“Harry Brown”: the Marines have a saying…

And that saying is “don’t *#@&* with an old man, he’ll just kill you”. Thankfully, “Harry Brown” is in fact not so formulaic as  most vigilante stories.

“Harry Brown” poster

Harry (Michael Caine) is willfully ignorant of the criminal happenings on the estate where he lives.

Hi beloved wife is wasting away in the hospital, he has precious few friends and knows little of the people who live in or around the estate. Ignorance is in fact bliss. Harry’s a decent man who’s seen and done awful things in his time in the Royal Marines.

These things, he locked in a vault long ago when he first met the love of his life, and will not speak of them.
That’s how it used to be for old soldiers. Do your duty, leave and make a life.

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“Lake Mungo”: wizardry from Oz

The outline of “Lake Mungo” is how an Australian family, its neighbors and acquaintances suffer through the sudden loss of a 16 year old daughter, the unraveling of secrets, and perceptions turned into enmity close to hatred.
The incident is a drowning.

Movie poster

What follows are detailed, keenly observed reactions of all who were touched by Alice Palmer’s (Talia Zucker) death.

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Conservatory of Flowers in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park: Part 1, The Lowland Tropics

On Sunday, Lastech and I went adventuring in the city. San Francisco has many beautiful places and sometimes we like to be tourists for a day.  We had never been to the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park, so we decided it was time. Now we wonder what took us so long. The day was sunny and the visit was beautiful. I took so many pictures that they will come in installments.

Anyone who comes to San Francisco should try to find the time to visit the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park. Opened to the public 1879, it is the oldest building in the park. It houses around 1700 plant species. The orchid collection is said to be one of the best.

Conservatory of Flowers
Conservatory of Flowers

The Conservatory of Flowers is located at 100 John F. Kennedy Drive. It is accessible for motorized and non motorized wheelchairs. Strollers are not permitted inside, but there is a place to park them while you explore. As it is a greenhouse, it will be quite warm and humid inside. As it can be rather cold outside, be sure to wear removable layers. It is open Tuesday thru Sunday from 10am to 4:30pm. The cost is $7 for adults, $5 for ages 12-17, seniors 65 & over, and college students with school ID. $2 for children 5 – 11 and free for children 4 and under. Local residents receive a discount with proof of residency.

Note: On Sundays, John F. Kennedy Drive is closed to vehicular traffic. For those who don’t mind walking, you can just park on Martin Luther King Drive and walk to the Conservatory.

As I noted earlier, the Conservatory of Flowers was opened to the public in 1879. The architecture is said to have been inspired by London’s Kew Gardens. It is of wood and glass construction. The original wood used in construction was coastal redwood.

Once at the Conservatory you enter via the vestibule to the 60 foot high pavilion. This part of the Conservatory houses the Lowland Tropics plants. These are plants that grow in the low-lying tropical forests found in Mexico, Brazil, and Indonesia at altitudes less than 3,000 feet.

This area houses plants such as coffee, bananas, cacao, cycads, and a 100 year old imperial philodendron.

I hope you enjoy the following pictures and with luck, they will inspire you to visit the Conservatory of Flowers one day.

 

Next time we’ll explore the Potted Plant Gallery.


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“Wasting away”: cute? Zombie? Comedy? Why, yes!

Cute couple, innit?

Wasting away” is also available under the alternate title “Aaah! Zombies!!” and takes a page from “return of the living dead”, scripted and directed by Dan O’Bannon whose prolific career includes collaboration with John Carpenter on “Dark Star”, Ronald Shusett on “Alien”, adapting and scripting “total recall” and another obscure little film titled “screamers” based on a Philip K. Dick story “second variety”. “Wasting away”, then, begins with a military transport dumping its load of chemical containers filled with failed research fluids, originally intended to create super-soldiers, but really turning them into raving zombies.

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Midnight Movie Madness: “the human centipede”

The human centipede – First sequence” – (92 minutes, Netherlands 2009, rated R)

Two girls from New York (Ashley C. Williams and Ashlynn Yennie) find themselves stranded in the German countryside after getting a flat tire. Seeking refuge from a leering local and the rain, they knock on Dr. Heiter’s (Dieter Laser) front door, asking to use his phone.

The human centipede movie poster

Unfortunately for them, Heiter, an expert on the surgical separation of Siamese twins and dedicated misanthrope (Heiter, get it?), has decided to “create” rather than “destroy”, and plans to stitch the girls and a Japanese man end to end, as it were, mouth to nether region (get it?) forming a continuous digestive system… A Siamese triplet.

You pretty much know what “the human centipede” is about going in, you’re just not sure how bad it’s going to be. You also know ten minutes in that whatever’s coming to the two girls, they deserve it: they would make Darwin spin in his grave. They are the first stereotypical characters of the movie, and pretty much scream from beginning to end.
The two cops who appear towards the end also are clear stereotypes, virtually identical in both look and clothing. The thing about stereotypes is that they can actually be funny, as in biting satires, but more often than not, they’re just lazy.

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Tito’s Guide to Cats: Drinking water

MeeMEE! I just learned something about my fellow kitties. We really know how to maximize physics when we drink water.

From the Washington Post

While a dog curls its tongue like a ladle to collect the water and then pull up what it can, a cat curves its tongue under and slightly back, leaving the top surface of the tip of the tongue to lightly touch the liquid. The cat then raises its tongue rapidly, creating an upward mini-stream of water. The cat snaps its mouth shut and the water is captured before the countervailing force of gravity pulls it down.
An average house cat, the team found, can make four of these mini-streams per second.

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Dino De Laurentiis passed away today

Dino De Laurentiis has passed away at the age of 91.  He was a huge man in the movie industry.

De laurentiis was born in 1919 in a small village near Naples, Italy. He enrolled in film school at the age of 17 and at 20 had already produced his first film. He went on to produce many films and won his first Oscar for producing Federico Fellini’s La Strada followed by another Oscar for Fellini’s Nights of Cabiria.  Both films won for the Best Foreign Language category.

Dino De Laurentiis produced a great many films.   Some of his more memorable films include Serpico (1973), Dune (1984), Army of Darkness (1992), and Red Dragon (2002). Of course, we just cannot forget that 1968 classic, Barbarella. In the end, he produced more than 150 films.

Dino De Laurentiis will be missed. He is survived by his wife and children.

Midnight Movie Madness: Threepenny Opera

Threepenny opera” – (112 minutes, Germany 1931, NR)

Thank God for egotists..?

Die 3 Groschen Oper”… Of late, we have been going through several films of significance, centering around the evil men are capable of. I am thinking mainly of “the killer inside me” and “Wolf Creek”, but there’s more: “Psycho”, “M” and much more.
If you are familiar with “threepenny opera” you might think the comparison to be strange, but it really isn’t.
Threepenny opera” began as a stage play written by Bertolt Brecht, a playwright of vision and talent who was also very difficult to work with, focusing as he did on differences rather than goals. Basically an egotistic prick with talent, Brecht’s history is fascinating in itself but is not the focus of this piece.
One of the protagonists (antagonists?) of “threepenny opera” is Macheath “Mackie” Messer, a psychopathic killer, in modern terms. You are probably familiar with the song “Mack the knife”, which has seen several interpretations over the years, by Louis Armstrong, Bobby Darin and Frank Sinatra among others.
But the original version is not quite so… watered down, and we actually owe its existence to Harald Paulsen, another egotistic you-know-what who was cast as Macheath before Rudolf Forster replaced him, and most likely for the better.
The fact remains, however, that if not for Paulsen’s demands to have a song introducing his character, we would not have this classic today.

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Halloween gruesomeness

Don’t know why I’d been saving this one up but here’s a crime scene pic from Halloween.
And finally, oh yes, finally, I’ll get my hands on “the human centipede” DVD Monday. At long last.

This. Is... SPARTA...!!!!


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