Wednesday, August 20, 2014

In a Cowboy Mood

North American Traditional of Uncertain origins

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Westwood, Lassen County, California in Winter

Winter of 1918
Pixie Warrior was set in this place and that year.

Uncertain Date But Note the Truck

Just because I like it ....

Small Fae, Pixie Relations

I need a nice crown ...

Sometimes you resemble them and sometimes you don't.
My legs are much more attractive, but I don't have a fancy crown.


I've updated the blog template reluctantly. The new one works better than the old one, even if I still like the old one best. Nothing Google touches works well. As with Yahoo, if they "improve" something, they break it.

Roberto's Great Grandfather. Taken in the USA about 1905

Saturday, August 09, 2014

From O. Reader:


            In a recent post I described how my path to recovery from illness involved watching old rock and roll films. Following a traditional pattern, the next stage was to go back into history and watch some of my large collection of silent movies. Silent cinema is viewed by some cineasts as “pure cinema” but of course – joy of joys - it had its fair share of clunkers. And this post is going to be all about one such movie – Noah’s Ark. Forget Russell Crowe in the latest version – this was the movie to die for. As some extras did. Literally.

I had a cut-down 8mm version of this movie a million years ago which I regularly used to show at certain gatherings. More true life confessions about that later.

My collection of film books includes several by the Medved brothers – including The Hollywood Hall of Shame. A most entertaining read. And Noah’s Ark is there – right at the beginning. I think they are a little unfair – I can think of more worthy contenders for trash – but I can see what they mean.

To begin with, a lot depends how good you are on your Bible stories. The makers of Noah’s Ark obviously fell asleep rather a lot when in Sunday School, because their basic story went along these lines:

Once up a time men were very wicked. They built a tower with its top in the heavens. They also worshipped a golden calf. So God spoke to Noah through a burning bush and told him about a flood. The actual flood details and blueprint for the ark were delivered by fire thumping into a mountainside to produce tablets of stone. Unlike the version in the Ten Commands, two tablets were insufficient, so the film makers had Noah’s tablets turn the page as the fiery commands were given. Do you know – I never realised that the ‘codex simplex’ went back so far into history. It is remarkable what Hollywood can teach you. Oh yes – and when the people came to destroy the Ark, a pillar of fire protected it... There’s also a nod towards the Bible story of Sampson. I could go on. But I‘ll be good. I won’t.

If none of that seems unusual to you, then YOU probably fell asleep in Sunday School too – assuming you ever went.

The press releases screamed how a deluge of water drowned A WORLD OF LUST. In case the viewer was a little unsure about the latter, the film obligingly spent a considerable amount of time depicting said WORLD OF LUST. This high moral position dealt with both the Hayes Code and the viewers’ predilections quite satisfactorily.

There were some sequences originally filmed in two-tone color – sadly now missing from current prints. To ensure the extras had the right pre-deluvian (He’s English. He means antediluvian – Pixie) flesh tones, they were all sprayed with something akin to prune juice each day before filming. And the actual flood is still quite spectacular today, because in a sense, it was real.

A series of reservoirs had been built in the Hollywood hills to hold goodness knows how many tons of water, and a Temple of Moloch set had been constructed in a huge studio tank – filled to the brim with worshipping and celebrating extras (trivia time – one was a young and uncredited John Wayne). At a given moment, the waters came down with maximum force, destroying the temple – and according to modern day reports, killing three extras, and maiming several others. The cameras kept on rolling and the footage of course was used in the finished movie.

Many years ago I used to do a one hour talk all about the biblical flood. The veracity of the Bible account is not our concern here – but I put on what was then a full audio-visual experience. There were well over 100 slides – shown on a rotary slide projector. There was movie film – yes, my cut down 8mm version of Noah’s Ark – shown on an old Russian Luch projector – very reliable but weighing a ton. If it fell off the table it would break your foot. Then there was a cassette recorder with sound effects including Beethoven’s storm sequence from his 6th (Pastoral) to fit the flood waters. Added to this was a light, a microphone – which had to double for the recorder – a sheaf of notes – a mass of cables mimicking spaghetti - and me.

It was one of those performances at which I marvel now. There was SO MUCH that could go wrong. Generally it didn’t, but I am sure that half the thrill for the audience was waiting to see what went bang, or didn’t go at all, and how many pounds “O” would lose while trying to keep his vocals at an even keel while the production threatened to replicate the last moments of the Titanic all around him.

When good sense finally pensioned off my talk, the short bit of 8mm film came into its own in another context. With my trusty heavyweight cine-camera, I would regularly film people’s weddings – and some of those 8mm films, now transferred to DVD video are still trotted out in some households to embarrass the grandchildren.

One couple got married in mid-summer on one of those days when the heavens just opened. It was all umbrellas and mud spattered dresses and veils flapping madly in the wind. I dutifully filmed it all – no concessions to careful camera angles and soft-focus – if this was how it was, well – this was how it was! And, my sense of humor being what it was, at the editing stage I was able to intercut all sorts of spectacle from my Noah’s Ark film. So the bride appeared clutching her head covering – cut to violent flash of lightening depicting the wrath of God... Bride and groom struggled through mini-floods to get into bridal car – cut to cascades of water onto luckless extras in the Temple of Moloch before being swept away to their doom.

I was really pleased with my efforts.

I don’t think they’ve spoken to me since...

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Nice words from another historian

Just wanted to update you on my progress. I received your book last week. I have read it including almost all the footnotes. And have highlighted most every page with red pen so that I can go back and zero in on certain points, which I plan to do.
I very much appreciate your labor of love on this project. From my own areas of research, I understand how much work and tedious effort goes into such a production. As authors and researchers, you excel at this task.


To my Great Great Grand Uncle who was a marine all his life and who fought in three of America's wars.

The Ultimatum.

Often characterized as unreasonable, you will note that it demanded nothing that the US and UK governments haven't demanded of others before and since:

Austria-Hungary's Ultimatum to Serbia 

On the 31st of March, 1909, the Serbian Minister in Vienna, on the instructions of the Serbian Government, made the following declaration to the Imperial and Royal Government: 

"Serbia recognizes that the fait accompli regarding Bosnia has not affected her rights and consequently she will conform to the decisions that the Powers may take in conformity with Article 25 of the Treaty of Berlin. In deference to the advice of the Great Powers, Serbia undertakes to renounce from now onwards the attitude of protest and opposition which she has adopted with regard to the annexation since last autumn. 

She undertakes, moreover, to modify the direction of her policy with regard to Austria-Hungary and to live in future on good neighbourly terms with the latter." 

The history of recent years, and in particular the painful events of the 28th of June last, have shown the existence of a subversive movement with the object of detaching a part of the territories of Austria-Hungary from the Monarchy. 

The movement, which had its birth under the eye of the Serbian Government, has gone so far as to make itself manifest on both sides of the Serbian frontier in the shape of acts of terrorism and a series of outrages and murders. 

Far from carrying out the formal undertakings contained in the declaration of the 31st of March, 1909, the Royal Serbian Government has done nothing to repress these movements.  It has permitted the criminal machinations of various societies and associations directed against the Monarchy, and has tolerated unrestrained language on the part of the press, the glorification of the perpetrators of outrages, and the participation of officers and functionaries in subversive agitation. 

It has permitted an unwholesome propaganda in public instruction; in short, it has permitted all manifestations of a nature to incite the Serbian population to hatred of the Monarchy and contempt of its institutions. 

This culpable tolerance of the Royal Serbian Government had not ceased at the moment when the events of the 28th of June last proved its fatal consequences to the whole world. 

It results from the depositions and confessions of the criminal perpetrators of the outrage of the 28th of June that the Serajevo assassinations were planned in Belgrade; that the arms and explosives with which the murderers were provided had been given to them by Serbian officers and functionaries belonging to the Narodna Odbrana; and finally, that the passage into Bosnia of the criminals and their arms was organized and effected by the chiefs of the Serbian frontier service. 

The above-mentioned results of the magisterial investigation do not permit the Austro-Hungarian Government to pursue any longer the attitude of expectant forbearance which they have maintained for years in face of the machinations hatched in Belgrade, and thence propagated in the territories of the Monarchy.  The results, on the contrary, impose on them the duty of putting an end to the intrigues which form a perpetual menace to the tranquillity of the Monarchy. 

To achieve this end the Imperial and Royal Government see themselves compelled to demand from the Royal Serbian Government a formal assurance that they condemn this dangerous propaganda against the Monarchy; in other words the whole series of tendencies, the ultimate aim of which is to detach from the Monarchy territories belonging to it and that they undertake to suppress by every means this criminal and terrorist propaganda.

In order to give a formal character to this undertaking the Royal Serbian Government shall publish on the front page of their "Official Journal" of the 13-26 of July the following declaration: 

"The Royal Government of Serbia condemn the propaganda directed against Austria-Hungary - i.e., the general tendency of which the final aim is to detach from the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy territories belonging to it, and they sincerely deplore the fatal consequences of these criminal proceedings.

The Royal Government regret that Serbian officers and functionaries participated in the above-mentioned propaganda and thus compromised the good neighbourly relations to which the Royal Government were solemnly pledged by their declaration of the 31st of March, 1909. 

The Royal Government, who disapprove and repudiate all idea of interfering or attempting to interfere with the destinies of the inhabitants of any part whatsoever of Austria-Hungary, consider it their duty formally to warn officers and functionaries, and the whole population of the Kingdom, that henceforward they will proceed with the utmost rigor against persons who may be guilty of such machinations, which they will use all their efforts to anticipate and suppress." 

This declaration shall simultaneously be communicated to the Royal army as an order of the day by His Majesty the King and shall be published in the "Official Bulletin" of the army. 

The Royal Serbian Government shall further undertake: 

(1) To suppress any publication which incites to hatred and contempt of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and the general tendency of which is directed against its territorial integrity; 

(2) To dissolve immediately the society styled "Narodna Odbrana," to confiscate all its means of propaganda, and to proceed in the same manner against other societies and their branches in Serbia which engage in propaganda against the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy.  The Royal Government shall take the necessary measures to prevent the societies dissolved from continuing their activity under another name and form;

(3) To eliminate without delay from public instruction in Serbia, both as regards the teaching body and also as regards the methods of instruction, everything that serves, or might serve, to foment the propaganda against Austria-Hungary; 

(4) To remove from the military service, and from the administration in general, all officers and functionaries guilty of propaganda against the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy whose names and deeds the Austro-Hungarian Government reserve to themselves the right of communicating to the Royal Government;

(5) To accept the collaboration in Serbia of representatives of the Austro-Hungarian Government for the suppression of the subversive movement directed against the territorial integrity of the Monarchy;

(6) To take judicial proceedings against accessories to the plot of the 28th of June who are on Serbian territory; delegates of the Austro-Hungarian Government will take part in the investigation relating thereto;

(7) To proceed without delay to the arrest of Major Voija Tankositch and of the individual named Milan Ciganovitch, a Serbian State employee, who have been compromised by the results of the magisterial inquiry at Serajevo; 

(8) To prevent by effective measures the cooperation of the Serbian authorities in the illicit traffic in arms and explosives across the frontier, to dismiss and punish severely the officials of the frontier service at Shabatz Loznica guilty of having assisted the perpetrators of the Serajevo crime by facilitating their passage across the frontier; 

(9) To furnish the Imperial and Royal Government with explanations regarding the unjustifiable utterances of high Serbian officials, both in Serbia and abroad, who, notwithstanding their official position, have not hesitated since the crime of the 28th of June to express themselves in interviews in terms of hostility to the Austro-Hungarian Government; and, finally, 

(10) To notify the Imperial and Royal Government without delay of the execution of the measures comprised under the preceding heads.

  The Austro-Hungarian Government expect the reply of the Royal Government at the latest by 5 o'clock on Saturday evening the 25th of July

Roberto's Grandfather - World War 2

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

National Personality

Ever notice that national personalities are reflected in marches?

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Blood, sweat ... and chocolate

            I continue to research our last chapter. (Don’t get all excited. We’re writing it out of order.) Our outline for it will change. Parts of it will be tucked into other chapters, and part of it may become a separate chapter. That’s not unusual. Since ours is original research, changes will come as we see persons and events more clearly.

            In volume one, we deconstructed a myth based on Russell’s Adventist associations, introducing our readers to Literalist belief and its influence. The last chapter of volume two discusses the place of Christian Mysticism in the broader movement and within the Watch Tower movement especially. We will not give this the space given to Literalists. Its influence, while distinctive, was narrow. We want to explain it in a few paragraphs without leaving our readers puzzled, outraged, or with many unanswered questions.

            Christian Mysticism is rooted in First Century sects. Paul speaks of them with disfavor. I believe one of the Seven Letters (in Revelation) does as well. But we start with the late 18th Century. The 1790s were closer in time to our story than World War I is to us. We take this narrative up to Russell’s personal experience. Striking a balance between needed detail and equally needed brevity is difficult. I may need a double dose of hot coffee and chocolate!

            Christian Mystics invariable urged chiliastic belief. The principal actors in our story had first hand contact with mystical belief, rejecting most of it, but adopting its characteristic belief in specially appointed last-days messengers.

            So … we have a partial first draft of this section. It’s interesting but needs work –

both more research and clarification. This, more than most of our story, will need unquestionable clarity. It will make some uncomfortable and unhappy. (We seem to have that effect on some.) Because Christian Mysticism is often associated with “spirit manifestations” and prophecy, we want to clearly define the very narrow way it touched believers in the 1870-1890 period. I don’t want the point misused by polemicists or rejected by current adherents. I want a “just the facts, ma’am,” clearly stated, unequivocal explanation.

            Writing is hard work.

            Current historiographic practice is to rehash all the analysis done by others. This is a carry over from dissertation writing. A rehash proves that you consulted all the appropriate material. Unfortunately, (or conveniently, depending on your viewpoint) it allows writers to escape responsibility for their opinions. Reflexive, passive voice writing plagues academic writing. We avoid passive voice and third person reflexive writing. It’s poor work, even if it is the standard among British and UK influenced academics. We assume responsibility for our conclusions. We won’t blame others for them, and if we share them with those who preceded us we will credit them or note the similarity. But we avoid the long “he said, they said, it said” summaries characteristic of many writers.

            In this last chapter we are forced to review the research of others to a greater extent than usual. I wish there was an alternative. There isn’t. We confront opinions widely held by sociologists (who think of themselves as scientists because they love graphs and charts) and historians of the millennialist movements. When applied to the movements we consider, some of their theories are partially correct. Others are wholly false but accepted uncritically by four or five generations of writers. They are, what ever the quality of the theory, an issue we cannot avoid.

Writing Essentials
A pet, shape-shifting dragon for quick flights. Chocolate. Fun Toys. A sharp sword, Armor.

American Soldier - World War I

Pixie in the Back Garden

Friday, August 01, 2014

Hungarian Soldier in the Great War

Harry's Grandfather.

The War

Americans were not in favor of this war. They did not support the British, were ambivalent toward the French, and did not see American interests in the conflict. 

Stupid German foreign office pronouncements, inflammatory British propaganda republished by Democrat leaning papers such as the New York Times and out right lies altered opinion. Despite the appearance of national unity on the War, it did not exist. 

America’s president was an inexperienced academic, a racist, and a fool. He failed to balance public opinion, but used British propaganda to draw the United States into this useless war. 

America was from 1865 to 1935 on the verge of war with the UK. America’s interests were not with “England.” American sympathy toward Germany was killed by ham handed German politicians.
The war was transmuted from a local conflict to a world war by worse British decisions. That this war became a world war is Britain’s fault. American interest in 1914 rested in neutrality or with Germany. It was an economic war. Greed, as it always does, drove British political decisions. And French politics. The US fought on the wrong side, and would not have if Democrat newspapers and a Democrat president hadn’t promoted British lies.

As you listen to this video, you will find the remnants of British propaganda, wrong headed claims still parroted by English writers.

The Yanks Are Coming

Belgian Soldiers - Early 1915

So ... That's a boy?

So ... This is Kansas?

Austrian Soldiers - 1915

Italian Soldiers - World War I