sovay: (Rotwang)
sovay ([personal profile] sovay) wrote2016-09-13 02:11 am

In the darkness of my night, in the brightness of my day

And today in excitement nobody asked for: frightened by the noise of the lawn guys who came to the house this afternoon while I was out at a PT appointment and picking up the keys for the new apartment, Hestia contrived to take refuge behind the refrigerator in the summer kitchen and was still there when [livejournal.com profile] derspatchel and I got home, although this was not immediately apparent when Autolycus ran to meet us and there was a conspicuous absence of other little cat. By now we are used to her seeming disappearances into thin air, but she was not in any of her known hiding places, not under the blankets on the futon, not behind the piled kindling on the grill, not behind the dismembered tabletop which leans up against the kitchen cabinets. I turned off the fan so that we could listen for noises; she did not mew even in response to our voices or the shaking of treats, but eventually we heard a thin little rustle and Autolycus started nosing around the front of the refrigerator. Rob shifted away some of the boxes and we shone a flashlight into the thin gap to the left-hand side where the cabinets don't quite meet. We saw a little movement, a little black fur like the tip of a tail. It moved away, so we knew she was alive, if silent, but we weren't quite sure how she had gotten in. I had been afraid of her ending up behind the refrigerator ever since we moved in. Specifically, since it's located at a break between counters and there's a visible gap between its back and the wall, I had worried about her recklessly leaping the counters and falling in. As we discovered, she had just wriggled her way beneath the cabinets and then slunk along the low, dusty tunnel formed between the wall, the cabinets, and the piled boxes until she dead-ended behind the refrigerator. I cleared off a countertop and shone the flashlight at an angle behind the appliance and there was a small cat sitting with her tail curled around her front paws, normally black, currently a distressing floury grey with back-of-the-refrigerator shmutz. I blinked at her slowly and she blinked back; then I had to race upstairs and out the front door and ask the lawn guy who was talking to my mother to tell his partner who had just started a leaf blower directly outside the door of the summer kitchen to turn it off, please, because as soon as it started up Hestia had recoiled and flattened herself into the farthest, most disgusting corner of the refrigerator gap. (The lawn guy with the leaf blower, to his credit, turned it off.) We lured her out patiently over about the next forty-five minutes, primarily with a combination of soft talking, jingly feather, and a dish of food placed under the overhang of the cabinets. Autolycus kept trying to eat it despite having a dish of his own. Maybe she took that as an incentive. She came forth covered in cobwebs and dust and paint flakes and nothing you want to think about. We washed her with paper towels in a basin of warm water in the dry sink, dried her off, gave her treats for being a brave cat. I changed my shirt because I had had to hold her carefully, though she never brought out the claws. She only hissed once and it was at her brother. We blocked the entrance to the refrigerator run with different boxes and petted everyone a lot. She's fine now, curled comfortably on the futon while her brother relaxes on the scratch box, but that was completely unnecessary. Have some news.

1. Two years after the discovery of HMS Erebus, a hundred and seventy years after the two ships were trapped in the ice off King William Island, sealing the fate of Sir John Franklin and his disastrous expedition through the Northwest Passage, HMS Terror has been found. You couldn't ask for a better ghost ship—hatches battened, gear stowed, glass still in the windows, resting gently on the seabed of Terror Bay as though it sank straight down, sixty miles south of its last believed location. Kelp swaying rustily in cold currents, pale and red weeds thickening the helm's double wheel. "The ship's bell lies on its side on the deck, close to where the sailor on watch would have swung the clapper to mark time."

2. I never read Peter Ackroyd's Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem (1994), but I just found out there's a film adaptation. According to the Guardian: "We'll get to the juicy and suspenseful murder mystery in a moment, but all discussion about The Limehouse Golem must begin with Bill Nighy. As Scotland Yard detective John Kildare, Nighy and his late Victorian suits seem like they've stepped out of a painting. It's not just the way he looks or talks, but his elegant stride, his mercurial humour as he scrutinises clues and the way he deflects questions or reminders about his station in life. He is a greatly respected man, but one who will likely never get the position he deserves thanks to suspicions of 'not being the marrying kind'." Plus feminism, plus music-hall, plus I should hope some golem folklore, just play this movie in my city already, okay? In the meantime, I guess I'll read the book.

3. Courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] asakiyume: the lost songs of St Kilda. I don't want to call them ghost songs, because they were handed down by memory; they are still alive. I still need to see Michael Powell's Edge of the World (1937). I love the book about its making so much.

The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946) is desperately misnamed but incredibly good. Rob and I watched it tonight before he went home; it's almost a slipstream movie, overall closest to a noir but veering quite deliberately between genres in a way that means the audience cannot predict an ending, because the same suspense would resolve differently for a screwball romance than for a Gothic melodrama than for a true film noir. The plot is a constellation of four characters, three of them linked by a traumatic event in their adolescence, two of them more closely than the third suspects or the fourth cares about. Barbara Stanwyck stars as one of the more complexly damaged characters I've seen her play, a steel magnate now dominating the mill town she spent her childhood desperately trying to escape; Kirk Douglas had his film debut as her husband and I am not at all surprised that he turned out a star, because he is not yet thirty, almost impossibly handsome (he's got dimples everywhere), and his self-destructing district attorney is arrestingly unlike his later forceful image; Van Heflin was fresh off his wartime service with the Army Air Corps and has charisma coming out of his ears as a professional gambler who makes an accidental prodigal's return by rubbernecking the sign for his long-left hometown and thereby cracking up his car; and Lizabeth Scott in her second feature is no femme fatale but a sweet, tough kid who's more of an adult despite her criminal record than the power couple ruling Iverstown with all respectability. Lot's wife is a recurring image in both dialogue and action, the danger of being frozen in the past, petrified by it. We'd have called the picture Pillar of Salt, unless that was likely to disappoint crowds who came looking for a Biblical epic. It gets some interesting stuff under the radar and some equally interesting stuff out in the open. Having seen Van Heflin most characteristically in fucked-up roles, I really enjoyed him as a rakish, honest-where-it-counts hero. I may try to write more thoughtfully about it at some future point, but it's unlikely to be this week, since I have to spend Wednesday and Thursday moving and tomorrow getting ready. Toward that end, sleep.
yhlee: sleepy kitty (Cloud)

[personal profile] yhlee 2016-09-13 05:44 pm (UTC)(link)
I'm glad Hestia finally emerged!

I hope the move goes well!
dhampyresa: (Default)

[personal profile] dhampyresa 2016-09-13 09:29 pm (UTC)(link)
It's good the cat emerged safely!

Limehouse Golem sounds very interesting.

Best wishes for the move.
dhampyresa: (Default)

[personal profile] dhampyresa 2016-09-14 08:52 pm (UTC)(link)
Three moves in six weeks?! D:

Hope you get to settle down soon.

[identity profile] nineweaving.livejournal.com 2016-09-13 06:17 am (UTC)(link)
We were homeward bound one night on the deep
Swinging in my hammock I fell asleep
I dreamed a dream and I thought it true
Concerning Franklin and his gallant crew

With a hundred seamen he sailed away
To the frozen ocean in the month of May
To seek a passage around the pole
Where we poor sailors do sometimes go

Through cruel hardships they vainly strove
Their ships on mountains of ice were drove
Only the Eskimo with his skin canoe
Was the only one that ever came through

In Baffin's Bay where the whale fish blow
The fate of Franklin no man may know
The fate of Franklin no tongue can tell
Lord Franklin alone with his sailors do dwell

And now my burden it gives me pain
For my long-lost Franklin I would cross the main
Ten thousand pounds I would freely give
To know on earth, that my Franklin do live

Nine

[identity profile] sovay.livejournal.com 2016-09-13 09:47 pm (UTC)(link)
The fate of Franklin no tongue can tell
Lord Franklin alone with his sailors do dwell


I've had Fairport Convention's version of James Taylor's "The Frozen Man (https://www.sendspace.com/file/cywsdu)" stuck in my head since last night. I dreamed about the wreck.

[identity profile] swan-tower.livejournal.com 2016-09-13 07:19 am (UTC)(link)
Apparently there's a whole sub-culture of Franklin expedition historians who have spent so long obsessing over the mystery of what happened to the ships that seeing it solved actually leaves them feeling a little bereft. After the Erebus was located, there were some saying they kind of hoped the Terror would remain missing.

Me, I'm glad to know. Especially because what we found is so intriguing. (If the ship wasn't crushed by the ice, why exactly did it sink?)

Edited to add: also, your comment about "overall closest to a noir" made me wonder -- have you ever seen Brick? A search failed to turn it up in your reviews, but that's assuming that plugging the word "brick" and your site URL into Google didn't overlook anything.
Edited 2016-09-13 07:21 (UTC)

[identity profile] sovay.livejournal.com 2016-09-13 07:37 am (UTC)(link)
Me, I'm glad to know. Especially because what we found is so intriguing. (If the ship wasn't crushed by the ice, why exactly did it sink?)

Same. If what you like is the mystery, it's not like it's been destroyed by the discovery. I like the knowledge and I want to know if we are ever going to learn the rest of the story.

also, your comment about "overall closest to a noir" made me wonder -- have you ever seen Brick?

Yes, in 2010; I just didn't write much (http://sovay.livejournal.com/334335.html) about it. Now that I know more about film noir, in memory Brick looks specifically like the hard-boiled detective kind, the Raymond Chandler/Dashiell Hammett school, which I think is not actually the majority. I'm still trying to figure out how it became the default view of the genre, the strongest influence on neo-noir. It can't just be the primacy of The Maltese Falcon (1941) and The Big Sleep (1946), which despite their star power and their undeniably deserved cultural importance have started to look rather atypical to me.
Edited 2016-09-13 07:38 (UTC)

[identity profile] swan-tower.livejournal.com 2016-09-13 08:12 am (UTC)(link)
Yeah, solving one mystery just opens the door to the next one. There may come a point where we know the whole thing, but we ain't there yet.

Very glad you have seen Brick. The dialogue in that movie makes me so happy, and yeah, Joseph Gordon-Levitt knocks it out of the park. Plus, the odd hilarity of seeing noir tropes played out in a high school context (the carpet Our Protagonist is called onto is that of the vice-principal, not the police chief, etc).

[identity profile] moon-custafer.livejournal.com 2016-09-13 12:21 pm (UTC)(link)
I like the part where the Terror was found because an Inuit crew member told them how, six years ago, he and a hunting buddy had found a mast-like piece of wood sticking out of the ice, and they agreed to detour and check it out.

[identity profile] sovay.livejournal.com 2016-09-14 04:47 am (UTC)(link)
I like the part where the Terror was found because an Inuit crew member told them how, six years ago, he and a hunting buddy had found a mast-like piece of wood sticking out of the ice, and they agreed to detour and check it out.

Yes. You should listen to the short video at the top of the article, if you haven't already; I almost never do, but I wanted the footage of the ship (after I had dreamed about something totally inaccurate). Kogvik tells a version of his story.
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[identity profile] alexx-kay.livejournal.com 2016-09-14 03:21 pm (UTC)(link)
Why can't it be just that? Seems to me like exactly the sort of 'genetic bottleneck' that can cause the (once) atypical to become typical. During the rise of neo-noir, art houses would constantly show these two, and the rest of the original source material was largely unavailable.

[identity profile] sovay.livejournal.com 2016-09-14 06:35 pm (UTC)(link)
Why can't it be just that?

Because there must have been some influence from film criticism and I really don't know enough about that? The term "film noir" itself was first applied to a grouping of American movies in an essay written by Nino Frank in 1946, encompassing John Huston's The Maltese Falcon (1941), Otto Preminger's Laura (1944), Edward Dmytryk's Murder, My Sweet (1944), Billy Wilder's Double Indemnity (1944), and Fritz Lang's The Woman in the Window (1944). To me, that looks like two hardboiled adaptations (one Hammett, one Chandler), one stealth feminist suspense story (Vera Caspary), one bad romance (James M. Cain, who didn't like being labeled as a writer and especially didn't think that what he wrote was "tough, or hard-boiled, or grim, or any of the things I am usually called"), and one hilarious black-comedy nightmare (based apparently on a novel by J.H. Wallis about which I know nothing; the ending was Lang's get-out-of-jail card with the PCA, but it's the rare case where I think the results were great). As a cross-section of the genre available in 1946, or at least available to a French critic in 1946, it's a little weird but not terrible. Two private eyes, one policeman, one no-good who gets an opportunity, one ordinary citizen whose life falls down the rabbit hole. Sympathetic women as well as dangerous ones and not just the good girls who need to be saved, either. I have no idea how Frank saw any of these stories or characters, of course, but the point is that it's not just detectives and gun molls as far as the eye can see. The seminal survey of the genre was Raymond Borde and Étienne Chaumeton's Panorama du film noir américain 1941–1953 (1955) and that also must have included more than hardboiled noir; I haven't read it either, or any of the succeeding criticism of the '70's. So I'm absolutely in agreement that the availability of models can make a huge difference to the popular image of a genre—I'd seen some non-mainstream noirs before last November and I have still been radically revising my impressions in the last ten months—but there's also the process by which films are canonized or excluded or contested and I have very little idea of how any of that went down, except that every time [livejournal.com profile] bookelfe quotes something else by Foster Hirsch, I disagree with him more.
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[identity profile] alexx-kay.livejournal.com 2016-09-14 08:47 pm (UTC)(link)
Well, I have even less formal background here than you. But I'm enjoying learning-by-proxy via this journal!

[identity profile] sovay.livejournal.com 2016-09-14 11:25 pm (UTC)(link)
But I'm enjoying learning-by-proxy via this journal!

Thank you! I really feel like amateur night and am trying to get over my impostor syndrome fast enough not to annoy people, but I also just really love these movies.
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[identity profile] alexx-kay.livejournal.com 2016-09-15 12:31 am (UTC)(link)
You write beautifully, insightfully, and with passion. Your background is eclectic, true, but that makes available to you insights that a more 'expert' academic would not have. You are no imposter.

[identity profile] sovay.livejournal.com 2016-09-15 05:10 am (UTC)(link)
You are no imposter.

Thank you. I will work on getting the memo to my brain.

[identity profile] ladymondegreen.livejournal.com 2016-09-13 11:54 am (UTC)(link)
I am so glad that Hestia is ok. Thank goodness.

The Limehouse Golem sounds fascinating. If they bring it here first, or exclusively (though I hope that won't be the case) consider this an invitation to come test the sleep inducing powers of my guestroom again.

[identity profile] moon-custafer.livejournal.com 2016-09-13 12:19 pm (UTC)(link)
The Limehouse Golem is worth reading, though iirc short on actual golems. For fear of spoilers I will say no more.

[identity profile] negothick.livejournal.com 2016-09-13 04:17 pm (UTC)(link)
Agreed about the shortage! I was never so disappointed in a title since I discovered that my grandmother's jar of "Vanishing Cream" didn't work.

[identity profile] sovay.livejournal.com 2016-09-13 05:55 pm (UTC)(link)
The Limehouse Golem is worth reading, though iirc short on actual golems. For fear of spoilers I will say no more.

I appreciate the warning. I kind of figured there was not an actual golem in the movie or the review would have mentioned, but the rest of it still sounds good enough that I am interested in both versions.

[identity profile] sovay.livejournal.com 2016-09-13 05:48 pm (UTC)(link)
I am so glad that Hestia is ok. Thank goodness.

Thank you. There was a while we couldn't see well enough to tell if she could get out on her own and it was very worrying.

The Limehouse Golem sounds fascinating. If they bring it here first, or exclusively (though I hope that won't be the case) consider this an invitation to come test the sleep inducing powers of my guestroom again.

Happily!

[identity profile] gwynnega.livejournal.com 2016-09-13 05:44 pm (UTC)(link)
Poor Hestia! I'm glad she's okay.

The Strange Love of Martha Ivers is a very weird movie.

[identity profile] sovay.livejournal.com 2016-09-14 01:36 am (UTC)(link)
Poor Hestia! I'm glad she's okay.

Thank you. So are we! By the end of the night she was grooming and rolling over to have her belly petted and running to the door to meet my mother in the morning, so we think everyone is all right. Autolycus wants lots of holding and petting, but I think it will be easier for him to spend his normal amount of time with me when we aren't trying to live half in the summer kitchen and half upstairs.

The Strange Love of Martha Ivers is a very weird movie.

I really, really liked it! I had no idea what to expect from it going in; I'd seen it categorized as a film noir and the main cast looked terrific. I liked its play with genres, I liked its complicated characters (Scott's Toni is the flattest and even she has some textures outside of type), I liked that its reverberating trauma is a real tragedy rather than just a Gothic spectacle. The way it turns out is not the only way it could have gone; it's just not clear what would have helped from the start other than an entirely different set of decisions (and not having all the adults of the previous generation be terrible human beings; that might have done a lot). It has an amazing industrial mise-en-scène and the parts that are not Gothic-noir are really charming, as in, my mother couldn't figure out what we were watching because we were laughing. It doesn't feel rigged that some people get out and some don't. Sam looks back, that last time; he knows what's been lost.

[identity profile] ashlyme.livejournal.com 2016-09-13 08:43 pm (UTC)(link)
I'm pleased that Hestia's okay. Great news about both HMS Terror and the film of "Dan Leno"! I remember liking the novel at lot, but little else.

[identity profile] sovay.livejournal.com 2016-09-14 02:01 am (UTC)(link)
I'm pleased that Hestia's okay.

Thank you. It was not fun!

Great news about both HMS Terror and the film of "Dan Leno"! I remember liking the novel at lot, but little else.

I'm going to look for a copy—I'll let you know what I think!

I dreamed (http://sovay.livejournal.com/800422.html) about the Terror. I can't be the only one.