Wednesday, July 22, 2009


If you’ve read my profile you know that I enjoy film noir. There’s just something about the haze, grittiness and mystery of the film. These are some of the elements of film noir:
urban setting
Crime (usually murder)
light/ dark contrasts
femme fatale
moral issues
twisting plot

They’re usually venetian blind shadows, wet alleys and brick walls too. The earlier movies were usually in black & white. Many of the movies of the ‘50’s that would qualify as noir were in color.
On one of my visits to the library I came across this DVD, The Ultimate Film Noir
A five disc set of film noir. Each disc has 2 movies on it. I had my own private film noir film festival. And though the movies aren’t in color, I always enjoy the beautiful clothes the women wear. I sometimes look for the designer Edith Head in the credits.
Some of these movies I’d seen before but a few were new to me such as: Whistle Stop, He Walked By Night, Trapped and Quicksand. I think my favorite was Quicksand with Mickey Rooney because I’d never seen him in a role as a bad guy. But I’ve got to say, he pulled it off.
Here’s one definition I found of film noir.
"shadowy, pessimistic movie: a cinematic genre popular in the 1930's,1940s and 1950s, often filmed in urban settings with extensive use of shadows, cynical in outlook, and featuring antiheroes. French, "black film""
I searched YouTube and found a few modern film noir done by film students. Here's the link to one of those. And this one which is a little humorous.
Here's the link to a film noir quiz . My score was 8 out of 10. How well can you do.
Pssst ?You'll be surprised at what the venetian blinds symbolize.
Just to add to the subject here are some pics I took of downtown Birmingham at night. If only I could remember what they are. ?????

Taken from the windshield of my car


Friday, July 17, 2009

Pay at the Pump

Pay at the pump should mean just that. I have vowed to stop patronizing gas stations that use this bait and switch tactic.

Picture this. It’s raining and I need gas. I pull into the “cheap” gas station to fill my tank. I decide to use my credit card to avoid going inside to pay. Following the directions on the pump I slide in my card, remove it. It then asks for my zipcode, then my address, next my city. I want gas not a penpal. Meanwhile the blowing rain continues. Exasperated, I go inside to pay.

I ask to use the restroom. I am told by the attendant that someone took the key and didn’t return it. So, my question is, where does he go when nature calls? In a fruit jar under the counter? This is called bad customer service. I guess this is what you get when you go cheap. You get what you pay for.

If I can't pay at the pump remove the credit card reader.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Woodlawn United Methodist Church

I’ve always admired the architecture and beauty of Woodlawn United Methodist Church. It was built in 1912 and was on it’s way to becoming a century old. Unfortunately, the church met its end on May 31st. A fire broke out around 1:45 pm during a worship service and the church immediately became engulfed in flames. This church is along the thoroughfare I use to get from one side of town to the other. I remember heading down First Avenue on that very day and having to detour because the street had been blocked off. The detour was a good distance from the church so I had no idea what was going on.

I was stunned to learn that fire had consumed this historic edifice. None of the worshippers were injured but one firefighter received non life threatening injuries when debris fell on his shoulder.
Additional pictures and video of the fire can be found here. Also, here.

Antiques enthusiasts and E-Bay merchants would probably enjoy sifting through the ruins for any memorabilia from the old church. I suppose that’s what prompted this sign.
The pastor of the church , Larry Horne vows that they will not be leaving the area. He stated , "we will be here.” I suppose this positive attitude is what motivated this sign.

Each time I pass the church now, I shake my head in disbelief at the loss of such a beautiful structure.
This is a picture of the church in the 1920’s

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Neo Jazz Collective

The refreshing sounds of cool jazz emanating from Eastwood Public Library was a summer delight last week. Public libraries have become very community oriented. At one time libraries were places that demanded quiet along with straitlaced, cranky librarians and shelves crammed with stuffy, boring books.

Dr. Lud Israel directs the talented young musicians who make up Neo Jazz Collective. It is my understanding that they will be performing at several libraries around the city. If you'd like to see some of their other performance venues watch this YouTube clip . And this one.
The students ages range from 11 to 18 years of age.

They have a CD which they recorded at the famed Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame. I would have purchased one but I had to leave while they were still performing.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


I’ve read quite a bit about how to dry hydrangeas. About 10 years ago I did this by tying the stems together and hanging them upside down in my basement. I kept those dried flowers for 4 years until I just plain got tired of looking at them. They really hold up well. I have actually seen people at outdoor markets selling dried hydrangeas for a very hefty price.
A couple weeks ago I was fortunate to have a bouquet of big leaf hydrangeas given to me. I wanted to preserve them as long as possible so this time I stood them upright inside a tomato cage I wasn’t using inside the garage. I think they turned out pretty good. BTW I don’t know what the smaller flowers are but they seem to have done well also.

I have to warn you they're very fragile once they're dry. Have some idea as to how you plan to arrange them before putting them in a vase or pot. Otherwise, you're likely to lose a lot of blossoms.

This is Genovese Basil growing in a pot. It makes great pesto. I found a recipe at All
I make sure I keep it watered with the days here in the upper 90's. It grows very fast. When cutting make sure you leave a cluster of four leaves so that it will continue to grow.
Here's the recipe . Although I plan to tweak it by using chopped peanuts instead of almonds. (Remember I'm thrifty)

*1/4 cup almonds (substitute chopped peanuts)
*3 cloves garlic
*1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves
*1/2 cup olive oil
*1 pinch ground nutmeg
*salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Place almonds on a cookie sheet, and bake for 10 minutes, or until lightly toasted. (Omit this step. The peanuts are already roasted)
2. In a food processor, combine toasted almonds, garlic, basil, olive oil, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Process until a coarse paste is formed.
Note: Pick basil the same day you plan to make pesto. I made the mistake of placing the picked leaves in the fridge. NOT a good idea. It wilted away and spoiled.

Put this concoction on toasted garlic bread or pasta and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and you've got a tasty

Roma Tomato
The Roma tomato is pear shaped and comes in red and yellow. I chose red . I have planted yellow in the past but to me they weren't as sweet as the red. There was too much tartness. The Roma is also known as the “plum tomato” . The white you see is where I tied it to the stake in the pot.

Just for good measure I wanted to show you my rosemary plant also in a pot. The picture shows it looking a little dry but I promise I watered it right after I took the picture. This baby was saved from last year. I brought it inside and nursed it the same as a houseplant. Summer has returned and it's still alive. Some people use this plant as a hedge. Can you imagine the aroma as the wind blows? Delicious.

I've grown a little of everything in a pot in the past. I plan to experiment even more in the future.
Lastly, to show that I'm into recycling, I put the watering jug underneath the air conditioning drain and use the water for my plants. It would only drip on the ground if I didn't.