Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Favorite Scenes From A Century Of Cinema - 11

Anthony Burgess published his novel,  A Clockwork Orange, in 1962. Nine years later Stanley Kubrick wrote, directed, and produced an adaptation on film. It was based on the American publication, a version with a significantly different conclusion. Burgess came to regret having two versions of the novel. Furthermore, he grew to despise the film because he spent most of his remaining life - he died in 1993 - having to deal with its controversial ending. Regardless, Stanley Kubrick's effort brought popularity to the novel and a disquieting sense of the reality of violence and dystopia that has crept into Western civilization in the last forty years.

A Clockwork Orange is an essential experience for film buffs. It is a violent, repulsive, and frightening interpretation of the evil that lurks in our world.

If the film is "too much" for readers, they may enjoy the soundtrack. It is most entertaining, full of great classical music and some of earliest synthesized music composed and performed by Walter Carlos who later "transitioned" to Wendy Carlos. Carlos also composed music for The Shining (1980), another Kubrick film, and for the Walt Disney production, Tron (1982).

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Late Winter Music

A rather messy weather system swept through Georgia overnight. Tornadoes were a possibility on the coast. Heavy winds and rains were very real everywhere. By evening the sun broke through high overcast to illuminate scud racing out of the south and a variety of other clouds roaring from the southwest and west.  A dead calm filled the bare orange-blazed trees. It was a minimal and beautiful moment, perfect for late winter music:

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Daniel's Bar Mitzvah: So Kosher For Me

Taylor Bigler, Entertainment Editor, The Daily Caller, has posted what she calls "the greatest Bar Mitzvah invitation of all time." No argument here, friends. It's not only an invitation with top-shelf production values, it's also a quality ad for Atlanta's tourism industry, AND IT'S A RAP EVEN OTR CAN ENJOY. Let's hope Daniel has reserved Turner Field for May 11, 2013 - Fernbank won't cut it. That a lot of Coke and Bacardi. Oy vey!.    

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Real George Washington's Birthday

George Washington                                                               Gilbert Stuart, 1796

We had a federal holiday on Monday of this week commemorating Washington's birthday, but it was simply another one of those government manipulations to provide us with three-day weekends. Washington was actually born on February 22  Perhaps a few days don't matter much in a nation that has lost its appreciation for history and reality over the past decades. Still, there are some personalities and events worthy of authentic remembrance. George Washington, fondly recalled as the Father of His Country, is one of them. Here is what Scott Johnson (Instapundit) has to say about the subject:

Of all the great men of the revolutionary era to whom we owe our freedom, Washington's greatness was the rarest and most needed.  At this remove in time it is also the hardest to comprehend.

Today as we contend with the contemporary equivalent of "the Babylonish empire," let us send up our thanks to the Ancient of Days for this indispensable man.

Johnson originally posted his comment in 2006. Read the rest his his remarks here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Favorite Scenes From A Century Of Cinema - 10

Has to be one of the best Bond films.

Monday, February 18, 2013

George Washington's Birthday

George Washington's birthplace - the original site is in the foreground

Today is a federal holiday, but you would be making a mistake if you thought it was Presidents Day. Officially, it is George Washington's Birthday. The retail world would like you to believe it is Presidents Day so they can relieve you of  hard-earned cash by compelling you to buy something "on sale," a something that is more likely to be a want than a need. All retail ranting aside, this is a day to remember a rather remarkable man for his time. Learn more about him at the following sources:

George Washington Birthplace National Monument

Fort Necessity National Battlefield

Valley Forge National Historical Park

Independence National Historical Park

George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate, Museum, and Gardens

Washington Monument

George Washington Masonic Memorial

In 1747, when Washington was 15 years old, he accompanied his friend, George William Fairfax, on a surveying expedition to the Virginia - now West Virginia - frontier and the headwaters of Patterson Creek, a tributary of the South Branch of the Potomac River. OTR got to know a thousand feet of Patterson Creek intimately over the span of  a quarter century. The creek was a great source of recreation, leisure, study and contemplation. It was a powerful force in shaping his future. He learned of Washington's trip there long after he'd left the place, but he still thinks about what it would have been like sitting on the creek bank in 1960 and suddenly seeing a teenage boy in colonial dress come slogging around the bend. The creek still talks about their imaginary conversation. If you listen carefully you can hear both.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Asteroid 2012 DA14 May Have Sent Us A Visitor

There was a spectacular meteorite in the Russian Urals a few hours ago.  There are reports of damage on the ground and panic in nearby cities. The videos and stills included in this story posted on Drudge are stunning. Authorities have suggested this event is related to the near-Earth pass by Asteroid 2012 DA14 that will occur later this morning.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Happy Valentine's Day Favorite Scene From A Century Of Cinema - 9

The closing scene from Cinema Paradiso (1988).

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Fugitive Left-Wing Moonbat Dorner Will Soon Be Eliminated

Christopher Dorner, the leftist ex-cop who went wacko in California last week, is now holed up in a mountain cabin and surrounded by law enforcement. OTR doubts he'll want to be taken alive. When the story breaks about his termination it will be most interesting to see how the leftist establishment/state media treat one of their sympathizers.

A Lincoln-Gershwin Day

Leave it to William Katz, our participant-observer at Urgent Agenda, to illustrate the value of being a generalist who knows a lot about a lot of things. You'd expect that of someone who could work for the CIA,   be a comedy writer, and a novelist, among other "things." Today, he reminds us that February 12 is the real birthday of Abraham Lincoln. In the next breath, he tells us that this date also marks the premiere of George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. Both of these disparate events were world-changing in scope. Here's his post  about a day where political history meets jazz.

Most Americans know Lincoln's significant writings rather well. OTR doubts that is so for Gershwin. To correct that musical deficiency, here is a June 10, 1924 recording of Gershwin performing an abridged Rhapsody in Blue with Paul Whiteman and his band. It's as close to the premiere performance as we'll ever get and a full jazz expression as intended by the composer and conductor. The piece has certainly matured into something quite different over the past ninety years.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Don't Drink The Water: Sound Advice For Over 9000 Years

The Brewer, a 16th century engraving by J Amman
Those readers who already enjoy beer likely don't need more reasons to consume what has become one of the top drinks in the world. But leave it to science and what do we have but another justification to forgo the water and pull a pint of your favorite beer. Hank Campbell has all of the details along with several interesting links in his Science 2.0 post.  Beer and civilization have gone hand in hand for almost 9000 years, and there's plenty of archaeological evidence of even earlier fermented beverages. OTR suspects most readers have already heard about beer as a safe drink, but it's Campbell's science that makes this post pretty interesting, even to an armchair microbiologist. Read the article and you'll understand why.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Passages - The Greatest Generation

Hallie (1914-2012)
In the past three months, OTR has lost his last two direct links to the Greatest Generation. The first was Hallie who died in Lewistown, Pennsylvania, in early November, one month from her 98th birthday. She was, along with her husband. Ormal, his parents' closest friend from their years in West Virginia, from the 1940s through the late 1960s. In 1950 when OTR was four years old, Hallie and Ormal built their "cottage" - really a summer home - in Burlington, West Virginia. Loyal readers know how important the place is in  his life. He remembers vividly of playing on the sub-floor before the framing was erected, as well as the twenty years of experiences inside that would help shape his person and career. But a structure is merely a shell for the personalities that dwell within it. And Hallie was an exceptional personality. She was a loyal spouse who stood by her husband through a progressively successful career in retail management. She raised two fine children and contributed to the betterment of her community whether it be old or new. She was a consistent driver balanced with a sensitive and realistic approach to people and their circumstances. When times called for it, she could embarrass a sailor. Overriding all was her remarkable sense of humor. Smiles and laughter never left her although they had been tempered by her acceptance that she was the last of the old friends and had come to dearly miss her husband who died almost forty years earlier.

Aunt Violet (1921-2013)
His second loss was Aunt Violet, the last surviving member of his mother's immediate family. Violet was 91. She spent her life in the Potomac River Valley in West Virginia where the Ridge and Valley province meets the Appalachian Plateau. What the region has lacked in prosperity of late has always been made up by its natural beauty. It was a fine place to raise a family, and that she did - two beautiful daughters - with her husband, Bub. One of the daughters, Linda, and OTR were the closest of playmates and friends in childhood until his family moved to the Eastern Shore in 1956 when he was nine.  In those years, Violet often had to protect her daughter from the roughhousing one would expect from a boy. OTR's unsure when Aunt Violet first called him  "Nellie's little darling,"- an only and apparently indulged  child of older parents - but it stuck and has been mentioned to joyous laughter at every opportunity for several decades. Even in separation, for the next twenty years not one would pass without at least a shared vacation or several extended weekends together.

Violet was blessed with far more than humor though it alone would have been a fine gift in her hands. She was full of kindness, generosity and love until illness in the last few weeks slowly closed in on her world.  Of all the memories OTR could have of his mother and Violet, the fondest will always be the distant conversations, laughter and wonderful aromas pouring out of their respective kitchens. Love was at work there.

To OTR, Hallie and Violet were the last of their kind. They survived a crushing depression and a world war by young adulthood. As devoted wives, they were homemakers who did their part to raise fine children in an era of great national prosperity, opportunity, and challenge. And both survived to enjoy long, comfortable, and independent retirements near to family and friends. Simply put, they were the greatest, and they will be missed.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Favorite Scenes From A Century Of Cinema - 8

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World was released in 2003. Although it was adapted from three historical novels by Patrick O'Brian, the film was a tour de force in its authentic and accurate depiction of naval warfare during the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815). Master and Commander won two Academy Awards out of its ten nominations, losing in the remaining categories - including Best Picture -  to Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

February 2: A Lot More Than Groundhog Day

American Groundhog                                      John James Audubon (1785-1851)

Gen. Beauregard Lee emerged from his home outside Atlanta this morning to see a definitive shadow and predict six more weeks of winter. That other groundhog up north came away with a different interpretation. OTR would be only too happy to let winter rip across the South for three more weeks.  And speaking of interpretations, February 2 seems to have an inordinately large number of associations as do many of those "pagan" days in our calendar. What a difference a day makes:

Groundhog Day; and,

World Wetlands Day; and,

Candlemas, or the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple; and,

Feast of the Purification of the Virgin; and,

Imbolc, the first cross-quarter day of the year; and closely associated with,

St. Brigid's Day: and,

a scattering of additional national holidays and lesser feast days.

As February 2 comes to a close, we should be left with a completely unreliable winter weather forecast, all of our Christmas decorations neatly packed for next season, an enhanced understanding of the meaning of the number "40" in Judeo-Christian history, an introduction to the nexus of culture and cosmology, some knowledge of early Irish history, and an appreciation of the most biologically diverse ecosystem on the planet.

OTR intends to ponder all of this, drink in hand, in a silent conversation with the faces in the fire. We'll remark on this cross-quarter day that Winter's cold now gives way to the promise of Spring. Better that than relying on predictions from a titled marmot living in a Colonial Revival mini-mansion.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Time To Escape The Cold

Having fun on Florida's fine beaches

Tonight, temps in the Atlanta suburbs will dip into the low 20s. It's the coldest yet this winter, and a reminder of those wonderful and regular getaways to tropical Florida when OTR could throw everything he owned into a Camaro. The opportunities to enjoy nature and recreation were just about endless.