Archive for the 'Movies' Category

The Hodges Brothers, Jesse James’ Women, and the Nations Brothers

The journey to Clifftop renewed my interest in old-time music, and a recent search reminded me of this post on Bogue Chitto Flingding, an old album by the Hodges Brothers. Arhoolie has re-released the album Bogue Chitto Flingding on CD. I await the arrival of my copy. Watermelon Hangin’ on the Vine is available on eBay. The band had slipped my mind for several years. I decided to repeat my search for more information on the band.

The band played old-time and bluegrass, as I knew. To my surprise, they had recorded some rockabilly, too. The blog boppingbopping has this post about their rockabilly singles. The German, but not the English, Wikipedia has this entry on them. Several of their singles have been posted to YouTube, including “Honey Talk,” “My Heart Fell at Her Feet” and “It Won’t Be Long” on Trumpet Records in Jackson, Mississippi and “I’m Gonna Rock Some Too.” It lists Mississippi Records, Box 101, Osyka, Miss. on its label. They recorded many of their tracks at WAPF, the radio station that was still standard morning listening in my home when I was growing up.

I also stumbled across Sippiana Succotash. The blog is dedicated to memories from Brookhaven, Mississippi, the next big town north of my hometown. This blog post Bogue Chitto’s Own Recording Artists — Or Should We Say Ruth’s? pins their origins to the community of Ruth, Mississippi. Sippiana Succotash also has this post on the McGraw Family, a string band about whom little is known. That same blog had this post about Jesse James’ Women. It was filmed in Silver Creek, Mississippi. The whole thing is available on YouTube although it is not a memorable movie.

My YouTube search also led me to this video of coach Mike Hodges of Bogue Chitto on guitar. I do not know the relationship between him and the Hodges Brothers, but I am sure that there is one. Pointing to more connections, the video was posted by nations1992. The Nations Brothers are another string band I like. As far as I can find, the Nations Brothers were the only Mississippi Piney Woods string band recorded in the early era of electric recording. This blog post on Old Time Party reproduces an article about the Nations Brothers from Old Time Music magazine written and published by blogged Tony Russell. The article reports that the Nations Brothers stopped playing music and went on to lives as prominent civic figures in Brookhaven.

The blog Old Time Party is a great find. It has a wealth of information on old-time music that will take me a long time to read. The information includes multiple posts mentioning Mississippi. Old Time Magazine also published “10 Days in Mississippi” (part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4), also written by publisher Tony Russell himself. I have searched for the article for years.

This Dock Boggs and John Hurt post on Old Time Party is also excellent. It recounts a double bill concert given by them soon after their rediscoveries that featured Hurt clogging to Boggs at the show’s end. I blogged a while back about when Dock Boggs and beloved Mississippi John Hurt stayed with Mike Seeger. I suspect that it was for that concert. In that post, I mentioned W. E. Myers as a link between Boggs and Hurt. The post points to very similar lyrics in Hurt’s “Let the Mermaids Flirt with Me” and the last stanza of Boggs’ “Old Rub Alcohol Blues,” both penned by Myers. These small links are treasures.

I will watch Old Time Party closely from now on.

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Michael M. on August 11th 2012 in General, Movies, Music, Recorded

Friends helping friends move to New Orleans

I blogged twice about Brad Rhines, a friend from high school, the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science. Both posts mentioned his writing for the NOLA Defender. Catch him as an extra in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, currently in movie theaters. You can see him in this trailer on YouTube at about 0:43 as the bearded man in a top hat standing in the audience at the edge of the stage. Also see the embedded version below. He is not my only high school friend who writes for a New Orleans periodical. Jarvis DeBerry writes for the Times-Picayune, even after the recent staff cuts. Jarvis’ piece “When friends weigh a move to New Orleans” discusses their correspondence several years ago prior to Brad’s move with his wife Julie, a friend of mine from the Mississippi Governor’s School, and what advice each as to offer for folks contemplating that move now. While I will not move to New Orleans soon, I have a fascination with it, and I appreciate both of their perspectives.

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Michael M. on June 25th 2012 in General, Movies

The Help movie

During our Kansas City trip, H and I saw The Help. I previously posted this preview and this review of the novel. I expected the movie to fall somewhere between the heights it could achieve and the utter disappointment that many movie adaptations of novels are. It fell toward the better side, but it is not what it could or should have been.

The biggest problem is the overall mood of the movie. This feeling of triumph and humor is painted too prominently in the movie. In my reading, fear permeated the novel. The mood of the movie is too bright. The soundtrack promotes it. The frequency of humor does, too. Even at the end of the novel, I thought the characters could meet bad ends.

The casting has several problems, too. Aibileen Clark is played well enough, but the actress is too young. In the book, the character was older. It matters. The actress playing her gives a good performance, but the casting was not right. Of course, Skeeter Phelan is played by an actress who is not homely enough. Skeeter intelligence and ambition set her apart from her friends, but so does not being as pretty. Hilly Holbrook, Minny Jackson and Celia Foote look about like they should.

The movie, by necessity, leaves out many of the book’s best scenes. Many of the great scenes in the book involve the maids’ stories. The movie’s reduced focus on Aibileen’s quality of writing also dampens a major impact of the book. The movie also makes some plot changes regarding Skeeter’s own maid Constantine. The resulting story in the movie makes somewhat less sense.

The reactions to the movie have been mixed. That much is understandable. The movie is entertaining, but it has plenty of problems. Much of the discussion, though, focuses on the hype surrounding the movie rather than the movie itself. The movie serves as a witching rod. Some of the criticism has been off the mark.

No thanks Kathryn Stockett, I don’t want to be “The Help” at the Ladner Report comes from sociologist Joyce Ladner. Before she became a prominent academic leader and sociologist, she worked as a teenage African-American maid in Mississippi. Ladner seems critical of the book, but many of the problems she raises are ones that Kathryn Stockett clearly shares. Ladner’s points and Stockett’s points largely coincide, yet Ladner concludes “The people who populate her book and movie are viewed through rose colored glasses where everyone gets along.” Ladner understandably writes, “Moreover, there is no reason to rejoice in the good old times black servants and white employers.” Ladner tells gives a harrowing account of a few of her experiences as a maid, and her revenge by serving dirty pancakes mirrors a central episode in the book. I see Ladner’s criticism of the times, but not so much of the book. The Help is much more social criticism than celebration.

“there was his light on, waiting for me”– Ralph Eubanks on Eudora Welty’s alternate view to The Help of Jackson in 1963 from NMissCommentor pointed me to W. Ralph Eubanks‘ piece Eudora Welty’s Jackson: ‘The Help’ In Context on NPR. He makes an insightful link between the movie, whose events include the assassination of twice blogged Medgar Evers, with blogged Eudora Welty‘s short story “Where Is the Voice Coming From?” told from the imagined perspective of Evers’ killer. Eubanks deftly uses another ficitonal work to put the movie in context.

I came across Jackson Jambalaya when reading. This blog primarily concerns politics in and around Jackson, Mississippi. Judge Green dismisses Help lawsuit. (Video), a post there, brought my attention to a lawsuit filed by the housekeeper of author’s brother, Ablene Cooper. She alleged that The Help included her likeness. The judge dismissed the lawsuit, but the comments on the blog post are the more interesting feature. They include accusations of greed, accusations of manipulation by lawyers, accusations of discrimination by the judge and support for the plaintiff. The comments shed some light on race relations and attitudes toward domestic employees in modern Jackson. Prior posts related to the book and lawsuit provide more perspective.

I recommend seeing the movie. I would not see it, though, before reading the book. The book is something special. I think I am better off seeing the flaws of the movie from the perspective of knowing the book than the other way. The movie also is serving to generate discussion, and I am happy to hear more myself.

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Michael M. on August 19th 2011 in General, Movies

My Left Foot, Hulu, Netflix, Cosmos, The Third Man and Red

My Left Foot is movie adaptation of Christy Brown‘s autobiography. The Irish author and painter only had control of that foot due to cerebral palsy. The movie came out in 1989, but I had not seen it. Hulu has it as a free streaming movie. I should not have missed it for so many years. The story is moving, and Brown’s perseverance and courage were remarkable. The movie tells the story well.

I fished around Hulu because Hulu Plus is now available for a few Android devices. I installed it on my Nexus One, and it works. Using Titanium Backup, I uploaded an installation apk file from my Nexus One to Dropbox. From there, I installed in on my blogged Nook Color. It works on it, too, although not very well.

Hulu Plus is a subscription application, however, with a price of $7.99 per month. It is not worth it. There are a few free selections. In my experience with them, the app plays too many advertisements, and it often does not resume playing the show after an ad. Hulu’s choice to distinguish between phones, tablets and traditional computers is bad. All the devices are performing the same task in fundamentally the same way. I do not see why one has so much more content available for free.

I have been streaming the first episode of Carl Sagan‘s Cosmos. I blogged about his Murmurs of the Earth several years back. I remember Cosmos came on television when I was a child. My viewing has been slow so far because I have been watching in bed, and I get too sleepy too soon. I only watched a little as a boy. I think it will be rewarding to watch it.

The Netflix app works on both my Nexus One and Nook Color using a standard Netflix subscription. I used the same Titanium Backup hack to install it on my Nook Color. It seems to offer much more for roughly the same price without as many advertisements and crashes. Unlike Hulu, Netflix makes fewer distinctions between streaming to computers versus phones or tablets. I only wish more of the Netflix library were available to stream.

I watched The Third Man on my Nexus One through Netflix. I chose the movie for a few reasons. This post on Hacker News led to this list showing which of the IMDb Top 250 are available streaming from Netflix. Additionally, the soundtrack with the zither theme is terrific. It is a film noir classic whose many twists left me bewildered. The low contrast was a bad choice for a smart phone screen. Such a great detective story is confusing by design, but some of my excessive amount came from not being able to distinguish light black from dark black on the small screen.

The IMDb Top 250 and Netflix list did have some errors. H and I also watched one Red instead of this much better Red because the link was wrong. The Red we watched is a story of man whose quest for justice after a hooligan murders his dog goes horribly awry. It should have been a good movie, but much of it was overwrought and/or did not make sense. I could not stop watching. The reasons were wanting to enjoy a story about a man and his dog and marveling at how bad it was. The Red we should have watched is a great movie I saw at the Rice Cinema paired with Blue in 1995. I have yet to watch White.

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Michael M. on June 29th 2011 in General, Movies

The Help

H bought me The Help by Kathryn Stockett for Christmas last year. I read it as fast as my schedule allowed and truly enjoyed it. I remember one nice evening around New Year’s at Cafe Ventana, a place I visit too rarely. The fireplace was roaring, and the pages flew by. The characters are endearing or irritating as they should be, and the story has a few good twists of adventure and mystery.

Besides the story itself, the context was especially important to me. I grew up in a similar place and social situation, but I was born nearly 15 years after the book’s setting and about 6 years after the author. I lived one of those relationships between child and domestic worker. Many aspects of that world were gone in the short years between its time and mine. In one way, the book was a prod to imagine how different my world had been not long before I entered it. It also reminded me of things that should have changed by my time, but had not.

Criticism was levied at the book for its use of dialect. To my well-trained ear, it was right on. The complaints are off the mark. The language is right. Criticism of giving Skeeter, the young white woman, such a prominent role could carry more weight. In many respects, she was not fit to be the leader of the movement in the book. It made a good story, though, so I do not fault that choice. Of course, the title is perfect.

I await the movie with anticipation. Journey to Justice, the Clarion-Ledger blog of three times blogged Jerry Mitchell, has this post that embedded this trailer from YouTube. I think it will be a hard story to get right. It is too easy to make it sappy and to ignore its themes of justice. It also is too easy to make it a story about good people and bad people with the subtlety bulldozed. Regardless of the early reviews, I will do my best to watch it soon after its release.

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Michael M. on June 19th 2011 in General, Movies

Super 8

H and I caught Super 8 at the St. Louis Cinemas Moolah. I thought it was great. I was inspired after hearing a story on NPR. I think it was this one.

The movie is a hodgepodge of The Goonies, E.T.: The ExtraTerrestrial, Stand by Me and various other moves of that era. Those movies were favorites of my childhood, and I think it is great to see a revival. All carried an underlying message that children can be insightful, resourceful and adventurous. It is filled with archetypical motherless children, subterranean voyages and heroic journey elements with the children cast as the heroes.

I do not want to reveal too much because I knew very little about the plot when I walked into the theather, and I enjoyed the plot twists. I have not been to the movies much lately, but it must be one of the best ones of the summer.

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Michael M. on June 13th 2011 in General, Movies

True Grit

H pointed me to “One-Eyed Gods and One-Armed Gods: Does True Grit tap into an ancient myth?” in Slate. In turn, it led to “True Grit, Odd Wit: And Fame? No, Thanks” in The New York Times about the somewhat reclusive author. Both were good reading after watching True Grit. H and I saw it around Christmas.

H and I saw the movie at Christmas. It was great. When Mattie Ross rode her horse Little Blackie across a river, I was hooked. It has adventure and heroism. It is a play of morality and vice. The visuals of galloping horses and big landscapes are gripping. If the first article above is to be believed, it also taps into old stories.

We happened to catch the end of the 1969 True Grit on television not too long after seeing this new version. I enjoyed it, too, but not as much as the newer version. Watching both did make me reluctant to call this newer movie a remake. It is more another telling of the same story.

I have little to add to all the writing done about this movie. I enjoyed it so much, though, that I did not want it to go unmentioned here.

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Michael M. on April 9th 2011 in General, Movies

Pixies documentary

Not too long ago on Facebook, a friend posted the link to the documentary loudQUIETloud on Hulu. It is about the reunion tour of the favorite Pixies. I went to the tour date at Mizzou in 2004 the month before I started this blog, and I mentioned it in this very early post. It was memorable. At the time, I had little idea of the story behind the tour. At least a couple of band members had fallen on hard times, and the tour involved a lot of tumult. I watched the documentary and really enjoyed it.

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Michael M. on December 15th 2010 in General, Live, Movies, Music

American Streetballers

I watched American Streetballers over a couple of nights. It tells the story of two Saint Louisans, one African-American players from the northside and one Irish-American from Dogtown. They meet as junior college players at Saint Louis Community College Forest Park. Everybody who has spent some time in Saint Louis should see it. I got a lot out of recognizing the familiar scenes. The movie’s plot is predictable in some ways, but completely enjoyable.

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Michael M. on October 22nd 2010 in General, Movies

Inception

I watched Inception with H at the Hi-Pointe. I was able to suspend my disbelief about the premise, shared dreaming, and enjoy it. It features adventure. The plot has many threads, each with many turns. I think it will remain a popular favorite of science fiction fantasy adventure for a long time.

Much of the subsequent discussion surrounding the movie bothers me, though, because I cannot suspend my disbelief enough to take it that seriously. Shared dreaming is not possible. Even as our ability to monitor brain activity is growing, there is currently little possibility of manipulating it outside the usual channels of our senses.

These questions can serve a good purpose. A terrific moment for teaching about the brain occurs when someone asks the question of whether it is possible. We live in exciting times when our ability to investigate perception, thought, dreaming and other brain activities is blossoming. That excitement deserves attention, and this movie is stirring it.

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Michael M. on August 8th 2010 in General, Movies

Winter’s Bone

I saw the movie Winter’s Bone with H at the Landmark Plaza Frontenac. It is the bleak story of a young woman trying to save her family. It is set against in the rural Ozarks that have been devastated by methamphetamine. There is little joy in the story, but the heroine is compelling. Since we saw it, it has opened in more theaters locally, and I imagine elsewhere, too. It is worth seeing.

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Michael M. on July 18th 2010 in General, Movies

Exit Through the Gift Shop

H and I took in Exit Through the Gift Shop a while back at the Landmark Tivoli. I was moved and enjoyed it. It tells the story of Mr. Brainwash, a fellow who begins as an amateur filmmaker following street artists and then becomes a street artist himself. He makes big gambles on becoming an artist, and he makes it.

The question in the reviews is whether the story is real. It could be a fantasy from Banksy. I had read none of the controversy prior to seeing the movie, and I took it at face value. This New York Times review is one of many that addresses the doubt. Although I tend to be a stickler about urban legends and email forwards, I find the issue of veracity largely uninteresting in this case. Whatever the truth, the movie is a delight.

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Michael M. on June 28th 2010 in General, Movies

Avatar

I had heard about Avatar for weeks before going. Fortunately, it ran in theaters for months. H and I finally saw it at the Galleria 6 St. Louis Cinemas. The visual impact of the movie is terrific. The morality of the story rubbed some moviegoers the wrong way, especially because it alludes to the current situation in Iraq. It also alludes to every other people who inhabited a place with natural resources desirable to outsiders including the settlement of these United States.

I only wish I had realized that the 3D system uses circular polarization. I thought it used linear polarizers, but I got no effect by tilting my head. I should have flipped the left and right polarizers. I wonder what it would have looked like with the visual disparities reversed.

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Michael M. on June 3rd 2010 in General, Movies

Greenberg

I saw Noah Baumbach on this episode of Charlie Rose a couple of months ago. It confirmed the idea that I should see Greenberg. I had been worried that the movie would be too sad. I caught it at the St. Louis Cinemas Moolah with H.

The movie sees the title character return to Los Angeles, the place he had almost made great success before submarining his band’s debut. In the interim, he has wasted his life while remaining proud and insulting to more compromising people. While definitely a downer movie in multiple respects, Greenberg the character is a subject for empathy, judgment, contemplation and rejection. It made for a good mix.

Looking through the credits, I noticed that Emily Lacy, recently blogged, made a brief appearance. What a fun coincidence!

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Michael M. on June 3rd 2010 in General, Movies

Up in the Air

For Christmas movie day, I saw Up in the Air with H at the St. Louis Cinemas Moolah. It is no longer news at this point, but I did enjoy it. For scenes of people getting fired, the filmmakers had open calls for recently fired employees to act out what they said or what they wish they had said. They were excellent. The scenes of Saint Louis were the other best element. Lambert Airport looks terrific. It is a shame that it is underused enough to support the filming without much interruption of normal activity. Other treats were the Cheshire Lodge and Maplewood United Methodist Church. I drive past the church often, and I remember when the lawn was covered in white sheets for filming a winter scene. I should look for other movies filmed here.

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Michael M. on February 20th 2010 in General, Movies

The Blind Side

I saw The Blind Side several weeks back at the Chase Park Plaza Cinemas. I blogged two times about Michael Oher several years ago. The movie is about Ole Miss sports legends, and I had to see it. It delivered. The movie is touching and enjoyable. It has little bits of lots of things including sports, humor, sentiment, charity and religion. I have read many articles about the movie. Most recently, I enjoyed this Los Angeles Times one about the movie’s making.

As blogged before, I have known about Sean Tuohy for a long time. I remember him from listening to Ole Miss basketball games on the radio. I found this box score for the game I mentioned previously. My parents made me go to bed because I had kindergarten the next day, but they let me listen to the end of the game on the radio while I was in bed. Sean Tuohy got hit between the eyes by the ball late in the game. He was a tough player, though, and he managed to go on.

I wanted to watch the 20/20 episode about the movie, but I missed it due to work. Since then, I found it on the web. As with the movie, it is a little on the sweet side. It is hard to dismiss for the same reason. It really happened.

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Michael M. on January 19th 2010 in General, Movies

Nobody’s Business

Several years ago, Justin Branum of Swing DeVille taught me “Alabama Jubilee” on fiddle at the beloved Folk School. I liked it enough to devise a guitar arrangement. Then I found that it had been popular on guitar for a long time. I discovered this version on YouTube by Jerry Reed. If you are like me, Jerry Reed looks familiar because he was in Smokey and the Bandit and he performed the hit from the movie “East Bound and Down.”

Because I watched several Jerry Reed videos, YouTube recommended this video of  “Nobody’s Business.” As a fan of Mississippi John Hurt, I recognized its similarity to “It Ain’t Nobody’s Business” / “Nobody’s Business” / “Nobody’s Business But My Own” / “Nobody’s Dirty Business.” Blogged Frank Stokes recorded a very similar “‘Tain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do.”

Irving Thomas is credited with writing it in several places, including this page. The problem is that he was born in 1914, and MJH recorded it in 1928 or so. Blogged Taj Mahal is listed as a performer of it. He released it on Satisfied ‘N Tickled Too, an album titled after a Mississippi John Hurt song. These things are tangled.

This thread on Mudcat credits Porter Grainger and Everett Robbins, and lyrics are here with the date 1922. That version seems to be the one Bessie Smith recorded at “‘Tain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do.” It is a somewhat different tune.

I cannot tell whether there was a single common source of all these tunes. Perhaps the phrase was just popular. However it happened, similar songs found their ways into quite a few genres and generations.

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Michael M. on January 19th 2010 in General, Movies, Music, Recorded

Mississippi Smoldering

Mississippi Burning made waves years ago. Subsequently, the prosecution of Byron De La Beckwith, Medgar Evers‘ assassin, inspired Ghosts of Mississippi. Numerous other crimes never received as much attention. As blogged earlier this year, Jerry Mitchell won a MacArthur Genius Grant for his reporting on unsolved crimes. Civil Rights Cold Case Trailer posted on Hungry Blues revisits other cases. The Civil Rights Cold Case Project aims to facilitate some long denied justice.

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Michael M. on December 26th 2009 in General, Movies

MCB and Oxpatch

As previously posted, I rode the train home last week. After deboarding, I visited the McComb Railroad Museum. I happened on the special exhibit Journey Stories, put on in conjunction with the Smithsonian, by my good luck. The local Enterprise-Journal had this article about the project. The next day, we headed for Oxford.

This post on Highway 61 Radio alerted me to the most recent edition of Thacker Mountain Radio. It featured three times blogged William Ferris discussing his new book, Give My Poor Hear Ease. I heard about it earlier in this interview on NPR‘s All Things Considered. Off Square Books, which hosts the show, was overflowing. I had to stand on the sidewalk for a while where I ran into the proprietor of blog NMissCommentor.

While I had Ferris sign my book, I said that I had seen him years ago in McComb at a senior apartment complex. I think I was home from college at the time. I probably was the youngest person there by half. Ferris brought up blogged Bo Diddley, and I happily recollected his visit to my chorus class in seventh grade. I look forward to leafing through my copy.

Ferris previously used Give My Poor Heart Ease as the title of this documentary movie from the 1970s. It is available on FolkStreams. This story covered the FolkStreams project on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday a few years ago. I twice blogged about other Ferris documentaries.

Thacker Mountain also featured musical performances. A young fellow from North Carolina played “Talking World War III Blues” and “Ballad of a Thin Man.” Bill Ellison and Temperance Babcock played bluegrass. Jim Jimbo Mathus played his music.

Ellison has hosted Grassroots, a bluegrass show on Mississippi Public Broadcasting, for many years. It comes on just before Highway 61, whose blog started this post. Ferris used to host Highway 61. I spent quite a few Saturdays listening to the two shows.

Several other events, including the game, rounded out the weekend. The night after, I ate with my family and H and Taylor Grocery. We went out to Rowan Oak. I tried to go to Thacker Mountain with H. The land was posted, and we were not up for trespassing at the time. We then visited the University of Mississippi Museum. The Millington-Barnard Collection of scientific demonstrations and instruments and the David M. Robinson Memorial Collection of Greek and Roman antiquities were my favorites. I had intended to visit for years, and my parents had intended to go for years before me. I am happy to have finally made it. On the way back, H and I visited the National Civil Rights Museum and Lambert’s Cafe. We returned to Saint Louis full and tired.

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Michael M. on November 10th 2009 in General, Live, Movies, Music

Zombieland

I caught a Galleria 6 St. Louis Cinemas showing of Zombieland with H.

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Michael M. on October 12th 2009 in General, Movies

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States.