inside the mind

This was on the list of 50 films never nominated for an Academy Award, for my 101 Things in 1001 Days.

The story is Ethan Edwards (John Wayne) returning home three years after he fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War.  Shortly after he arrives at his brother's homestead, he joins a posse looking for a cattle rustler. While they're on the trail, his brother's farm is attacked by Commanche, the adults slaughtered and his young niece Debbie is kidnapped. The rest of the film follows his years-long quest to find his niece.

Ethan's motivation throughout the film is clear. He wants revenge for the murder of his brother's family, and holds a burning hatred of the Commanche, and "Indians" in general. Debbie's captor and Ethan's adversary, "Scar" is no different. He, too, is motivated by hatred, and vengeance for the murder of his sons.

This movie is considered a classic, with iconic scenes that have been copied or inspired the work of other filmmakers.

I thought it was an interesting character study. Though the blatant racism bothered me, I think that was largely the point of the film: the lengths that hate will drive people to.

Just watched Old Yeller, though for the life of me I can't think why.

I'm sure I saw it as a kid. I'm just as sure that I read the book. I know the story, and how it ends. In fact, it's practically a trope now.

It was in my Netflix queue, so I assumed it was on one of the many lists of movies I'm supposed to watch for the 101 Things in 1001 Days, but it's not.

It's a story of a boy, his mother, his brother, and their dog. A stray yellow "yeller" dog shows up at their farmhouse in rural post Civil War Texas. Through loyalty, bravery and usefulness, the dog proves his worth to the family. Until the fateful day when, while saving the family from a rabid wolf, Old Yeller gets the disease and forces the family to make a heartbreaking decision.

As much as it's a story about the bond between dog and family, it's also the growing up summer of young Travis Coates, the older brother and at first reluctant dog owner. With his father on a cattle drive, Travis is the man of the house, and grows into the role with his mother's gentle guidance and the occasional bit of advice from other local men.

In typical 50s Disney style, it's heavy on family values, light on cultural tolerance. The sets are quite obviously fake. The theme song is pretty ridiculous. But with all that said, it's a good story: tragic but hopeful.

Jacob T. MarleyJacob T. Marley by R. William Bennett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm not sure how I came across this book, but I know it was fairly recently. I was intrigued by the premise.

This is the story of Scrooge's partner, Jacob Thelonius Marley, and how he came to visit Ebenezer on that fateful Christmas Eve.

It's told in a very Dickensian voice, and tells a story very different than Scrooge's. Jacob was born into a loving family, and found his way to greed through another vice, pride. How his pride and greed affect him and those around him is the first half of the story. The second half is what happens after he died, seven years ago that very Christmas Eve.

As Marley tells Scrooge in "A Christmas Carol," Scrooge's chance to avoid Marley's fate was "a chance of my procuring." And so we learn how Marley arranged the intervention. And Marley is there at Scrooge's side during his ghostly adventures.

I really enjoyed the book - a very quick read - though I feel it's largely unnecessary. "A Christmas Carol" doesn't need any help. But then, neither did "Hamlet," and "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead" is still a lot of fun.

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The Sixty-Eight Rooms (Sixty-Eight Rooms #1)The Sixty-Eight Rooms by Marianne Malone
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read this as one of my 2015 TBR pile challenge books. It ended up on my TBR pile because of the subject matter: the Thorne Rooms at the Art Institute of Chicago. I've seen and admired those rooms, and though I don't usually read young adult lit, I was curious about how they'd be handled.

The story is pretty basic. Two grade-school kids visit the Art Institute and discover a key in an access corridor behind the Thorne Room displays. They realize that the key has the ability to shrink them down to the right size to enter and live in the rooms.

Excited and curious, they plan a weekend adventure where they hide in the museum so they can visit all the rooms at their leisure. It's pretty reminiscent of "From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler," if you know the story.

Together they try to solve the mystery of what the key is and how it works.

It was a pretty well-told story. There was a lot of detail in how the children handled the logistics of getting around the full-sized parts of the museum when they'd shrunk down to Thorne Room size. There were also sub-plots that pulled everything all together.

The descriptions of the Thorne Rooms were very detailed and added a lot to the story. This is the first in a series, though I doubt I'll read any of the others, the first one does stand on its own.

I'm not sure how much interest the stories would hold for someone who isn't familiar with the Thorne Rooms, though I'll also say it made me want to learn more about them.

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Tribute by Nora Roberts

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It took me forever to read this book. I kept starting it and putting it down, which is not usually how Nora Roberts books work for me. I finally read all the way through it as part of my TBR Pile Challenge, and I'm glad I did.

Cilla is a former child actress, granddaughter to a true Hollywood star. She's left "the business" behind to follow her true calling: rehabbing and flipping houses. Now she faces her greatest challenge: to restore the farmhouse her famous grandmother lived in, loved, and ended her life in.

Her neighbor, Ford, is a graphic novelist. He sees the potential in the house, and in Cilla.

But someone doesn't want the house restored. Will that person drive Cilla away? Or will she just rehab the house, flip it and move on?

Like most Nora Roberts books, there was a lot of great detail in character, and a lot of description of the work people do. It was an interesting read from that perspective, as well as a good story. I don't know why it took so long to finish, but I'm glad I did.

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Watched for the 3rd 101 Things in 1001 Days, from the list of 50 movies never nominated for an Academy Award.

A local news reporter (Jane Fonda) and her crew accidentally stumble upon a problem when they're profiling a nuclear reactor as part of a puff piece on local energy providers. Fonda's anti-nuke cameraman (a young and hairy Michael Douglas) steals the film when the station refuses to air it.

Fonda's digging uncovers a cover-up at the nuclear plant and a duped, loyal employee. The power company has a deep-pocketed interest in keeping things under control, and the reporters race against time to get the truth out before the next big accident happens.

In reading up about the movie, I learned about the coincidence that it was released just weeks before an almost identical event happened at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania. I thought it was okay. Very dated, but interesting enough to keep my attention. We don't hear as much about nuclear power as we used to.

There has been a spate of anti-Jewish violence in Europe lately. After the attacks on Charlie Hedbdo in France, a Jewish deli was attacked and two people were killed.  Elsewhere in France, more than 300 graves in a Jewish cemetery were desecrated. Recently there was an attack on a synagogue in Copenhagen.

But most of us don't hate. We respect.  And in Norway, a group of Muslim citizens will be forming a "ring of peace" around a synagogue on Saturday.

image: Washington Post

From the Washington Post:

Here's a translated version of the invite:

Islam is about protecting our brothers and sisters, regardless of which religion they belong to. Islam is about rising above hate and never sinking to the same level as the haters. Islam is about defending each other. Muslims want to show that we deeply deplore all types of hatred of Jews, and that we are there to support them. We will therefore create a human ring around the synagogue on Saturday 21 February. Encourage everyone to come! ...
Close to 1,000 people have indicated on Facebook that they will attend.
I'd be there, too.

The ChairThe Chair by James L. Rubart
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read this book out of curiosity. It was offered free on Amazon, and the premise sounded interesting: An antiques dealer is given a chair that may have been built by Christ.

It was simply written, and naturally very faith-based. Even so, it seemed to fall apart at the end. I guess I expected more of a mystery solved by investigation, rather than the faith journey that the book was all about. The story had a lot of tell rather than show, as well.

It was a nice story, but all the same, I don't think I'll be reading any more of the author's books.

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Blog 365...

17. What was the last new thing you tried? 
A breathing test.

18. My biggest hope is...
To get my new medical condition under control.

endomental: Inside the mind

A collection of things that, for one reason or another, interest me.

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Savor the MomentHow to Be President: What to Do and Where to Go Once You're in OfficeBeyond the Miracle Worker: The Remarkable Life of Anne Sullivan Macy and Her ExtraordinaryFriendship with Helen KellerBlack HillsThe quahog stops hereFounding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation

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