Archive for History

The Month for Horror Movies

Posted in Movies, Movies and Theatre, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 5, 2016 by urbannight
give-me-what-i-want

Storm of the Century

It is that time of year again.  I love Halloween.  I also like horror movies and I am strangely picky in some ways while being relaxed in other areas.  I read some movie blogs and sometimes post my own movie reviews and mine are not as pretty as others nor do I have a systematic format that I use.  Maybe I should think about that some day.  Not today.

The first movie I watched this October was Steven King’s Storm of the Century.  I bought it from one of those cheap movie bins for 3.75$.  It was a great find for 3.75$.  It was quite good.  I kept asking myself how I managed to miss this in 1999 and how come I never saw it since.

Tim Daly did a great job as a constable of a tiny town.  The town being so small that the town manager and equivalent of sheriff/chief of police actually don’t have enough official work to pay them full time that they have to have full time day jobs as well is kind of amusing.  Since the constable also owns the grocery, it is mighty handy that the ‘jail’ is in back of it with a joining door.  What would happen if the constable wasn’t the owner of the store as well?  Or am I the only one who thinks of these things?  And maybe I missed it but the constable was really handy with the Bible quotes and I never figured out why.

Colm Feore was really creepy as the villain.  They managed to do a great deal with minimal makeup.  Occasionally his eyes went solid black.  The animal-like teeth are particularily effective.  It wasn’t the normal vampire type monster teeth. It is what a human mouth might look like if dog teeth were set in a human jaw.  The weird steel-like coloring made it more disturbing.  The make-up to make him look ancient was pretty good.  But he was more scary with his normal looks since he had such a smooth face and even complexion.  The only thing that was odd was that it is suggested that he was ‘Legion’ from the Bible but Legion was a whole collection of demons as the man who was possessed was possessed by more than one.  Yet Feore’s character seemed to be one being that was once human and that he was a representation of something that was passed down from one person to another since the earliest times of mankind.  But he is never clearly explained.  The ‘Legion’ explanation was weak in my opinion.

The town manager really annoys me the most.  He acts like he owns the town rather than being an elected official.  He acts like he owns the town and that his word is law and that he owns the people in charge of the actual law.  The pissed me off and I thought he was the least believable character in the entire film.

The rest of the story is good, although character development is weak.  I understand that by taking so long to finally tell the people what he wants all the while scaring people by telling their secrets and controlling people to cause them to kill themselves or others helps whip the town into a fearful frenzy, I found it still unbelievable that they would agree so easily to just hand over a child.  This was the least believable part of the film.  But the aftermath voice over that tells what happens in the years after is what really makes this film.  After spending three nights with these characters and having the time between episodes to think about things, that follow up at the end of the film is perhaps the most important part.  We see some of the real fallout of the towns actions.  And I did watch it in three spaced out sessions rather than in one sitting.  More by accident that a deliberate plan.

I will watch this again.  It was good and enjoyable.  Very few horror films enter the realm of ‘great’.  So I never expect that level out of any horror movie.

 

 

 

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Railroad barons, Robber barons, and the Mafia…

Posted in Economics, Economy, Politics, Work, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 6, 2016 by urbannight

This started out as a Facebook comment that turned intoOld Monopoly a much longer post.  It is something I’ve kept meaning to write more about but for which I never get around to doing the in depth research.  Partly because I am not an economist or interested in economy.  I am interested in history and this is something I’ve been putting together in my head based on viewing of a number of documentaries and articles and books that were not specifically about the economy.  But the past decade or so has had me pulling these threads together into this concept that I think has a valid point.

In the fight to change minimum wage into people being able to earn a living wage if they work full time may be easier to understand if one understands that our modern economic system was developed by the same people who create the ‘trunk’ system of work compensation. Once upon a time, these people were called ‘Railroad Barons’. Not because their work on the railroads made them rich but because they way they made money made people think of the old ‘robber baron’s’ back in the Old Country. These were people with titles who took to robbing travelers and merchants crossing their lands in order to have an income.

Railroad Barons as a term came about because most of these people were in the business of building railroads.  But it included others that were not but practiced business in the same manner.  These were the people who came up with the idea of creating towns at their factories or operations and paying people in company script that had no value outside the company town. Then getting the families in debt to the company so they would never be able to leave their jobs and move away.

The government determined this was simply a way to try to legally enslave people and made company script illegal. Wages must be paid in legal tender.  The government seemed to be less concerned with the payment itself and more concerned with the fact that it limited mobility, trapping people.  They probably could have paid the employees anything so long as it would have been considered to have an equal, legal value, anywhere they wanted to take it so it could be used and spent in other places.  They could have been paid in pocket watches because they could be sold and traded for a relatively constant value.  Well, at least until the market got flooded with pocket watches.  But it gets the idea across.  These company scrip were bit of paper that held NO value once outside of the company town.

But in response to the Great Depression, these people changed the perception of their characters. They became known as captains of industry. They were praised for attempting to put some kind of organization and structure onto the economy. We called it capitalism and made a board game praising the concepts of making as much money possible off of others while trying to compensate them with the least amount possible without getting in trouble with the law.

Another reason that people don’t really realize that the Mafia came really close to taking control of the government back in the day is the reason that so many people were willing to work for the Mafia and to protect them. It wasn’t because they were family members. It wasn’t because these were people with natural criminal inclination. It was because, back at this time period, the Mafia in the U.S. took better care of its workers and their families than any other employer did. Older kids and young men took jobs doing stuff for the mob because the work was more likely to be steady, reliable, and better compensated and their families were looked after better than any other job in the cities they could have found, for the most part. Which may be a really sad thing to say.

Our entire economy was solidified and fine tuned by people so questionable that they made the Mafia look good. Think about it. This is the Free Trade Capitalism that so many people say is the best method of Economy.  It is a method that says anyone can get rich if they work hard enough.  This ignores the fact that unless there is an unlimited source of money, it is blatantly not true.  Given a finite source of wealth in the world, that means only so many people can get rich while most people never will, no matter how hard they work.  Free Trade Capitalism is best for funneling the most money into the fewest pockets.

I’m not saying that people should run out and become the exact opposite.  That isn’t any better.  What I’m saying is that our system isn’t all that and a bag of chips and the very roots of that system is why a living wage is anathema to what most people have been taught.

Obscure event on November 2nd in History

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , on November 2, 2014 by urbannight

619 A qaghan of the Western Turkic Khaganate is assassinated in a Chinese palace by Eastern Turkic Rivals after the approval of Tang emperor Gaozu.

Wow, what is a qaghan? I looked it up and can’t find a straight definition. It appears to be a group or gathering of some sort. It also seems to have a few possible spellings. But I find it interesting that it appears one group of turks killed another group of turks at a Chinese location over something to do with a Chinese emperor. Oddly enough, he was known for being able to deal with the Gokturks and he only served as Emperor for 8 years, after which he retired and passed on the throne to someone else. Mostly because he was afraid of being murdered himself.

Although retired, he seemed to have retained the title and still performed political functions. In an attempt to learn about this event, I’ve mostly learned that Chinese history is much confused by the fact that the participants seem to change their names when they have major changes in their lives.

He also started a dynasty that lasted nearly 300 years, with a short break when the only Empress ever ruled china and significantly expanded its boarders. She was the concubine of one Tang emperor and became the First Wife/Empress of the next Tang Emperor. When he had a stroke she took over and ruled under her own name for a time. The only time it happened in 4,000 years. She must have been one impressive woman.

Apparently the turks were made of up smaller tribal units and the overall Turkish people split into two main divisions. The western group, that was assassinated, sought closer ties to Rome and the western world of the time. I’m guessing the eastern factions looked farther east, to China, for political connections.

For some reason, I can’t find much information on this particular meeting. Too bad. History can be very obscure sometimes.

Inspiring Blog Award

Posted in Art, Books, Entertainment, Food, History, Hobby, Life, Movies and Theatre, Photography, Science, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 3, 2012 by urbannight

Wonder

Hey, I got nominated this!  WOW.  I never thought of myself as inspiring.  The thanks for this nomination go to storiesbywilliams who has an amazing wealth of knowledge about science and science fiction that just puts me in awe.  The amount of research it must take, with the amount of writing and blogging he does, I don’t know how he finds the time to do things like work, eat, sleep, and generally live.  He always reminds me of things I’ve forgotten and challenges me with things I didn’t know.

Now is the part where I talk about myself.  Ouch.

1. Canon.  To the annoyance of some of my friends, I sometimes get a little too caught  up in the idea of ‘canon’ and get annoyed an non-cannon stuff in films based on books, comics, or older films.  I’m not good at pretending it is an alternate universe. I have no problem with suspension of disbelief until the universe contradicts itself.  Then it all comes crashing down on me.

2. Tea.  I drink a lot of it.  I am, at this moment, sipping on Pumpkin Spice Warm up the Day Tea from The Republic of Tea.

3. Cosplay.  My unit at work wanted to go a group costume idea for the Halloween contest.  But I didn’t care for the idea.  It wasn’t elaborate enough.  Over the past years, I’ve set an expectation of fairly elaborate costumes.  The Fairy Goth Mother, A Kabuki Ghost, Marie Laveau – Voodoo Queen of New Orleans.  I didn’t want to go dressed up as a computer, a headset, a mouse, a new loss form.  So I am doing my own thing.  Either a representation of The Raven or a Death Maiden.

4. Cooking.  I love to cook.  Lately, I haven’t been doing too much of it.  The budget has been tight, so elaborate dishes have gone by the way side for a while.  I really want to post some more cooking blogs, but I’m just not here with it right now.  Maybe after I meet a few other goals I’ll get back into it properly.

5. Temper.  I have one.  It doesn’t come out to play much.  But one morning, a person I actually value ticked me the hell off and I sorta unleashed.  He didn’t like it and deleted and blocked me on Facebook.  I’m a little sad but I admitted I over reacted.  I could admit that but he is the one who decided to take his ball home and not play with me anymore, to use a childhood metaphor.  It will probably take another 10 years to reconnect again.

6. Cats. I have two.  They are almost as anti-social as I am.  But the one likes to lay across my boobs when I’m working on the computer.  This requires me to use both arms to hold him so I can’t get anything done.  He had gotten me killed many times in online games.  Maybe I ought not to have named him Puck?

7. Tarot Cards.  I have a Tarot Card addition.  I love to accumulate them.  There are so many lovely sets out there.  So I stay away from places that sell them when I have no money.  I think I have about 8 sets right  now.  I just love seeing all the different interpretations of the cards that people draw.

Here is the part where I nominate a bunch of other people who inspire me.

1. Fogs’ Movie Reviews. This reviewer is one of my favorite all time movie reviewers.  We have a blend of similar and dissimilar tastes in films.  He reaffirms some of my thoughts on movies while also, occasionally, getting me to give something a try that I had planned on skipping.  Even when we disagree on a film, I can appreciate where he is coming from on his assessment of it.  My movie reviews are nowhere near as detailed and in-depth as his and me makes me realize how I could do so much better an makes me want to improve my style of reviewing.

2. Gin & Lemonade. This lady writes some of my favorite posts about everyday life.  She reminds me that nothing is to big or to small.  It all deserved to be valued and appreciated.  But perhaps the small things need it most of all.  Because the big things are all made of small things and we tend to ignore or brush aside the small things most often.

3. Kloipy Speaks.  This gentleman fluctuates between movies and life, much like I do.  His focus is a bit narrower and he comes across titles that I haven’t seen and really should.  Although I think our taste in horror is a little more divergent than, say my taste in movies when compared to Fogs.

4.  Madame Guillotine‘s amazing quality of research reminded me how much I used to like researching things.  (right after college, I continued to research stuff just for the fun of it.)  The really weird thing is that I want to write fiction and I keep getting really great ideas for non-fiction projects anymore.  She also posts about things she buys or her husband has given her that I drool over; weird and wonderful gothy sorts of things that the average person just doesn’t get or understand.

5. Meanwhile, back at the farm. . . .  This blogger is probably on with whom I have the least in common.  Her photography is wonderful.  Her blogs remind me of home despite the fact she is from the Dakota plains and I am from the mountains of North Idaho.  Her blogs often make me think of my father, who grew up on a farm in South Dakota.  She makes me miss my old camera that broke when it got caught in a door and hate my new camera which was the closest in comparison to my old one but simply fails at taking as good of shots at that one did.  Still, thanks to her, I’ve started carrying it with me at all times, like I used to do.

6. Rantings of an Amateur Chef is my favorite food blogger.  Not only does he post the most amazing things, his food has even gotten me to try food items I normally hate.  Oddly enough, I still hate them, but I keep on trying them.  He is better than a lot of the cooking shows out there.  I’ll take his blog, any day, over the food network.  Well, over anything except Without Reservation.  But that isn’t a cooking show so much and an interesting food and travel program.

7. Sweet Mother has to be the funniest blogger I’ve come across.  She cracks me up.  I appreciate this a lot because I just do not think I can do funny.  And we all really need a good laugh at least once a day.  More is preferable.  And she is guaranteed to produce at least one good laugh, if not more, out of nearly every posting she does.

 

Beyone the Pale

Posted in Entertainment, History, Language, Movies and Theatre, Photography, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 1, 2012 by urbannight

The town from Stardust. I blew it up bit and the ‘pale’ is not in the forground, but I thought I could make it out in the distance in the background. But that could be my imagination willing it to be there. It is difficult to see in the low light with the scrub in the background. Don’t mistake the yard walls with the pale wall.

A lot of people use the phrase, and use it correctly, without a full understanding of it. They basically know that it means to do something very bad.

The word ‘pale’ is from the Latin ‘palus’ which is a stake used to support a fence. The word expanded to include meaning a picket-style fence and extended to a boundary within which the local laws were valid.

A long time ago, the Pale was a low rock fence circling a town. But it also might be a ditch with ramparts built around it. Think of it as the city limits. These were not necessarily defensive structures but could be. Such as when it was a fortified ditch with ramparts built around it.

A palus fence, ie. a picket fence, a sharp wooden post was a ‘pale’ as in ‘impale’.

Now, if a person in a town did something that was so horrible as to get himself (or herself) kicked out of town and told not to come back – ever – it meant they couldn’t come inside the fence. So not only was the town proper off limits, but the area around the town too. When this happened, the person was considered as being “Beyond the Pale”.

A variation on this is when a ‘paling’ fence (a wood stake fence like a picket fence) would mark an area and certain people could only living in that area, such as Jews, which happened in certain areas of Russia. It still conveyed the same meaning. People who were considered unacceptable or unwanted were put on the other side. This was called a Pale of Settlement.

It was also used to identify the parts of Ireland which were under English control, The Pale.  So area’s England did not hold sway were ‘Beyond the Pale’ as well.

The Pale, the fence/wall around the town from the movie Stardust.

There is a movie that is a good example of the use of a ‘pale’ border for the purpose of identifying a legal area and the concept of that is on the other side is the ‘other’. It is a point where what is inside the pale is the acceptable world and what is beyond the pale is too different to be accepted.

That movie is Stardust.

A boy wants to impress a girl he likes and she seems to like him too. But at the same time, she can be mean and petty and she likes to pit him against the rich boy who clearly wants her. So they see a falling star and he promises to fetch the star and return it to her.

But the Star landed outside the Pale. So he has to go there to get it. In the process, he learns more about whom he is, rescues a princess who is living as a slave turned into a bird and happens to be his mother, meets a cross-dressing pirate, has encounters with evil women, and other adventures. It is really a classic coming of age story.

It also does a great job of showing how what is inside the pale is safe, structured, and provides order to the world and what is outside the pale can be wicked, dangerous, and adventurous.

But do you always want to be safe, take no risks, and give up part of your soul in the process or do you want to open your life up to the possibilities and freedoms you didn’t know existed?

And as I wrote that sentence I suddenly thought that people need to think about that question in relation to the personal freedoms they were willing to give up after 9/11 and decided if it is really better or if we want to start demanding the government value the individual citizen again and put a stop to some of the more invasive and totalitarian, freedom-violating, aspects of the Homeland Security Act.  It is a good question for life in general.

I scream, You scream, We all scream for Ice Cream!

Posted in Food with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 28, 2012 by urbannight

A few weeks back, The Bottom Line was all about the Banana Split.  It was invented back in 1904, 1906 and 1907.  Back when news didn’t travel around as fast, you could get these independent instances of unrelated invention and discovery.   It wouldn’t happen now, it would get spread as far and as fast as the internet could take it. 

The 1904 has been confirmed as the earliest know banana split.  It was created by David Evans Strickler, a 23-year-old apprentice pharmacist.  The treat did start to spread as he shared it at professional conventions for pharmacists. 

In 1906,  a Boston ice cream entrepreneur came up with the idea as well.  His didn’t work out so well at first.  He didn’t peal the banana before splitting it.  So people were trying to scrape banana out of the peal.  It fared better with men than with women.  Once he started to peal the banana first, it picked up with the women.

In 1907, a restaurant owner, Ernest Hazard, in yet another city and state ( Willmington, OH) was trying to come up with a desert to get the college students to come in more during the slower winter spell.  He held a contest but the employees didn’t come up with anything he liked.  So he came up with the banana split.  They hold a festival every summer to honor this even.  Despite the fact it was winter when it happened.  I’m thinking frozen treats just go over better in the hot summer months.

Today, The Bottom Line was all about ice cream again.  What I find somewhat amazing is that, once again, vanilla tops the chart as the number one favorite flavor.  If you based it on books, TV, movies, or people in general, it always seems like people want chocolate.  Chocolate comes in at second place, Strawberry is third, and Mint Chocolate Chip is fourth.  (that one is my favorite)

I wonder if there is a difference in Vanilla, Vanilla Bean, and French Vanilla.  I go through phases of each.  I suspect one reason this flavor comes out on top so often is that is has a simple, clean, crisp taste that is good on its own and is perfect for a base for other toppings.  Chocolate can hide or overwhelm some flavors of toppings and strawberry doesn’t taste good with all flavors. 

 

Personally, I would rather have sorbet.  I love the stuff.  Or soft-serve frozen yogurt, but you can’t find that much anymore.  For a while you could find a low-carb ice-cream.  That stuff was amazing.  It reminded why I used to like ice cream.  Today, they take too much fat out of it and replace it with too much sugar.  It isn’t the same ice cream as when I was little.  I just don’t usually feel like having ice cream anymore.  It isn’t at all satisfying.  Sorbet I can enjoy.  Frozen yogurt I can enjoy, especially Red Mango; the store not the flavor.  My favorite flavor there is summer melon, covered in strawberry and kiwi slices.

It’s still going to be hot for a while.  Maybe after payday, I’ll go to the only Red Mango shop that has the Summer Melon and treat myself to a dish of it.

Image of a Crow Indian as Inspiration

Posted in Art, Education, Life, Movies and Theatre, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 13, 2012 by urbannight

Johnny Depp and a Crow Indian

A lot of folks are criticizing Johnny Depp for his choice of costume in the upcoming Lone Ranger flick in 2013. Some say it looks like a Halloween costume, others say he is disrespecting N..A.s. He says the he has Creek or Crow ancestry and a lot of folks disbelieved that. And he ‘did’ say in an article about the movie that he wanted to portray, Tonto as more than just a sidekick to the Lone Ranger. So i did a little research on the makeup and costume and found this stunning portrait of a Crow warrior taken from an authentic photograph. So what is so disrespectful here?
By: Karen King

Note from me:

I found this on Facebook.  So I tried to find the source of that photo.  I haven’t yet, but I found others. I did find the above crow image for sale.  It appears to be a painting that was probably inspired by the 1908 Curtis photos.  I found a lot of more modern paintings that were clearly inspired by the photos.

Two Whistles, Crow Indian, Photo by Edward S Curtis around 1908.

This photo shows the white face paint and it looks like there might be black lines down the front. It is a bit hard to tell. He is wearing a hawk headdress made from the bird itself, not just the long feathers.

Medicine Crow, 1908 E.S. Curtis

Another very similar shot without the face paint. It is hard to tell if it is the same man or not. I am leaning towards that as the nose, lips and chin look the same.  The head is tilted farther back in one than in the other.

Crow Shawman, 1908, E.S. Curtis

I left the spelling the same as the photo was labeled. This headdress is made from an eagle. So far, based on a VERY small sampling, the full bird headdress seems indicative of medicine men.

If there was any real complaint, it shouldn’t have been the appearance of his costume, which my be more accurate than not, but rather that it should have been that they are depicting the Crow Indians from Montana rather than any of the nations of the North American Southwest.  Which, I think, would be more appropriate.

As a weird side note, I found some exaggerated art of the crow topknot they sometimes did. It looks strangely like Kia’s weirdly huge bun. If you watched Lexx, you know what I mean.