wind2

I recently watched this very good documentary on Orson Welles and Citizen Kane (see below) that includes interviews with Welles from BBC interviews in 1960 and 1982 and an interview with Pauline Kael discussing her controversial “Raising Kane” article.

Whenever I showed Kane in my film class, I was careful to introduce it with minimal information and careful to never say that it is considered by many to be the best film ever made. Francois Truffaut said that it is “probably the one that has started the largest number of filmmakers on their careers” although that probably isn’t true for the current graduating class of filmmakers.

More recently, there have been reports that Welle’s unfinished final film, The Other Side of the Wind, may finally be completed and shown by 2015. The New York Times reported that the production company Royal Road Entertainment made a deal for the rights to the movie and set as screening date of May 6, 2015, which would have been Welles’ 100th birthday.

Welles spent parts of the last 15 years of his life working on the movie. It stars John Huston and features Peter Bogdanovich, Susan Strasberg, Lilli Palmer and Dennis Hopper. Huston plays a veteran director who is trying to make a comeback.

The story has been floating around for many years that the genesis of the leading character was an encounter in 1937 between Ernest Hemingway and a young Welles. Hemingway, a bit drunk, mocked Welles as being an “effeminate boy of the theater.” Welles shot back something, Hemingway threw a chair, they scuffled and in true Hemingway-encounter form they settled things with a boozy toast and then had on-again, off-again friendship.

Plot summaries have been online for years and so are clips from the film. It was shot on and off as Welles had money and he used certain props and motifs to tie together the disparate parts. The film’s structure centers on the 70th birthday party of the movie director Jake Hannaford (Huston), but opens with his death just after the party.

Welles included film-within-a-film portions of Hannaford’s film, The Other Side of the Wind.

It is set in the 1970s and mocks the Hollywood that is post-studio system, and the experimental New Hollywood and some European directors.

Partially as a style and partially due to varying budgets, Welles shot in color, black-and-white, used still photography, 8mm, 16mm and 35mm film. He was getting money by doing television roles and by getting individual investors.

Welles left a rough 45-minute edited work print that he had to smuggle out of Paris in 1975 after an irate investor had taken control of the negatives.

Actor/critic turned director Peter Bogdanovich is one of those who have tried to finish the movie. Now, Frank Marshall, a line producer on The Other Side of the Wind, and Bogdanovich plan to put the film together using Welles’ notes.

Welles,

Huston, Welles and Bogdanovich

From the reports out there and the clips that have leaked out over the years, the film sounds like a fragmented series of sections that would be difficult to patch together. But Welles fans, and I count myself in the group, are hopeful that it can be edited it into a coherent last effort from Orson Welles.


Oja Kodar presents Orson Welles’ unseen footage for unreleased projects including The Other Side of the Wind

 


The Complete Citizen Kane – a documentary

Creation_of_Adam_Sistine_Chapel

click image for larger view

I was lying on the couch reading on my tablet on All Saints’ Day earlier this month and I read an almanac post saying that it was the day chosen by Pope Julius II back in 1512 to display Michelangelo’s paintings on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel for the first time. I thought “That’s a good topic for a post on Weekends in Paradelle.

I did a bit of checking on defining All Saints’ Day (AKA also known as All Hallows, Feast of All Saints, Hallowmas) which is celebrated on November first by the Catholic Church and some Protestant denominations in honor of all the saints, known and unknown.

I looked up Michelangelo Buonarroti because I recall hearing or reading somewhere that the story of him lying on his back to paint is largely a fictional creation. In this case, from the Hollywood version of history in the The Agony and the Ecstasy. I never read the the best-selling biographical novel of Michelangelo by Irving Stone and it may have come from there before the film. I watched the film as a kid and was very impressed by the story of  those four years he spent completing the paintings that decorate the ceiling of the chapel.

But the other part of this post is that in starting to write this, WordPress reminded me when I created a link that I had already written about this last year! That’s disturbing to me.

These gaps in my memory are increasing lately. I wrote a poem on my daily poem site this past week and realized later that I had used the same title and a very similar experience for an earlier poem this year. Later, I discovered an even earlier version of the idea in a notebook from 6 years ago.

I did do some more research this time around on Michelangelo, and the memory of the film is new, so I can craft this post as being something different.

Michelangelo was 33 years old when he tried to point out to the pope that he was a sculptor, and not really a painter. Two of his best-known works, the Pietà and David, were sculpted before he turned thirty. The pope paid no attention and in the end art historians say that you can see his skills as a sculptor used to make the two-dimensional ceiling look like more a series of three-dimensional scenes. It was a technique that was relatively new at the time.

He worked on it from 1508 to 1512. He did work from a scaffold 60 feet above the floor, but spent much of that time standing. He covered about 10,000 square feet of surface. Every day, fresh plaster was laid over a part of the ceiling and Michelangelo had to finish painting before the plaster dried.

The German writer Wolfgang von Goethe wrote, “We cannot know what a human being can achieve until we have seen [the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel].”

Sistine-Chapel-ceiling

A fuller view of the ceiling.
Click image for larger view because small views don’t do it justice.

The paintings are of scenes from the Old Testament, but many people only know the famous center section, “The Creation of Adam.” The chapel itself was built about 25 years earlier, and various Renaissance painters were commissioned to paint frescoes on the walls.

My aging memory and its lapses made me read more about the later years of Michelangelo’s life.  It was news to me that he turned to writing poetry.

His sexuality is somewhat in question but it seems that he would be described today as bi-sexual. His sexuality is apparent in his poetry.  He wrote over three hundred sonnets and madrigals. The longest sequence were written to Tommaso dei Cavalieri. He met Tommasso when he was 57 and Tommasso was 23 years old. Historians also point to his last sculptures as evidence of a focus during these later years on both the male figure and on the contrast of old age and youth.

The Tommasso sequence is the first large sequence of poems in any modern tongue addressed by one man to another. It’s a bit surprising to me to realize that Shakespeare’s sonnets to the “fair youth” were written only 50 years after Michelangelo’s sonnets.

This led me to find a copy of  The Complete Poems of Michelangelo at the library.

In a poem to Cavalieri, he writes:

Nay, things that suffer death, quench not the fire
Of deathless spirits; nor eternity
Serves sordid Time, that withers all things rare.

And Cavalieri replied in a letter: “I swear to return your love. Never have I loved a man more than I love you, never have I wished for a friendship more than I wish for yours.”

Cavalieri remained devoted to Michelangelo until his death.

His homoerotic poetry was something that later generations were uncomfortable with and it never really came into popular books and films about his life.  Michelangelo’s grandnephew, Michelangelo the Younger, published the poems in 1623 with the gender of pronouns changed to be feminine. The gender was restored to male in John Addington Symonds’ translation into English in 1893.  in 1547. Scholars still dispute whether this was a homosexual or paternal relationship with Tommasso.

Late in life, Michelangelo nurtured a great love for the poet and noble widow Vittoria Colonna, whom he met in Rome in 1536 or 1538 and who was in her late forties at the time. They wrote sonnets for each other and their friendship remained important to Michelangelo until her death.

Following a brief illness, Michelangelo died on February 18, 1564—just weeks before his 89th birthday—at his home in Rome. A nephew bore his body back to Florence, where he was revered by the public as the “father and master of all the arts,” and was laid to rest at the Basilica di Santa Croce—his chosen place of burial.

ON THE BRINK OF DEATH
Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564)

Now hath my life across a stormy sea
Like a frail bark reached that wide port where all
Are bidden, ere the final reckoning fall
Of good and evil for eternity.
Now know I well how that fond phantasy
Which made my soul the worshiper and thrall
Of earthly art, is vain; how criminal
Is that which all men seek unwillingly.
Those amorous thoughts which were so lightly dressed,
What are they when the double death is nigh?
The one I know for sure, the other dread.
Painting nor sculpture now can lull to rest
My soul that turns to His great love on high,
Whose arms to clasp us on the cross were spread.

The Statue of David, completed by Michelangelo in 1504, is one of the most renowned works of the Renaissance.

I didn’t make it to the NCTE Annual Convention for English teachers this year, but I see that Cory Doctorow is one of their speakers.

Doctorow is a science fiction novelist, blogger, and technology activist. He is co-editor of the popular site Boing Boing and a contributor to The Guardian, The New York Times, Publishers Weekly, Wired.

He was formerly director of European affairs for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties group that works to keep cyberspace free and defends freedom in technology law, policy, standards, and treaties.

One of his novels that is popular with young adult readers is one you can download a free copy of  – Little Brother . It may surprise you that an author would give away his book, but Cory Doctorow explains:

These downloads are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike license, which lets you share it, remix it, and share your remixes, provided that you do so on a noncommercial basis. Some people don’t understand why I do this — so check out this post if you want my topline explanation for why I do this crazy thing.

These official downloads come in several formats like plain text, HTML, a PDF version and ones for your eReader along with the ones fans have also made available.  Cory has also posted an explanation of all the legal stuff you can do with the book – and what the limits are too.

And, how’s this for radical, you can actually buy the book printed on real paper too. Despite all these giveaways, when the book was released it made the NY Times best-seller list.

And what is the book about?  Marcus, a.k.a “w1n5t0n,” is 17 and figures he knows how the system works and how to work the system. He understands our networked world and has no problem hacking into his high school’s weak surveillance systems.

Add to this setting the conflict of he and his friends getting caught up in the aftermath of a major terrorist attack on San Francisco. They get picked up by the Department of Homeland Security, taken to a secret prison, interrogated and when they are released he finds his city has become a police state. What to do… take down the DHS himself.

It’s the kind of rebellion with a contemporary edge that kids should get into – maybe even adults. I could see pairing this with a reading of Orwell’s 1984.

Hecate

One of many Hecate items on etsy.com

November 16 is the Night of Hecate which begins at sunset. Hecate is the Greek goddess of the three paths, guardian of the household, protector of everything newly born, and the goddess of witchcraft.

She was once a widely revered and influential goddess, but through popular culture, her reputation and story have been twisted. She is now commonly shown as a “hag” or old witch stirring a cauldron.

This night was a celebration of the Three-formed Goddess. Hecate is part of the most ancient form of the triple Moon goddess as Crone or Dark Moon and it occurs near or on a Full Moon.

She was said to walk the roads at night, visiting cemeteries during the dark phase of the moon. She was described as shining, luminous and sometimes as invisible, seen only as a light or “will-o-the-wisp.”

A will-o’-the-wisp (ignis fatuus in Medieval Latin for  “foolish fire”) are atmospheric “ghost lights” seen by travelers at night. Often seen over bogs, swamps or marshes, they resemble a flickering lamp. Legend has it that they recede if approached and thereby lure the traveler  from the safe path.

This phenomenon is known by a variety of names, including jack-o’-lantern, hinkypunk, and hobby lantern in English folk belief.

The term “will-o’-the-wisp” comes from “wisp”, a bundle of sticks or paper sometimes used as a torch, and the name “Will.” Attaching a man’s name to these folk beliefs was fairly common – such as jack-o’-lantern for “Jack of [the] lantern.”

In the United States, they are often called “spook-lights”, “ghost-lights”, or “orbs” and are written about by both folklorists and paranormal enthusiasts.

It was said that this night was when Hecate’s supper at the Crossroads took place. People who worshiped Hecate honored her by performing sympathetic Magick and they would hold a supper at what they believed to be the Crossroads. It was much later that American blues songs began to use the Crossroads as a meeting place with the Devil.

Hecate’s original mythology portrayed her not as an old hag, but as a beautiful and powerful goddess. She was the only one of the ancient Titans who Zeus allowed to retain their authority once the Olympians seized control.

Zeus shared with Hecate, and only her, the power of giving humanity anything she wished, or withholding it if she pleased.

A lover of solitude, Hecate was a “virgin” goddess, unwilling to give up her freedom for marriage.

Hecate was usually depicted with her sacred dogs which were said to have three heads to see in all directions – including the past, present, and future. In the myth of the abduction of Persephone, Hecate saw and told Demeter what had become of her daughter.

Sometimes nicknamed the “Queen of the Night,” and walking with “ghosts” and other social outcasts, she was often accompanied on her travels by an owl, a symbol of wisdom. Though not a goddess of traditional wisdom, she was thought to have a special type of knowledge. In modern times, she has been made the goddess of trivia – something I fear has made her angry.

She could help the elderly make the transition into the next life in the way that a hospice nurse might today.

If you are out and about tonight, let us know if you see any ghost lights, will-o-the-wisps, three-headed dogs, or any strange doings at a place where three roads converged (what we often call a “Y-intersection” these days). Hecate will do you no harm.

MORE
a scientific explanation of the will-o-the-wisp
more on the Night of Hecate and her mythology

Jupiter, king of gods and weather god in ancient Rome

Jupiter, king of gods and weather god in ancient Rome

It’s only the first week of November, but there is lots of talk in the media about winter and plenty of signs of it in stores. Plus, on the East Coast, we have already had two record-breaking snowstorms. Southern we-don’t-get-snow Columbia, South Carolina got an inch of snow, which doesn’t significant, but it beat out Boston and New York City.

Winter is always weird whether it is unusually warm or cold.  I realized in saving a draft of this post that I have already written 4 articles on the coming winter.  I wrote about winter during the summer when I noticed how many hits old posts about the weather lore that predicts winter were getting.

I wrote about the summer indicators that supposedly tell us what to expect in the coming winter.

I also wrote about checking the wooly bear caterpillars for winter prognostications.

More recently, I zoomed in on the October nature signs that are supposed to predict the coming winter. We had a pretty good amount rainfall, so that should mean a windy December. It was also fairly warm, which should mean a cold February. We had an October Full Moon without frost here in Paradelle which meant no frost until  after November’s Full Moon – and we got past that and my frost-sensitive plants are all still going in the garden.

Of course, all of this lore is pretty localized. I’m sure it was warm in South Carolina in October and they got their first snow last weekend. I don’t know any Carolina weather lore. The most general lore says that a warm fall predicts a cold winter.

More generally, weather lore tells us that thunder in the fall is supposed to foretell a cold winter ahead.

Weather lore is fun and the old tales are amusing, but believing it is a bit like believing in Zeus and Apollo. Now, I like my science and meteorology is a science, but those weather gods seem to be about as accurate on the long-range forecasts as the wooly bear caterpillars.

Seasonal climate models are made, but they get updated all the time (I suspect as they prove to be wrong. Weather gods like revisionist history.) The last winter weather model I saw was revised to show a much harsher winter ahead.

Like that butterfly effect I wrote about yesterday, events like the recent Super Typhoon Nuri and a Pacific cyclone, Hurricane Ana, was partly held responsible for the snows in South Carolina this past weekend.

Like our weather lore signs, scientists look for signs like the unseasonable Eurasian snow cover and the  “ridge bridge” pattern that lets that Arctic air head towards Paradelle and the East Coast all indicate cold times ahead for us.

All these signals point toward instability in a building dome of very cold air over the North Pole that could pour southward at any moment.

But winter here in the Northern Hemisphere is summer down and this recent East Coast cold means abnormal warmth for the West. That general pattern has been true for more than a year and gets the blame for the California droughts.

And, yes, climatologists keep publishing more research that says the pattern was at least three times more likely to form because of a warming planet. The Pacific Ocean, just off the West Coast, is the warmest it has been in decades. Argue amongst yourselves on that one.

I don’t think you should bother God with requests for better weather, but the other weather gods (deities in mythology associated with weather phenomena such as thunder, lightning, rain and wind) might have the time to listen.

Leaves are hanging on this autumn here and that should indicate a severe winter. Were squirrels gathering nuts in a mad rush and having very bushy tails? That means a tough winter to come. But as far as I can tell those squirrels are always in a mad rush and always have bushy tails. I guess that means we will always have winter. I can guarantee that prediction.

In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is about how a small change in one part of system can result in large differences in another part. Chaos theory came from an MIT meteorologist, Edward Lorenz. He discovered that natural systems, like weather, are governed by this butterfly effect.

The explanation may seem farfetched.  Lorenz’s metaphorical example was that a hurricane’s exact time of formation and its exact path taken  could be influenced by minor perturbations such as the flapping of the wings of a distant butterfly several weeks earlier. Lorenz discovered the effect when he observed that runs of his weather model  with a very small change in initial conditions had created a significantly different outcome.

According to the National Weather Service, the remnants of the Pacific cyclone, Hurricane Ana, was partly responsible for the snows in South Carolina this past weekend. A cyclone is a lot more powerful than a butterfly.

Yesterday, the news was reporting that the polar vortex will be dropping its cold weather on much of the United States this week as a result of Typhoon Nuri moving northward in the Pacific Ocean. One of the strongest storms on Earth in 2014, Super Typhoon Nuri, morphed into a Bering Sea extratropical cyclone.

Last winter was the snowiest and sixth-coldest on record. The National Weather Service’s winter outlook predicts this winter’s weather closer to normal, with perhaps slightly colder-than-normal temperatures in early 2015.

The butterfly effect is also exhibited by very simple systems, like the outcomes of throwing dice. Small differences like the direction, thrust, and orientation of the throw make significantly different dice paths and outcomes.

Very small examples of the butterfly effect are found in studies of quantum systems.  Albert Einstein said that “God does not play dice with the universe.”  Another physicist, Joseph Ford, said “God plays dice with the universe, but they’re loaded dice. And the main objective is to find out by what rules were they loaded and how can we use them for our own ends.”

butterfly1

The film called The Butterfly Effect compared the flutter of a butterfly and the flutter of the human heart. I was more interested in the film’s protagonist being able to travel back in time when he reads from the journals he kept as a teen.

Time travel is one of the things that might illustrate a butterfly effect. You go back. You make a very minor change and there are larger consequences from it in the present.

I think I see the effect more evident in retrospect in small things in my life, like missing a phone call and it setting off a chaotic chain reaction.

Greek myths said the creation of our world came out of chaos, is surrounded by chaos, and will end in chaos.

Not all chaos is bad. Some experiments have shown that you have better recall when you learn something randomly rather than in a more orderly fashion. Other researchers have shown that your thinking becomes most productive when your brain waves appear most chaotic.

You read this article. I wonder what will happen because of that?

 

The Taurids are an annual meteor shower associated with the comet Encke. They are named after their radiant point in the constellation Taurus, where they are seen to come from in the sky.  Encke and the Taurids are believed to be remnants of a much larger comet, which has disintegrated over the past 20,000 to 30,000 years, breaking into several pieces.

Because of their occurrence in late October and early November, they are also called “Halloween fireballs.”

They are rather slow-moving (from our perspective) and so often make a good show. They usually peak from November 5-12. This year our Full Moon (on the 6th) coincides and will wash out the sky with light.

You might spot a few of the brightest meteors tonight but, as the moon sets later in the evening after the Full Moon, visibility will gradually improve. Moonrise on the 6th was around 5 p.m. ET and each night after the moon will rise about 50 minutes later. That means the dark-sky hours before moonrise increases.

It looks like if you check the sky on the 12th (Wednesday) when the Moon will be close to its last-quarter phase, it will rise at around 10 p.m. giving you about four hours of dark, moonless skies.

If you want to check what to look for tonight (or any night), check out earthsky.org/tonight/

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