Saturday Morning Brain Drain [24/9/22]

a place to let it all out

What I watched:  Death on the Nile, the latest in the Agatha Christie revivals.  I very much like how Kenneth Branagh approaches the character of Poirot.  He’s much more watchable than the stiff version from those old Masterpiece shows.  Of course, I’m not exactly a Christie aficionado, so others may disagree, but I really don’t give a shit.  Good movie.  Worth watching.

What I read:  My hot streak came to a screeching halt.  I had put in a request to my local library for a book and it seems they’re taking their own sweet time about getting it.  So, I didn’t read shit.

What I listed to:  Our next stop on the best engineered albums of all time is The Look of Love by Diana Krall.  Released in 2001, this was her sixth album and my personal favorite.  Her early work was a trio of piano, bass and guitar with her vocals—and is great stuff—but I really liked the big approach they took with recording her with the London Symphony Orchestra…but that could simply be my bias for orchestral recordings.  The one stylistic criticism I have is that they deemphasized her piano playing, which is excellent.  Overall, I’ve always had a great appreciation for Diana Krall because—aside from that one disastrous attempt to make some mailbox money for her talentless hack of a husband—she has made a point of bringing back many of the old standards so they can stay in the collective listening consciousness.  Yet, she does more than just revive these songs—she puts her own signature on them, which is part of what makes her albums so listenable.  Her version of “I Get Along Without You Very Well” still gives me chills every time I hear it.  I’m betting that Al Schmitt used a Decca Tree to record the orchestra, based on what I’m hearing, but that’s just a guess.  Anyway, this is great stuff.

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When you can walk its length, and leave no trace, you will have learned.


  1. What I watched: One of the few Rosalind Russell movies I had never seen before, The Trouble With Angels. Released in 1966, Hayley Mills and June Harding are two girls shipped off to a Catholic convent school. Roz plays the Mother Superior and Mary Wickes is one of the other nuns (the gym teacher.) There’s also a brief cameo (uncredited) by Jim Hutton, who went on to play Ellery Queen in the 1970s and was the father of Timothy. AND Gypsy Rose Lee shows up toward the end. It was directed by Ida Lupino, who I did not know transitioned from acting to become a well-respected director. I also did not know that in real life Rosalind Russell was a devout Catholic until I read more about this movie post-viewing. In the movie the girls spend three years at the school and are supposed to go from ages 14 to 17. In reality Hayley Mills was 19 and Harding her sidekick was 28.

    It’s very funny but super-Catholic. I wonder if the creator of Derry Girls has ever seen it and if that’s where the inspiration came from. The movie is considered a kind of hallmark in women’s filmmaking since the book it was based on was written by a woman, its director was a woman, and it’s basically an all-female cast, taking place in a convent school and all.

  2. And by the way how dare you with that crack about Diana Krall’s husband. Were you in a coma during the late 70s through the mid-80s when British New Wave crashed upon these shores like a dinosaur-killing meteorite? Did you not Pump It Up? Did you not join Oliver’s Army? Were you not Watching the Detective? Singing about Alison? Not Everyday Writ(ing) the Book? I think you owe Declan Patrick MacManus, OBE, an apology.

    • I knew someone would bite.  He sucked then and he sucks now.  Getting his supremely talented wife to try and bring him back to a relevance he never deserved in the first place failed miserably, as it should have.

      • …wouldn’t particularly count myself a fan of the man but I don’t think he’s irredeemably awful…pretty sure there’s at least one song if his I might not object to if it came on at a party

        …I am reliably informed that parties of that sort do still take place even if I mostly seem to be called upon to celebrate single digit birthdays of late…so I think that counts as something that could conceivably happen?

      • Here’s Dec speaking when Elvis Costello and the Attractions was inducted into the Rock ‘n Roll Half of Fame:

        I couldn’t find his speech from when he was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

        Plus he has that OBE. He got that in 2019, so either Theresa May, Boris Johnson, or perhaps even the Queen herself was/is a fan. I bet it was Boris Johnson, he’s the right age to have fallen under the sway when he was at Eton and Oxford.


  3. I’ve been catching up on She-Hulk and it cracks me up. The whole sub plot about dating in your 30s? Fucking spot on.

    Aside from that, Dancing with the Stars started their 31st season, so there’s a not low chance that Monday’s NOT will be a running commentary of my criticism.

  4. I had to pore over questions and finish my assignment for Lean Six Sigma… I enjoy math but statistics is not one of those things about math i enjoy.

    It’s also not very entertaining.

  5. READ:

    To a Mountain in Tibet by Colin Thubron. Yep, more travel lit, although much more contemporary than Robert Louis Stevenson. Anyway, I quite liked this and will look for more by him. I’ve not read him previously, so happy to find another travel writer to follow. Highly recommended.


    I’ve finally started ripping my CD collection to mp3s in earnest (instead of previous piece-meal efforts). Well aware of the dinosaur that I am, I am looking forward to having more of my older stuff on my devices and in the cloud so that I can listen (relisten) to it all. While I enjoy REM, The Connells should have had similar success, IMO. Highly recommended.


    Over the past month or 6 weeks or so, I was too restless (stressed) to read at times, so I gave in to the fact that we have several streaming services thanks to Ms. Meme’s movie/TV appetite. I watched Moon Knight (meh) and The Witcher (also meh). I am currently alternating between Sandman (a little better) and Umbrella Academy (again, meh). Honestly don’t know if I will finish either, because my reading is starting to pick back up. We’ll see. Can’t recommend any of it at this point.

  6. …I was preoccupied by a birthday party for a two year old this time last week so I’m sure there were a couple of things I would have mentioned then but apparently as ever my recollection of what I’ve whiled away my hours with of late seems patchy at best

    …still watching the lord of the rings & game of thrones prequels…& still liking she-hulk a fair bit

    …finally got around to watching thor: love & thunder…which I enjoyed but felt uneven in pretty much the ways someone else’s comments about it had made me figure it might be

    …& I swept through the recently released season of the animated lower decks star trek show…which I still think is pleasantly diverting if you have a bit of fondness for trek but don’t object to poking some fun at it

    …also…never seem to get around to mentioning books in these but after a not-entirely-unpredictable effort of peter f hamilton’s called the great north road…which is a doorstop of a tome but unlike most of his does stand alone rather than being one of a series…aliens… surveillance states & mercantile imperialism with a female protagonist who’d probably get along pretty well with ripley from the alien films

    …I seem to have gone on a bit of a crime spree…there were a handful of “arrowwood” books in which the dr watson analogue is much more likeable than the detective with a chip in his shoulder about the fame enjoyed by sherlock holmes

    …& then a few of michael connolly’s lincoln lawyer series…I know there was a movie & recently a TV show I think I watched a bunch of a some point…but it was only reading one of the later books I realised that they’re stories that run in parallel with the bosch books…in fact mikey haller is apparently bosch’s half-brother & they pop up in one another’s stories semi-frequently

    …think titus welliver might be done with making bosch shows but it’d make an interesting crossover if they’d had him be that detective in that lincoln lawyer show?

  7. What I read: Prisoners of the Castle by Ben Macintyre, from the author of Operation Mincemeat, another fave of mine. This was a wonderful book about the POWs held in Germany’s notorious Colditz castle-prison. I was going to pass along the Amazon listing but it’s so junked up with irrelevant and unwanted crap I’ll give you instead the Publisher’s Weekly summary instead:

    Even this doesn’t really do it justice. There are lots of very funny parts (despite its rather grim setting) and a lot of social and biographical detail. One of the detainees was a rather humorless Army chaplain, a good Church of Englander, and his insights are pretty funny, but they weren’t funny to him.

    • There’s a documentary which is fun on the attempt to build a glider to fly out of Colditz. They made a faithful replica of the prisoner glider and launched it from the top of the castle, and decided an escape might have worked.

      Of course the challenge with a lot of these things is not whether they can fly but whether they can land, and there’s no way to know what  winds, trees or rocks they might have encountered.

      • If I’m remembering correctly there was a forest on one side or maybe mostly surrounding the castle but there was also a landscaped park. Maybe if they had landed in the park and weren’t shot first they could have escaped into the forest and in disguise blended into the scenery. At least one of them knew German fluently and was a good mimic: at one point he successfully impersonated the commander of Colditz and came very close to getting them all to escape, except that the last guard he encountered smelled something fishy and asked to see his identity card. He had one, a forged one, but it was a piece of paper whose color changed daily and his was the wrong color. (These IDs didn’t have photos on them, they were more like daily passes.)

  8. I read Confessions by Kanae Minuto. A young teacher plots an elaborate revenge on a couple of her students, told in alternating POVs. This book was widely acclaimed when released in Japan and in Europe/US after its translation. And I just don’t get the high praise. Maybe I  don’t know enough about Japanese school and family culture but it seemed ridiculously improbable from every perspective. Skip it.

  9. I read Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel yesterday. It was… weird. Not bad-weird, but… weird. Certainly kept my attention, though, since I read it in one day! One of those books with multiple timelines that all eventually converge and start to make sense, but the first 40% of the book I was like, “… ok… but how did we get here??”

    Also read the new J. D. Robb, Desperation In Death, which was really, really good, but some heavy material in there.

    @elliecoo thank you for posting the free kindle books link! @hannibal passed it along to me, and I downloaded about 300 books!

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