Monday, January 28, 2013

The Monolith Monsters

I wasn’t expecting, when I sat down in front of the TV, on Friday night a week and a half ago, to watch a black and white movie with such a title, that I was going to like it this much. But I did!

For a 1957 science-fiction B-movie, The Monolith Monsters, directed by John Sherwood and starring Grant Williams, Lola Albright, Les Tremayne and Trevor Bardette, is (almost) surprisingly good.

After an ominous voiceover introduction on rocks hurling at our planet from the cold, unknown reaches of space, a meteorite is shown crashing in the desert, outside of a small California town. With the impact, it explodes into hundreds of black fragments. The next day, a federal geologist driving through the desert stops his car right where many of the smaller fragments are scattered on the road. (Don’t stop! Don’t stop! Don’t pick it up!) But despite my mental pleadings, he picks up one of these rocks and takes it to his office.

You know what will happen, right? He keeps touching it, cutting it, studying it… but nothing good can come out of this, right?

Right. The next day, his colleague, Dave (Grant Williams), who had been absent from the office, returns to find him dead, in a strangely petrified state, while the lab is filled with an overgrown black rock. He might’ve dropped some water on the original piece, but Dave doesn’t know that.

The same day, Cathy the schoolteacher (Lola Albright), who is also Dave’s girlfriend, takes the children on a field trip… guess where? To the desert… There, a smart, inquisitive young girl (Linda Scheley) notices a black rock. (Don’t pick it up! Don’t pick it up! Go away!) She doesn’t listen to me, of course, and takes it home. Her mother would not allow her to bring a dirty rock inside the house, so she leaves it outside in a basin filled with water to get it clean. Oh, no! Oh, no!

Well, I’ll let you watch the movie to find out the rest…

The characters are interesting and varied; besides the ones already mentioned, we have the journalist (Les Tremayne), Dave’s old college professor (Trevor Bardette), the local physician (Richard H. Cutting), the chief of Police (William Flaherty), the doctor in Los Angeles (Harry Jackson). They all add depth to the story, making it even more likeable, and raising the quality of the movie above its B status.

The plot is not perfect and I admit having some (big...gish) question marks at the end, but this didn’t make it at all less enjoyable. The special effects are great. They were created by Clifford Stine whose career has started with King Kong in 1933, and that means something.

All in all, this movie is a little gem. I watched it with my young daughters and they were glued to the screen and even a bit nervous at times, but still glued to the screen.

The trailer might give away a bit too much of the story, but the movie is still very enjoyable to watch.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Haiku Reflections - by Geraldine Helen Hartman

Geraldine Hartman presents in this little book (78 pages), published in 2012 by CreateSpace, an assortment of her thoughts on nature through the seasons.

Some of the haikus in this collection have appeared previously on Geraldine’s blog, My Poetic Path, where she has paired them with her beautiful photography. In fact, I was wondering, before starting to read them in the book, how they would fare without the enhancement of images.

It turns out they are doing very well. Even better, I would say, since the readers can create their own images.

Because Geraldine does not simply write about the four seasons, she somehow, miraculously, but in fact very skillfully, captures them in her words.

Spring sings of renewed life in crunchy bulbs, summer lounges lavishly by the lake, autumn throws carpets of crisp colours underneath our feet, winter is a quiet beast, safer to be observed from within the warmth of familiar things, yet hinting at the promise of another spring.

In her verse, Geraldine weaves an enchanted array of colours, smells, sounds, textures, temperatures, and feelings. The imagery is simple, yet always surprising in the best of ways. A robin is a feathered talisman, felines are furry kisses… Even the occasional sadness or nostalgia, unavoidable, are soothed by the awareness of the permanence of nature, of our place in it.

This is a collection of delicate beauty, to which one can return time and again, a pleasure to the soul, one that refreshes, inspires, and ultimately gives hope.

I liked it so much that I wrote for it my first review on Amazon! Very highly recommended.

Monday, January 07, 2013


Somehow, to me this New Year feels less delineated than previous ones. January 1st feels more like just a date in the calendar than a new beginning. Thus, my need for New Year’s resolutions is vague, if anything.

Certainly, I could promise myself to write a novel, to finish what I have started, to write more on this blog, to visit more blogs, or rather give a sign that I’ve been there, to read more books, to do this, that and the other, and, of course, all of them more, more, and more, faster, faster, and faster. After all, I did that every January. And every year I did my best to achieve these goals of doing, and if I couldn’t, then I would struggle even more. With each new struggle to do more and do it faster, regardless of its outcome, one thing came for sure. One thing that I’ve come to dread. The overwhelming feeling of Time slipping through my fingers, bringing about the panic of running out of time.

This has to change. Because, you see, this time I’m planning more to be than to do. Just be, here and now, smell the roses or the coffee, even write a line or two when I feel like it, with no pressure. I’m not that sure how this can be done, but I’ll learn.

Less is more, that’s what they say, don’t they?

So, yes, this is my resolution for 2013. Slowness.

 watercolor by Amelia Jane Murray, Lady Oswald, 1800-1896