Archive for the Recommendations & Tributes Category

Pietro Mascagni – Opera Composer

Posted in Biographies, Memorials / Obituaries / Epitaphs, Recommendations & Tributes, Song Lyrics & Analysis, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on June 14, 2020 by Drogo

Pietro Mascagni the Italian composer was born in Leghorn, Italy. Pietro lived from 1863 to 1945. He studied in Leghorn and at the Milan Conservatory. In 1888 Mascagni entered a musical competition. Pietro presented his first one-act opera, ‘Cavelliers Rusticana’, and won first prize. Although he wrote many other operas, the other two most performed are ‘L’Amico Fritz’ (1891), and ‘Iris’ (1898). Not only did his other works lack the same enthusiasm, but they were pounded by critics. Mascagni suffered continual attacks from critics during his career, although he is one of the most famous composers. Mascagni and his beloved Italy fell under Fascist rule, duty bound to serve patriotically or be branded an enemy of the state.

 

The music of ‘Iris’ is the epitome of operatic atmosphere, as the dramatic sounds create emotional visuals. The last part of ‘Iris’ is perhaps the most sensual, as the dying body of the main character is dragged from the sewers and lies crippled; as slowly the magnificent Sun rises to meet and take her away from all this earthly suffering and discord. As the basses, violins, and horns combine to form emotional melodies; an undertone of raw passion and omnipotent renewal is created. Also the opera is filled with powerful, theatrical libretto (words). ‘Iris’ truly reflects the inspiration and cool flow of the Aesthetic movement.

 

When asked who were the greatest composers of all time, Mascagni replied “Wagner and I”, without hesitation. Pietro Mascagni was physically and socially impressive, and matched only by Toscanini on the podium. Operas flowed from Pietro’s pen, and he became the official composer for Fascist Italy. Mascagni had a fighting spirit, but became disgraced publicly by the critics; and was replaced by Giacomo Puccini. Looking back Mascagni said “It has been a bitter, relentless struggle; and I have surely not spared myself or succumbed to unworthy influences… I was not wanted; my best efforts were scorned; yet I went on writing for the sake of Italian opera, which is after all, one of the chief glories of our country”. Mascagni was a poetic nationalist to the end. Despite his critics, Mascagni is remembered as a sensitive artist, dramatic visionary, and musical poet.

Richard Wagner – Opera Composer

Posted in Memorials / Obituaries / Epitaphs, Recommendations & Tributes, Song Lyrics & Analysis, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on June 13, 2020 by Drogo

Richard Wagner was born in Leipzig, East Germany (a city of rich cultural influence), on May 22, 1813. His parents were officially Karl Friedrich and Johanna Wagner; although there was rumor that his real father was allegedly Ludwig Geyer (an intimate friend of the family). As a child Wagner attended the best schools, and showed extreme fondness of theater. Wagner was very interested in acting and stage performances. His mother, however, threatened to curse him if he tried to make a career on stage.

 

In time Wagner became one of the most famous composers of opera music. His musical sagas of spiritual, emotional, and moral power were fueled by his fierce urge to create. Wagner influenced philosophers, authors, actors, and musicians with his music. He even built his own theater, and founded the world’s oldest summer music festival. 

 

Wagner’s first opera was ‘The Fairies’, in German romantic style. From 1833 to 1839, Wagner worked as an opera conductor in a few German cities. Other early projects included: ‘The Ban On Love’, ‘Rienzi’, ‘The Flying Dutchman’, ‘Tannhauser’, and ‘Lohengrin’. Nietzsche was a huge fan of Wagner.

 

In 1849 due to his anger at the unjust treatment of musicians, and poor operation of the theaters, Wagner took part in a failed revolution (sparked by the French Revolution). A warrant was issued for his arrest, and he fled to Switzerland. Later Wagner lived in and out of Paris, France. From 1853 to 1874, Wagner developed the great ‘Ring Cycle’ of German folklore [Nibelung – ‘Ride of the Valkyries’] . His last work, ‘Parsifal’ was completed in 1882. Wagner died in 1883.

 

Wagner’s philosophy was to have various harmonious elements of musical composition in operas. Musical composition should have climaxes and goals, to move the audience. Although his work flowed with super-noble purpose, Wagner did not take many as many dramatic risks in his personal life. There is a distinction between Wagner the human, and his immortal compositions.

Architecture in ‘The Name of the Rose’

Posted in Film Reviews, Historic Architecture, Recommendations & Tributes with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 27, 2020 by Drogo

RWU History of Architecture II – Irene Fatsea 1995

Architecture in ‘The Name of the Rose’ Film

In the movie adaptation of Umberto Eco’s novel ‘The Name of the Rose’, architecture plays an important role for the medieval tone and setting. The film director, Annaud, made every scene intense with “visual overkill”. Five scenes show the importance of architecture in relation to the plot and characters.

In the opening scene two monks are riding towards the monastery. The monastery is positioned atop a steep hill, amid deep valleys and snow capped mountains. The impressive medieval stone fortress architecture is foreboding, as the dark mass over-looks the two small travelers on the narrow path leading into the complex. The hulking gate portcullis is drawn up, and the two Franciscan monks are greeted by disturbed and grotesque Benedictine monastic residents. The resident host monks exaggerate physical and mental characteristics which are considered social defects. The two visitors are now held within the cold imposing ‘sanctuary’ enclosure of massive walls and imposing battlements. Although they should feel secure, the unsettling harsh structure creates an angst-filled atmosphere of fear.

Unity is present in the choir scene. There is an orderly placement of seats in long rows, and the acoustics allow for blissful escape from more mundane routines and problems. When the monks are not gathered in this space for spiritual singing, the harshness of real life returns. The choir seats are narrow wooden benches with ornate carvings, and the back rows are raised along both walls of the holy hall. Ribbed vaulting creates echoing acoustics. 

The scriptorium of the library is ordered like a modern office, with a system of desks like pews, all facing one direction. The desk orientation prevents conversation and directs attention to a leader. The scriptorium is filled with a multitude of books and manuscripts, and they work on them on the desks. The arrangement of desks is dictated also by rows of short, round pillars with gothic capitals. 

The catacombs are a dark reminder of the Christianity’s past. Human skulls are stacked in rows. The halls are dark and damp, with dreary decor. The heroes must make their way with torches, for no natural light enters these halls of the dead. The architecture is simple, crude, and random; with small coves in the walls to house remains of bodies.

The locked library is a labyrinth in the tower, and it is where the climax occurs. Piranesi and Escher designed scenes of similar mysterious and chaotic stairs, with seemingly impossible connections. Hexagonal rooms filled with books lead off in four directions, while the action bombards our senses. Staircases drape from the shafts of the tower, and each of them branches off into countless rooms; all of which are almost identical. There are puzzles to be solved with logic and education. The labyrinth represents the workings of the confused, twisted, and guarded medieval mind. When the library is burned, it shows how fragile and fleeting history can be, despite our attempts to preserve the past and learn from it in the present.

SCOD Urban Architecture Notes

Posted in Alternative Architecture, Book Reports, Critical Commentary of Civilization, Historic Architecture, Languages, Politics, Pub Library, Recommendations & Tributes, SCOD Online School, Sustainability, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 17, 2020 by Drogo

American architecture has ‘plurality and duality’. We have a variety of expression with scales of space and attitude, for the rich and poor. We have a modern design duality of rectilinear and organic architecture. Rectilinear modernists have been influenced by: Gropius, Loos, Corbu, Mies, Meier, Kahn, and Johnson. Organic modernist heroes are fewer, and there are fewer of us: Wright, Moss, Gehry, Solari, and Predock.

New Urbanist sprawl still faces the problems of commercialism vs community. Their planning principles have helped us to have more mixed-use zoning, but we still have the problems of Capitalism in decline, with an expanding lower class, destroyed middle class, and imperial upper class. New developments in Maryland and West Virginia seem to ignore the problems of population debt infrastructure, ecological devastation, agricultural decline, and transportation congestion all for the sake of profit.

Moynihan said our cities were ‘soulless’, like Diogenes he was holding a lamp for architectural self-examination. Cities are not as safe as we would like, and we should always remember their epitaphs are too often ‘military target’. Violence and migration are the main problems of our ‘urbane’ urban design. We have so often been wrong in our problem solving, it is clear we need to learn more from our past patterns of tradition. The corruption in politics that creates bad planning, can only be countered by an aware and active population willing to conspire and protest more than the elites can bribe, to bring attention to values which cannot be bought. 

‘A Pattern Language’ by Chris Alexander explains how architecture is about relationships. There are many cultural associations and historical traditions that can be better than soulless sterile machines for living. Architecture is sculpture for living, and we should not ignore sociology and heritage for the sake of industrial convenience to serve a consumer society that is destroying our global environment for profit. Yes we should have standards for structures that are able to shelter us without collapsing, but sustainability must also include the arts and nature.

 

References:

American House Now‘ by Doubilet & Boles

Better Places‘ Chapter in ‘Geography of NoWhere’

‘Pattern Language’ Relationships by Chris Alexander

New Urbanism, Second Generation‘ by Beth Dunlap

The Soulless City‘ by Moynihan

 

 

 

 

Jimmy Carter & Mr Rogers

Posted in Commercial Corporations, Critical Commentary of Civilization, news, Politics, Recommendations & Tributes, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 5, 2020 by Drogo

Jimmy Carter is the closest we got to having Mr Rogers as president.

 

Jimmy Carter was an exception to the typical Neoliberal candidate, he had more humility and kind heartedness than most humans. I would love to listen to a lecture comparing him to other presidents, but he seemed to defy the slimy corruption to a much larger extent than most, even compared to most of the DNC candidates today, but i am not sure how much of that is a facade due to his southern charm similar to Obama’s charisma. Carter seems to have more substantial integrity than JFK or Obama, but i could be delusional about that image. I think Carter was hated by the establishment and republicans so much because he was not as corrupt as other presidents, but i cannot site all the reasons for my opinion on him. Carter was like having Mr Rogers as president, which certainly meant he was not as aggressive on issues whether good or bad.

i like the ‘Pence’ model of VP, where if you are liberal, you pick someone so radically liberal for your VP that no conservative would assassinate you because they are afraid of your VP taking power. So for example JFK could have picked someone more liberal than himself as VP, and he might not have been assassinated. Biden was a gift to republicans, since he was more conservative than Obama. If Obama had not bailed out the banks, the MIC, and wall street they might have taken him out, and Biden would have been quite happy to serve them at the highest level. Bush’s ‘softer and gentler nation’ concept was very interesting coming from a CIA guy.

The corporate parties are trying to divide us and make us vote against our own interests. This has been my life-long research into politics, to unmask why we do not have democracy where the popular vote counts federally, and why we cannot have actual sincere politicians because of how the people in charge of the parties work actively against us.

I am sick of politics as usual, but i focus on the good aspects that i can have some control over, and one is information sharing about how things work the way they do, and the way they don’t, and the way they should or could. The parties do not want most people knowing, but as an architect the structure of politics is important to me.

So i focus on how to make things better by supporting people who would make important changes for us more than the typical players and endless wars. I get attacked by my own family and conventional party people, but i decided i need to be able to support the best candidates for what i believe in with the environment and civil rights. The two party corporate system causes most of the problems from what i have been able to learn about with corporations and the environment.

Trump is the epitome of our capitalist system unfortunately, without serious change in thinking no one will beat him. that is why i wrote about the folk lore of tweedle dum and tweedle dee issue that gave us trump. sometimes making the sausage is ugly, but i think it is important to learn. If peace and environmental activists can get someone like Sanders to win, we can take over the DNC, and then i will join the DNC again. Our plants and animals need us to make important systemic change.

 

Online Musical Appreciation

Posted in Cooperative collaboration, Crafts, Creativity / Imagination, Critical Commentary of Civilization, Ethics & Morals, Multimedia Communication, POB Audio, Recommendations & Tributes, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 27, 2019 by Drogo

I do not know why comments on my Soundcloud account are supportive, and comments on Audiomack tend to be lame, but that is the difference in the platform community i guess. Hopefully more creative and kind collaborators will join Audiomack, so competitive jerks can get pushed off. Most serious good musicians know how to treat other players regardless of talent, but like any other genre extreme fans (or those without fans of their own) get nasty because as consumers they want to be expert judges on ‘what is good and what is bad’. When people call your original creation (which is always a collage blend of influences to various degrees) bad, let us hope for the sake of humanity that someone else finds something good about you; because art is personal expression.

I am not a professional musician because i do not get paid, although i frequently practice aka play. That being said I think we can cheer on our favorites, without being terrible people to those who we do not like as much. Maturity takes time, and not everyone will be able to respect the feelings of others as much as we might like; but know I have improved from the days when I attacked everything I did not like by insulting people who did like those things. Now I try to limit my aggression to the most important issues, and only occasionally give my opinions about silly stuff like pop music.

As Kyle Kulinski says uncensored comments can be as democratic as a bathroom wall. I encourage anyone who likes things to please rate and comment, because the assholes seem more motivated sometimes. Part of the problem seems to be with consumers not realizing that they have been conditioned by commercials to only consider popular brand names to be “quality”. We need to retrain society to invest in itself more.

Online appreciation of music is of course related to other arts and digital media. We have similar cultural problems regarding the support of authors and artists. Many of us desire to value human lives more than we have; and one way is through online appreciation and support for others in whatever ways we can.

 

 

Kresge Chapel at M.I.T. by Eero Saarinen

Posted in Alternative Architecture, Recommendations & Tributes, Sculpture, Spiritual, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on May 27, 2019 by Drogo

The Kresge Chapel at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) by Architect Eero Saarinen in Cambridge, Massachusetts [report written by Walton Stowell II for Modern History of Architecture II in 4/22/96]

 

“No less than religion at its best, architecture is best as a witness and custodian to the spirit of modern man.” – Pietro Belluschi, B’rith Kodesh Synagogue

 

“A brick wall didnt realize how beautiful it was until it was touched by sunlight.” – Louis Kahn

 

Eero Saarinen’s Inter-Denominational Kresge Chapel at M.I.T.

 

While  taking a leisurely stroll through the seemingly haphazard campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), I came upon a sweet and blissfully rotund form that was clearly composed of masonry brick set in a common Bond. It’s cylindrical form appeared pure and abstractly severe from afar. Closer inspection revealed a more intricate reality.  The surface was roughly textured by randomly protruded bricks, and a series of low arches of random size. The arches formed the base of the cylinder, backed by a smooth light-colored secondary interior wall. The base was set into a shallow pit, filled with water and ring with a rim of concrete. the Chapels massing was as conservative as your basic cylinder,  but the sharp alien Bell Tower steeple was an elegant antenna, A giant holy lance piercing the sky as though ready to shoot a beacon.

 

(sketch of perspective looking at Chapel from the front court-yard)

 

In relation to the other neighboring structures on campus, the brick construct was petite. The Kresge Chapel marked itself as part of the MIT campus, distinguished by having a remote location many yards from its neighbors; thus respectfully differentiating its functionality while remaining part of the whole, despite its blatant differences denoted by its particular scale and multi-dimensional form expression. The chapel makes its own transcendental statement  without being an eyesore. It does not fight the more conventional styles of buildings that surround it; in fact the traditional brick that was used matches the surrounding dorms.

 

Across the lawn from the Kresge Chapel, was another of Eero Saarinen buildings, the Kresge Auditorium. Both buildings were designed and built from 1950 to 1955, and dedicated to donor Sebastian Kresge, founder of Kresge (Kmart) Stores. The auditorium was much larger than the chapel, and completely different in style and materials.

 

(sketch of 2 buildings showing distance adjacency)

 

The narthex was a rectangular hallway encased in black glass, attached to the chapel from behind; like an extended arm connecting auxiliary rooms to the primary cylinder. I say that the hall was located in the back of the cylinder, because of my site orientation. My interpretation  being the front of the chapel was the side facing the auditorium, and their shared lawn space; where as the back was directed towards the alley. The structure of the black back hall was comprised of dark thin Gray repetitive vertical steel members. Each section of black glass was then further subdivided by smaller horizontal muntins spaced unevenly, from inches apart to feet apart. On either side of the black rectangle on the farthest end from the main cylinder, there were doors of Entry. They were double doors on each side of the hall, opposite each other and made of solid Pine with metal knockers as handles that open outward together. It made for a fine contrast between the bright Pine doors, and the sleek black enigma of the hallway repetition.  Above the doors were four conic lights with their tops cut off.

 

I reached for the door handles with no sense of what to expect within. I entered. The interior of the hallway was transparent to the outside, with only a faintly darkened tint. My natural, but false assumption that a dark structure with no direct openings for light makes for an even darker interior, was shattered. The narthex was very generously lighted on the inside, and I felt very safe. Flower baskets were placed on either side along the hall, for lovely interior decor. I turned to look down the glass hallway of adequate human proportions, and saw a beautiful white marble altar, with shimmering gold strands behind it. The richly tiled floor led me to the double height space. All in one breath I was taken into the space, and in one breath I took it all in.

 

Beautiful organ music began playing. It was coming from within that sacred vault, and yet I could see no one, nor even an organ. The tones undeniably complemented the space, and light poured in from an Oculus directly above the altar, which was refracted by a suspended Golden sculptural Screen. It was as if I were in a subterranean Realm, with no direct view to the outside world; but only washes of light on heavy Earthen walls. It was small for most churches and intimate, but I was not scared of being trapped in the confined space. I felt safe. It was as though I had been worming my way through the claustrophobic Labyrinth of Moria, and at last come to the inner Sanctum. I had risen from the catacombs, and been rewarded with the gift of space;  generous and conducive for personal prayer.

 

(sketch of altar with oculus)

 

I felt like an archaeologist after breaking the seals on a tomb, rolling away the barrier stone, and breathing in air undisturbed for eons. Spiritual fervor of ancient mysterious gods for every individual were welcome there. I had made the journey to the dreamy meditational sanctuary,  and now felt cleansed and purified; looking at the vulnerable and innocent white altar. The secret stairs behind the altar made me swoon like a willing sacrifice.

 

There were three walls of the Kresge Chapel itself. The outer wall had low arches which allowed light to reflect off the water in the moat, and up into the inner chamber. The inner wall undulated like a frozen wave, and the lower wall followed its example. In the daylight the textured brick work was highlighted by the exterior light Wells. The floor could fit a Congregation of 130 people,  and as I turned in circles to experience the space, I saw the pipe organ located above the entry-way. A student head their back to me, intent on playing the instrument with its elaborate pipes on display. Mass was about to begin.

 

(sketch of oculus)

 

Criticism of Eero Saarinen was common place because consistency of style was expected,  and his level of architectural innovation was way ahead of his time. Saarinen’s unpredictability and bold diversity irritated and even enraged his critics. Each new project was so vastly different, how could they judge his progress? As Philip Johnson put it “Eero  was all together unpredictable. Had he lived longer, he would have influenced everybody, and all of us.” Saarinen developed his own architectural style which was always a unique combination of Art and engineering. I chose Saarinen’s chapel because i knew about him from when i was a child. When Dad took me to Dulles and JFK (TWA Terminal) Airports, it was clear how special the buildings were, and told me who the architect was. Every building that Saarinen designed has blown my mind with its expressiveness and unearthly beauty. During my first year of architecture studio at RWU, professor Rico introduced me to this chapel based on my sketches of circles for a temple to the elements, and so i was inspired to have light filter in around the edges of the temple floor from water and air outside, on all levels.

 

Eero Saarinen once said that he began his projects with basic considerations of the particular job. Eero also respected the spirit, the client, the expression of the program, and site surroundings. To him the site area should include nature and technology; and a good balance should reduce egotism. He felt that MIT landscape should be more unified with the auditorium and chapel for integral flow. However I enjoyed the seclusion of the chapel, like a humble grove of trees for peaceful worship. Saarinen also felt his connection of the narthex and chapel was clumsily executed, but I feel it was perfectly successful for a small structure. Saarinen’s Chapel has axial intersection with its dominant cylindrical container of spiritual light.

 

By abstracting the Chapel’s form, Saarinen also simplified specific needs for spiritual practice. The shape and form of the chapel was derived from basic instincts like our desire to feel loved, protected, and respected. A circle symbolizes oneness like the power of the earth, the sun, the moon, and even a mother’s womb. Saarinen was deeply inspired by one of his travels as a student to the mountain village of Sparta, Greece. Eero recalled sitting with bright moon-light over-head, and a secondary light band around the horizon, soft and hushed.

 

“Kresge Chapel is all about light, drama, and interior serenity.” – Architectural Record Lighting (Nov. 1994)

 

End Report.

Power Corrupts People

Posted in Critical Commentary of Civilization, Education / Schools, Ethics & Morals, History, Recommendations & Tributes, Spiritual, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 15, 2018 by Drogo

Baron J.E.E. Dalberg-Acton (aka Lord Acton 1834-1902) was a noble English Catholic historian, politician, and writer. Lord Acton knew several major foreign languages. Acton’s linguistic and religious passion may have influenced Tolkien many years later. A fellow Catholic, Tolkien used the literary legacy that power tends to corrupt even the best men, as his main theme. In Lord of the Rings, the most powerful Ring cannot be used as a tool for good by even the best heroes, because they too would eventually be corrupted, no matter their intentions. The revelation seems to be that power is part of Original Sin as described in the the Bible, in the book of Genesis, in the Garden of Eden. The Old Testament myth that humans fell from the grace of godly paradise because we submitted to the evil temptation of power (the apple advocated by the serpent), seems to have found new expression in the words of these men. Acton collected a large historical library for the “History of Liberty”. Acton was politically Liberal, and travelled greatly. Acton loved reading original historic letters. Acton lived at his country house in Aldenham, Shropshire; and served in the House of Commons. Acton admired the U.S. Government for the Constitution, but oddly sided with the southern Confederacy for defending individual citizen liberties against the tyranny of Union Federal empire (while ignoring slavery). Acton was appointed to the Royal Victorian Order, as a Knight Commander (KCVO).

“History is the arbiter of controversy, the monarch of all she surveys.” “There is not a more perilous or immoral habit of mind than the sanctifying of success.” [about Oliver Cromwell] “The strong man with the dagger is followed by the weak man with the sponge.” “Liberty is not the power of doing what we like, but the right of being able to do what we ought.”

In 1887 Lord Acton wrote his most famous quote:

“…I cannot accept your canon that we are to judge Pope and King unlike other men, with a favorable presumption that they did no wrong. If there is any presumption it is the other way, against the holders of power, increasing as the power increases. Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility. Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority, still more when you super-add the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it. That is the point at which the negation of Catholicism and the negation of Liberalism meet and keep high festival, and the end learns to justify the means. You would hang a man of no position like Ravaillac; but if what one hears is true, then Elizabeth asked the jailer to murder Mary, and William III of England ordered his Scots minister to extirpate (destroy) a clan. Here are the greatest names coupled with the greatest crimes; you would spare those criminals, for some mysterious reason. I would hang them higher than Haman (biblical Persian minister in the Book of Esther), for reasons of quite obvious justice, still more, still higher for the sake of historical science.”

He is best known for that remark he wrote in a letter to an Anglican bishop; but according to an editor of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica: “Lord Acton has left too little completed original work to rank among the great historians; his very learning seems to have stood in his way; he knew too much and his literary conscience was too acute for him to write easily, and his copiousness of information overloads his literary style. But he was one of the most deeply learned men of his time, and he will certainly be remembered for his influence on others.”

**

Mohandas ‘Bapu’ Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948) was an Indian Hindu non-violent civil disobedience activist. Gandhi was leader of the Indian independence movement against British colonial rule. Gandhi’s self-sacrifice inspired freedom movements for civil rights across the World. Raised in a merchant caste family in India, he later trained in law in London. Gandhi first used non-violent civil disobedience in South Africa, for colonial civil rights. Returning to India in 1915, he organized farmers and workers to protest against high land tax and bigotry. Leading the Indian National Congress in 1921, Gandhi led national campaigns for social causes and self-rule (Swaraj).

Gandhi helped India challenge the British salt tax by marching in 1930. In 1942 Gandhi called for the British to leave India. He was imprisoned for many years, upon many occasions, in South Africa and India. Gandhi lived modestly in a community and wore a traditional hand-spun Indian dhoti and shawl. Gandhi was vegetarian and took long fasts for spiritual and political reasons. Muslim Nationalism (Pakistan) and Gandhi’s Hindu pluralism in India helped to force Britain out of India in 1947.

Displaced Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs migrated; and religious violence broke out in Punjab and Bengal. Gandhi visited the riots to help and fasted to stop religious violence. Hindu nationalist conservatives criticized and assassinated Gandhi. Gandhi’s birthday is commemorated in India as a national holiday, and worldwide as the International Day of Nonviolence. As with all martyr heroes that lives real lives, Gandhi had many human flaws of the sort that might be emphasized more when historical writers express loss of popular favor their cults.

**

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien’s work was certainly influenced by the events of the World Wars, despite his public refusal of metaphor speculation. ‘The Lord of the Rings‘ explores abuse of corrupt power, by considering that the temptation of use of power can eventually corrupt anyone. The One Ring of Power created by Sauron promises great power, but eventually corrupts all who use it. Even good people are corrupted by lust for the Ring because of its power to rival Sauron, and by using its vast powers even the lightest souls darken. The ones best able to carry the Ring are innocent souls with meager ambition, and the best they can do with the Ring is to destroy it.

Tolkien said these words about power: “The proper study of man is anything but man, and the most improper job of any man . . is bossing other men. Not one in a million is fit for it, and least of all those who seek the opportunity.” [Letters #52] Tolkien believed that leaders should be judged by their example, more than common people are judged [James 3:1]. Power and authority allow for the most terrible things. The misuse of power often ruins leaders and followers who allow the abuse to happen. Vigilant active citizens will demand wise balance.

***

Power within us and others is clearly our responsibility; not only to control our own will power to keep it within reason, but also to influence the power that we allow others to hold over us and others. If citizens cannot control their own leader’s passion for power from within a government using democracy, then it will be left up to other governments in other countries (see World Wars). The conclusion to the problem of power is perhaps best summarized by Spiderman in Marvel Comics – “With great power, comes great responsibility.”

RIP Artist Thor Carlson

Posted in Arts (Design & Performance), Memorials / Obituaries / Epitaphs, Recommendations & Tributes, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on July 11, 2018 by Drogo

E. Thor Carlson was from Massachusetts and New Hampshire, of Finnish descent. Thor Carlson was best known for his Oil Paintings and Woven Tapestries, but he was also a WW2 veteran. [1925-2013]

“At Yale studied with Eugene Savage, Louis York, Dean Keller, and Sante Graziani. Before graduation, he was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship for a year’s study at the Academia in Florence to study fresco painting. Returning to Yale, he completed his fifth and final year, studying with Josef Albers and Willem DeKooning. He graduated ‘In Primi Honoris’ with a BFA in painting (1951). After graduation he went to New York City, working first as a Junior Art Director at the advertising firm of McCann-Erickson and, later, on advise from well known muralist, Allyn Cox, as a free-lance mural painter. He became a member of the National Society of Mural Painters (1956) after painting a mural in the Waldorf-Astoria for Conrad N. Hilton. In 1986, he moved to Charlestown, New Hampshire. During the summer of 1987, he was a “Visiting Artist” at Saint Gaudens National Park in Cornish. Tapestry weaving has occupied much of the artist’s work during the past thirty-four years. His grandmother taught him Scandinavian methods for tapestry. Many of his tapestries have won prizes. His tapestry, “Peaceweaver’s Web”, on exhibit at the Entler Hotel Gallery, Shepherdstown, West Virginia, was viewed by President Bill Clinton during the Israeli-Syrian Peace Conference in January 2000.” – from his website

“Thor visited with my family, and we visited with him for many days over many years from the 1980s to 1990s and a few times after 2000 before my father died in 2009. I mailed him back some of his paintings which were in our gallery but we did not own. We sold some of the pieces we owned, but still have others. He shared with me many personal insights into his art and his writing, and was always kind and gentle. I almost studied oil painting with him, but instead discussed descriptive narrative with him regarding our related thesis work about ‘dwelling’. I was greatly influenced by his style, from having his paintings in our house on display all my life. My favorite times spent with him were reflective at Lake Sunapee, in his house, and at Saint Gaudens. It was my father that got his work displayed at the Entler, and got Clinton in to see the exhibit by running into the street and waving his hands in front of the motorcade. Clinton remembered my father as Mayor of Harpers Ferry during the Earth Day events previously, so he agreed to check out Thor’s Peace Tapestry.”  – Walton Stowell II

Peace Tapestry 01

Drogo’s Funeral Party

Posted in Events / Celebrations, Pagan, Recommendations & Tributes, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on June 29, 2018 by Drogo

Upon the Death of Drogo Empedocles, there shall be a party.

Eventually I will die. When my death comes, I will have a party for friends and family.

The affordable funeral ceremony will be a party at a park, farm, or garden; organized by my PR and any of my close friends (Beamer, Jeffy, Aeyla) that volunteer to help announce and send invitations. My funeral party will be open to anyone who wishes to attend and pay respect to my life and celebrate memories living on in their own lives. The PR will decide on the portion of my treasures (art, books, collections) to present to family and attendees who are minor beneficiaries. Paid live musicians. Fire offerings should be herbs, clothes, and my cremated ashes. If alcohol is not allowed at the property, attendees can have an after-party for toasts. Time: Noon to at least Dusk, and on to Midnight if possible.

(this is part 6 of my Last Will and Testament 2018)

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Corporate Media Fails Democracy

Posted in news, Politics, Recommendations & Tributes, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on March 27, 2017 by Drogo

Sadly it is up to bloggers and independent media to hold corporate government and media accountable, as underfunded as we are. In 2016 I would watch Bernie Sanders lectures online with enormous live crowds, while all news networks ignored his popularity and instead chose to air Clinton and Trump as their two pre-selected favorites. Every single day, every week, for months during the National election campaigns. It was blatantly obvious to me time after time, that our public news was being filtered in favor of the two candidates that their bosses had decided were worth reporting on. It was a ridiculous ‘good guy vs bad guy’ show, with no room for rational public dialog on issues that affect us.

The failing of big news media outlets to cover all the candidates was not just by ‘for-profit’ corporations like the major commercial tv networks, but also newspapers and ‘non-profits’. Obviously commercial news networks [FOX, NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, Washington Post, NY Times] would not want to advocate any politicians that threaten their corporate sponsors, but apparently even the ‘liberal’ news shows of NPR & PBS were not immune to their corporate sponsors either, despite receiving our tax payer money (some government funding) and a majority of their money from PUBLIC pledge-drives!! I will no longer donate to my beloved NPR or PBS until they begin to cover the smaller candidates much more during (at least) National elections. Usually NPR or PBS were the only intelligently sensitive news sources I had to rely on for many years, and I still love many of their shows. However the National election press coverage clearly showed that corporate money corrupts even the media, not just our government. In hind-sight they have done this with many other ‘lesser known’ but brilliant candidates that have represented popular beliefs, like Dennis Kucinich, Mike Gravel, and Cynthia McKinney.

We must remember that our media and government is there to serve us, not the other way around. If corporations insist on forcing us to submit to their influence, by dictating what or who gets propaganda and attention and how they get it, then we must not only resist but supply alternative solutions and vote for change. We the people must unite and show our opinions for support or boycott publicly. Thank you to all those who have done this resistance fighting already!!! Remember, remember, how they foiled our democracy; and have been doing it for a long time. Please continue to seek the truth so that democracy can work for us.

Bernie Sanders

My Tribute to Actress Bette Ford

Posted in Recommendations & Tributes, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 20, 2017 by Drogo

When i was a kid, a Hollywood actress came to stay at our Bed & Breakfast in Harpers Ferry.

Her name was ‘Dingeldein’, but she had changed it to ‘Bette Ford’. Anyway she was so sweet to me, calling me cute etc, and she talked to me like a human she really liked. She learned i liked Ghostbusters, and she was friends with the actor that played Viggo the Cartpathean in G2, so she mailed me his large photos with signatures to me his fan. I must have been 12 years old, but it changed my life to know that i could talk to the people that i saw in shows like Hunter on TV, or get notes from famous movie actors, suddenly it felt like i could live the way i want when i grow up. I think i started to realize that the happiest adults pursue what they want, even if it is as insane as acting.

from Wikipedia:

“Bette Ford (born Harriet Elizabeth Dingeldein; June 24, 1937) is an American actress and former model and professional bullfighter. She was the first American woman to fight on foot in the Plaza México, the world’s largest bullfight arena. Bette Ford was born in McKeesport, Pennsylvania. She began her career as a model and actress in New York, where her modeling credits included stints as the Jantzen Bathing Suit Girl, the Camay Bride, and the Parliament Cigarette Girl, and her acting credits included appearances as a regular on The Jackie Gleason Show and The Jimmy Durante Show. While on a modeling photo shoot in Bogotá, Colombia, Ford was introduced to the renowned matador Luis Miguel Dominguín and watched him fight in the ring. Soon after, Ford left New York for Mexico to train as a bullfighter. Warner Bros made a short documentary about her training.

Her historic debut at the Plaza México was followed by several years of fighting as a figura (bullfighting celebrity) in Mexico and the Philippines. The studio MGM, which had offered her an acting contract before she left New York to become a bullfighter, planned a full-length feature film based on her life story, and sent several writers, among them John Meston, the co-creator of Gunsmoke, to meet with Ford and discuss a screenplay. Ford married Meston shortly after they met and then retired as a bullfighter. Ford has appeared in feature films including the Clint-Eastwood-directed ‘Sudden Impact’ and ‘Honkytonk Man’, and television series including Cheers, L.A. Law, Melrose Place, and Felicity. Her voice can be heard in ‘The Animatrix’, the companion animated DVD of the film trilogy ‘The Matrix’, and numerous commercials.

Shortly after moving back to New York, she married another actor, David Ford, whose name she kept after the marriage ended. She later married John Meston (who died in 1979) an American radio and television writer best known for creating, along with Norman Macdonnell, the long-running radio and TV series, Gunsmoke. Her third and current husband is Scott Wolkoff.”

i lost touch with her because as a kid i was not good at writing to adults. I learned that even famous people can care about those without as much fame or ‘success’. Which of course begs the question of what ‘success’ can be for most people.

  • Valley of the Sun …. Bunny McGill (2011)
  • The Animatrix …. (voice only)
  • Final Flight of the Osiris …. (voice only)
  • The Division …. (TV Episode)
  • Felicity …. (TV Episode)
  • ER …. (TV Episode)
  • Providence …. (2 TV episodes)
  • Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place …. (TV Episode)
  • Promised Land …. (TV Episode)
  • A River Made to Drown In …. Lady with Whip
  • Nash Bridges …. (TV Episode)
  • A Face to Die For (TV Episode) …. (TV Episode)
  • It Was Him or Us …. (TV Episode)
  • Party of Five …. (TV Episode)
  • Thunder Alley …. (TV Episode)
  • Tales from the Crypt …. (TV Episode)
  • Melrose Place …. (TV Episode)
  • The Wonder Years …. (TV Episode)
  • The Commish …. (TV Episode)
  • Marked for Death …. Kate Hatcher
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air …. (TV Episode)
  • Hunter …. (TV Episode)
  • Major Dad …. (TV Episode)
  • L.A. Law …. (4 TV episodes)
  • A Year in the Life …. (TV Episode)
  • Crime Story …. (TV Episode)
  • Hotel …. (TV Episode)
  • Crazy Like a Fox …. (TV Episode)
  • Cheers …. (2 TV episodes)
  • St. Elsewhere …. (TV Episode)
  • Emerald Point N.A.S. …. (TV Episode)
  • Sudden Impact …. Leah
  • Falcon Crest …. (TV Episode)
  • Falcon Crest …. (TV Episode)
  • Honkytonk Man …. Lulu
  • James at 15 …. (TV Episode)
  • Emergency! …. (TV Episode)

Midevil Films Review

Posted in Arts (Design & Performance), Fictional Stories, Film Reviews, Interviews, POB Video, Recommendations & Tributes, Roleplaying / Reenacting with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 19, 2013 by Drogo

Midevil Films Productions

Mid-Western American Independent Film group

Based on Interview with Founder, Producer, Director, Writer, and Actress:  Angela Daum 

Aliases include: Arlyssen Arlussen / Olivia Alyss / Kallie Stevenson

List of some Films:

The Map, The Lesson and The Test, Angela as a Ranger, Angela as a Courier, The Three Gems, I murdered a Fairy?, Ranger Mottos, MCIS, Midevil Crime Investigation Service, The Day in the Life of a Courier, How to wash your K9, Andrew Audition

Angela has fun with all her films, and the actors are good and play along well with the script for a finished result. She is a maverick woman who is both a passionate writer and a bold actress. She is a loyal to her crafts and her friends.

Watch their films on Youtube Channel Ranger Alyss. Angela’s favorite scene from Angela as a Ranger is: “What I have I gotten myself into.” Angela: “The weeds you just walked into them.”

For Angela film making is a passion she want to continue for as long as possible; with more shows and films on the way!!

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End of Interview with Angela of Midevil Films.

– squirrel happens! –

Savannah, Georgia

Posted in Alternative Architecture, Historic Architecture, Organic Architecture, Recommendations & Tributes, Sustainability with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 16, 2013 by Drogo

Historic Architecture, Environmental Landscape, and Urban Social Art

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Savannah has the historic integrity of an ivy-league campus, yet for the poor as well as rich. Yes, it is very much the old pirate ‘Port Royal’ still, but in some ways it also surpasses the nobility of elite university campuses. Even the SCAD (Savannah College of Art & Design) campus is spread throughout the city, and SCAD classes are held in renovated industrial buildings, often with Richardsonian strength; so that liberal education is fully-integrated with the city. As far as competing with modern industrial metropolitan cities, Savannah has plenty of modern and post-modern architecture, and SCAD teaches cutting-edge technology; but it has no desire to be as massively impersonal as New York, or any other major city.

Savannah urban design is overwhelmingly utopian, despite there being dystopian flavors as well. The main streets force cars to either park or drive around the eleven park squares (circuses), while pedestrians can go straight through on sidewalks and bike lanes. It is easy to find any place in the formal city because there are no diagonal streets, one tall building in the middle (DeSoto Hotel), and a few tall buildings downtown parallel with the Savannah River. The downtown main-streets (River Street) on Saint Patrick’s Day are celebrated on par with Mardi-Gras. There are so many unique aspects to Savannah, from its very origins. The basic ‘Roman encampment’ grid urban layout is flavored by multiple circuses with vegetation. Live-oaks, palms, and crepe-myrtle trees are naturally hung with Spanish moss. From sandy soil hedges, herbs, flowers and grasses are also publicly grown for the enjoyment of all.

I will find out more about the city founders, besides Oglethorpe; specifically the Native American chief of the local Creek Indians, because he seems to deserve the same level of respect as the English founder, Oglethorpe. The British and Indians were friends, and one of the largest monuments in a prominent park is dedicated to the Indian Chief’s grave. Southern hospitality is less surface courtesy in Savannah, and more a part of its essence; in regards to integration of whites and blacks, international representation, multi-culturalism, and willingness to welcome even enemies (like General Sherman during the Civil War).

There are several ways to consider the social types that comprise the ‘daily population’ of Savannah. There are five basic social types; the rich residents (white blue-blood aristocracy and new-money millionaires), the poor working-class (merchant and service residents and workers), the street beggars (homeless, hustlers, artists), SCAD students (artists, professors, staff), and tourists (pedestrian, trolley, horse-buggy).

According to Dr. Hsu-Jen Huang (SCAD Architecture Professor), Savannah has been growing, even during the recession. In ten years, the city population and SCAD enrollment have doubled. Some buildings still fall between the cracks, but for every loss two more renovations or new constructs emerge. After the 1994 book Midnight In the Garden of Good and Evil, Savannah has continued to blossom as one of the best cities in the World. Many of its qualities were always inherent in the original urban design, and it continues to grow because of accepted differences.

From the American Revolution, to the Civil War, and beyond; Savannah embraces its strange stories. It has an other-worldly, old world, old town feel. Ghost tours are quite at home with the lamp-lights, cobblestone streets, brick walkways, and French ironwork balconies. It is in fact a small city; one which favors pedestrian traffic more than automobiles. The whole downtown is walkable, and locals often easily commute with bicycles as well (as I did for 3 years).

There are so many fun things to do there, it might be hard to know were to begin; if Savannah were not an immediately immersible, hospitable environment. The whole city is a memory garden, which literally blooms because of all the flowers. There are less flowers and leaves in the Winter, but Fall, Winter, and Spring are best weather-wise; as there is rarely snow, and Summers are often walls of heat and humidity (which it is known for even during Fall and Spring).

Architecturally Savannah is truly unique, with historic world and southern romantic blends. Town-houses often have the side-porch design, as with nearby Charleston, SC. The cast-iron railings and french dormers have that New Orleans feel. Parks and trees really do make a huge difference for traffic. Even while continuing to grow, Savannah is still one of the most colorful and pedestrian friendly cities in America. I can say after living there, the magic is real; including the variety of character personalities that the famous book alludes to.

Midnight In the Garden of Good & Evil describes much of the architectural and social feel of the town. ‘Midnight’ the book has much more analysis of detail, while the film has literally has more visual images. I lived in three parts of town, and often passed by famous landmarks on daily commutes to classes. The main character’s house (Mercer Mansion) is on Bull Street along a square, towards the largest city park, Forsyth Park. Forsyth Park was my favorite park that I loved living on, because of the large open grass lawns, largest and most beautiful fountain, organic paths, and shady flora. There I was free to publicly practice Tai-Chi, hippy folk music, or jogging without much bother.

Most of this essay describes the utopian aspects of Savannah, but this paragraph should put some of the dystopian perspectives in context. The poor and the dead, out-number the rich and the living. Southern swamp-lands naturally have a salty entropic power that corrodes metals, moisture that promotes the decay of organic matter, and massive humidity that stifles productive activity, while encouraging roaches and gnats. The humane social ‘decadence’ of the town, allows for an ease of poverty. Kindness tolerates and sometimes falls prey to hustlers. Vandalism and theft are common crimes in Savannah, with the occasional mugging (typical of cities in general). Although crimes are committed by lower classes, the majority (which are poor) are respectful, lawful, and often generous. So you see despite the ‘scariness’, actual dangers are minimal for a city.

Savannah’s name appropriately indicates the climate heat, and the flat field look of the surrounding wetland marsh grasses. Old pirate maps referred to the lands inland along the River as ‘Savannah Land’. Google Street view is very impressive, with realism. It really helps get the feel for the freedom of moving through the town by photographic vista. In the 1990’s we were taking panoramic photos for architecture projects so it really feels appropriate. Day trips easily include the famous Bonaventure Cemetery, Oatland Island Wildlife Center, and Tybee Island Beach.

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John Muir

Posted in Nature Studies, Recommendations & Tributes with tags , , , , , , , on February 7, 2013 by Drogo

1838-1914  Western States, USA

Naturalist author, advocate of wilderness preservation

Christian Deist yet refers to Mother Nature

*  some quotes *

Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.
My First Summer in the Sierra , 1911

There is a love of wild nature in everybody an ancient mother-love ever showing itself whether recognized or no, and however covered by cares and duties.
– From Muir’s journals

Come to the woods, for here is rest. There is no repose like that of the green deep woods. Here grow the wallflower and the violet. The squirrel will come and sit upon your knee, the logcock will wake you in the morning. Sleep in forgetfulness of all ill. Of all the upness accessible to mortals, there is no upness comparable to the mountains. Nature is always lovely, invincible, glad, whatever is done and suffered by her creatures. All scars she heals, whether in rocks or water or sky or hearts.
John of the Mountains

Any fool can destroy trees. They cannot run away; and if they could, they would still be destroyed — chased and hunted down as long as fun or a dollar could be got out of their bark hides, branching horns, or magnificent bole backbones. Few that fell trees plant them; nor would planting avail much towards getting back anything like the noble primeval forests. … It took more than three thousand years to make some of the trees in these Western woods — trees that are still standing in perfect strength and beauty, waving and singing in the mighty forests of the Sierra. Through all the wonderful, eventful centuries … God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand straining, leveling tempests and floods; but he cannot save them from fools — only Uncle Sam can do that.
Our National Parks 1901

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.
Our National Parks , 1901
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From Sierra Club information:

When Muir Met Emerson –

Emerson, who lived in Massachusetts, came to Yosemite in 1871 when he was 68. Muir – a buoyant 33 – could barely contain his jubilation at his hero’s arrival. As Muir later recounted:

When he came into the Valley I heard the hotel people saying with solemn emphasis, “Emerson is here.” I was excited as I had never been excited before, and my heart throbbed as if an angel direct from heaven had alighted on the Sierran rocks.

Muir offered to take him camping at a grove populated with giant Sequoia trees, and promised to “build a glorious campfire.”

But Emerson and his handlers had other ideas – namely a nice, comfortable hotel, lest the old man catch cold. Muir wrote:

In vain I urged, that only in homes and hotels were colds caught, that nobody ever was known to take cold camping in these woods, that there was not a single cough or sneeze in all the Sierra. Then I pictured the big climate-changing, inspiring fire I would make, praised the beauty and fragrance of Sequoia flame, told how the great trees would stand about us transfigured in purple light, while the stars looked between the great domes; ending by urging them to come on and make an immortal Emerson night of it. But the house habit was not to be overcome, nor the strange dread of pure night air, though it is only cooled day air with a little dew in it. So the carpet dust and unknowable reeks were preferred.

Muir continued to look up to Emerson, but he never quite recovered from his disappointment that the great man preferred the “carpet dust and unknowable reeks” to a night under the stars.

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