: Sacramento, CA

February’s Squares Challenge is ODD.

Thank you to Becky at Life of B for dreaming up the fabulous Squares Challenge. Today, she features a puzzling feature of Portuguese villages in the Algarvian hills.

A year ago, self’s neighbors across the street took off for Seattle, almost as soon as the Governor lifted travel restrictions. Infected by their energy, self undertook a road trip of her own, though hers was much less ambitious. The Crocker Museum in Sacramento was re-opening! Therefore, self determined to be there for the opening.

She found an Airbnb that was in a converted Chinese laundry. In fact, here’s the neon sign hanging outside the structure. The sign is protected by the Sacramento historical association. It has to remain up, forever.

Another thing about the Airbnb: there was only one other guest, and she was Filipina! What are the odds? At night, the owner’s two French pugs would go scrambling around the living room. They are apparently celebrities on Instagram, with upwards of 10k followers.

Dogs on Instagram, Airbnb in Chinese laundry: Sacramento is an interesting place!

It was the perfect place to kick off a year of road trips, all over California.

Stay tuned.

First Poetry Friday of 2022: A Hunt!

Sir Gawain is feted by a Lord who is very generous with his table. There is much revelry, much laughter, the whole night long. Then, at break of dawn, mass (!), followed by a hunt.

The stags of the herd with their high-branched heads
and the broad-horned bucks were allowed to pass by,
for the lord of the land had laid down a law
that man should not maim the male in close season.
But the hinds were halted with hollers and whoops
and the din drove the does to sprint for the dells.
Then the eye can see that the air is all arrows:
all across the forest they flashed and flickered,
biting through hides with their broad heads.

To be shot by arrows is a particularly gruesome way to die, which self grew to appreciate after watching The Revenant. A forest ambush — the arrowheads were so substantial that self felt ill whenever one entered a human target.

While the lord is at the hunt, the lady of the house attempts to seduce Gawain. But even though she has bolted the door to his chambers, and has him pinned to the bed, he grants her no more than a kiss. In the movie, the lady of the house is played by Alicia Vikander. Self remembers sitting in the theater and being very confused.

Next, a scene of the gutting of the deer, which thank the lord was not in the movie (An excerpt: “Next they lopped off the legs and peeled back the pelt/and hooked out the bowels through the broken belly”). It seems to go on forever, every part of the deer is described, including the offal.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Self’s 2021 in Films

The Century 20 was closed for six months last year. It opened up sporadically, with a few screenings of a handful of blockbuster films. It only started to get back to regular screenings of new movies this past summer.

Self loves movies. She loves watching movies in theaters. As soon as theaters re-opened, she was there.

She didn’t realize how many films she’d seen this year until she started compiling this list.

Liked (She asterisked her favorites)

  • A Quiet Place Part 2
  • Belfast*
  • Chaos Walking
  • Dune*
  • Fast and Furious 9
  • Licorice Pizza
  • Stillwater
  • The King’s Man
  • The Last Duel*
  • The Power of the Dog*
  • Wrath of Man

Meh:

  • Ghostbusters: Afterlife
  • No Time to Die
  • Spenser
  • The Green Knight
  • West Side Story

Loathed:

  • Venom
  • Zola

Sea of Images 2021

Past Squares 14: CLOSED FOR GOOD

Self has visited Paris three times. The second and third times, she stayed in the seventeenth arrondissement, close to the Arc de Triomphe. Around the corner from her, on the Avenue Mac Mahon, was a fabulous movie theatre, which was perfect because self is a movie aficionado and she ended up watching movie after movie there (French, with English subtitles) Much to her dismay/grief, she discovered recently that it had closed.

Today, for Past Squares, she wants to commemorate this fabulous place, Cinema Mac Mahon. Here’s a link to the theatre’s backstory. It “opened its doors in 1938”! She took these pictures in May 2017:

2nd Michael Connelly Quote of the Day

Economy creates momentum. The story gathers speed and moves with an unalterable urgency. All characters, all action, relentlessly moving toward the same vanishing point on the horizon.

Michael Connolly’s Introduction to the 2003 Edition of Thomas Perry’s The Butcher’s Boy

Why has no one made this series into a movie? The chase is made for the big screen. Think The Terminator, only no robots and no time travel.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

‘Tis a Good Book

How does self know this is a good book?

Because she’s been praying ever since p. 5 that the love interest hasn’t gone and gotten himself hitched in the two years when he and the main character weren’t speaking to each other.

She’s trying to remember how she first heard about this book. It couldn’t, surely, have been the Wall Street Journal? Or The Economist? Or Locus Magazine? None of those sites ever gives romance recommendations.

Anyhoo, the main character, Poppy, is a little like herself: she’s open to a whole lot of movies:

“I will go anywhere a movie wants to take me, even if that is watching a spy in a fitted suit balance between two speedboats while he shoots at bad guys.”

PWMOV, p. 47

And right away self knows that Poppy’s describing a scene in a James Bond movie (She’s seen them all. Yes, ALL)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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