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Saturday, October 31, 2015

About Halloween

"A man who doesn't know death doesn't know life." 
Lionel Barrymore as Otto Kringelein
Grand Hotel
...To be honest, the character was quite drunk in this scene...
then he loses his pocketbook and falls apart...
Kringelein brings "cringe" to mind...
then John Barrymore returns the pocketbook that he - the phony Baron - stole from Kringelein in the first place.....
and Garbo plays Grusinskaya, a rather hefty ballerina....



It used to be called Samhain by the ancient Celts, a word we used to pronounce SahVAIN when I was a kid, but the references on the Internet say SahWEEN or SahWINE or some such. Most people just ignore it altogether.

The custom of carving pumpkins goes back to Celts carving beetroots - betteraves - and sometimes illuminating them.
In Lorraine, beetroots were also carved on Toussaint in a celebration called Nuit des Betteraves Grimaçantes (Night of the Grimacing Beetroots).

 (note:   Toussaint is the Feast of All Hallows, November 1. The quote probably should say that the beetroots were "carved on the eve of Toussaint".)

The Irish brought the custom over to North America, judiciously choosing the much easier to carve pumpkin instead of the more solid beetroot.

 Beetroot Carvings

The carved face certainly resemble heads or skulls. Certainly, the Headless Horseman of Washington Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow appeared to have a carved pumpkin jack o'lantern for a head or skull:

There is not much difference between the carved heads and the fabricated skulls of sugar provided for children on El Dia de Muertos:

The connection seems even closer when we consider that the beetroots, betteraves, were sugar beet roots.

There seems to have been a conflation between Halloween in the autumn and the Walpurgisnacht or Heksennacht of the springtime. This was sort of a witches' night and all that implies. So I suppose that is what Pat Robertson is talking about when he says that Halloween is Satanism.

It's funny, but this morning when I started to read about Halloween, I remembered a dream I had about a Vodou flag of Baron Samedi wrapped and laid within a drawer. He looked like Idris Elba in a black tuxedo and wearing a top hat. This was appliqueed on a background of azure, all set within green.
He was smoking a cigar.



Happy Halloween from the Matson Lines, the most comfortable way to the Sandwich Islands.


Skyscraper City



Friday, October 30, 2015

La Livre De Ma Tante Est Sur La Table

While reading some goodies at the Bay-N-Eff .... BnF, that is the Bibliothèque nationale de France, I came across this cenotaph for Sir Isaac Newton designed by Étienne-Louis Boullée:

Memorial Newton at Night 

And it reminds me of design by Vincent Korda for the film Things To Come, and of designs by Norman Bel Geddes for the New York World's Fair of 1939, even though Bel Geddes did not design the Perisphere, which was done by Harrison and Fouilhoux.


This is Yokoyama's interpretation of the Newton Memorial:

People scurrying up the inclined ramps for whatever purposes.

Contrails Of Anger

Please Fasten Your Seatbelts. There Is Some Light Turbulence Ahead.

She-who-must-be-obeyed recently flew back home from Baltimore on October 24. She was in the TSA line for 1 1/2 hours.

It was not clear why this happened; there was no highly visible memorial of terrorism...
Terrorism, like the French Revolution in the late 18th and the 19th century, which Shelly said had become "the master theme of the epoch"!

There was no reported "chatter" or Facebook and Twitter cabals plotting anything in and around Maryland. Nothing.

People were yelling and crying.
"What time is your flight?"
"Would you let me cut in? Mine is at 9:40!  PLEASE!"

People were running around, holding their shoes in their hands, yelling for kids, stepping on Skittles and hopping around, trying to slip their shoes back on.
And some old guys had to have removed their belts, so they rushed around, trying to hold up their britches, hopping, threading belts... it sounded a bit like Brown Shirt Juden Wilde Jagd in the streets of Kracow...

I asked if she considered putting a price on her place in line.
The TSA sort of reminds me of the Fire Department of Fahrenheit 451 as rendered in Manga, not Brown Shirts. It doesn't matter. No one knows who the Brown Shirts were anymore.

Anyway, the TSA frowned and smiled.
They said that the problems were nothing; just wait until Thanksgiving and Christmas!

The contrails of anger and rage float like smog above the country.
Pretty soon we won't be going places anymore.
We do not go to Canada as often as we used to because it can be such a hassle coming back into the land of the free, home of the etc.


The European Union Dreams Of The House Of Hapsburg...

L’Europe n’existe pas, sauf par sa monnaie unique
Michel Onfray, un mec à gros cerveau.
( [a united, single] Europe does not exist, except in common currency)

Quite simply, it may be argued that the European Union grew too fast in the past 25 years.
It could barely keep up with NATO's growing pains.

The European Union should have kept its original focus for a bit longer and doubled down in its attempt to create a true union whose differences create a sum greater than its parts, and that would act as a beacon to the world.

Instead, we have a creature that resembles Austria-Hungary, made up of numerous nationalities with little common mentality and sympathy anymore.
In fact, the refugee crisis mirrors the constituents of the Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary rather vividly, for the German-speaking element of the Monarchy actually made meaningful strides in incorporating the various nationalities into a nation (after having resisted such a revolutionary idea for hundreds of years, to be sure.), whereas Hungary, however, ignored even its own laws to extend political rights and oppressed - rather with glee - the mostly Slavic minorities within its kingdom.

One may see a vague parallel here between the attitude towards refugees of Angela Merkel versus that of Viktor Orbán, the Prime Minister of Hungary.

How may Marcel Proust - a man born in Auteil and speaking and writing French and born into the Roman Catholic faith - come to terms with Franz Kafka - a Czech born in Prague of Jewish descent and writing and speaking German - and with Bela Balasz - Jewish, Hungarian, German?

Es werde eine Verwandlung - It will be a Metamorphosis.

The [Oval] Office?

The character of Ted Cruz was sketched out based on Meredith Palmer...


Les Trahison Des Traducteurs

© REUTERS/ Bulent Kilic/Pool

Translators may slant things by their choice of words.
It stands to reason. The original speakers themselves slant things by their choice of the original words that they utter, so the translator, too. It is the job of the translator to try and catch the slant, the original spin, that the words were given.

Soooo.... I don't particularly like President Erdogan of Turkey.

However, having said that and knowing that this bit of animus exists, still I would still try to faithfully translate this report on the refugee crisis as follows:


La Turquie, "zone tampon" à migrants pour Bruxelles?


Does Turkey Act As The European Union's Buffer Zone For Refugees?

and not use some other less faithful but more outrageous translation.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Demon Rum

I {heart!} Tumul!

Tumul is a SIberian village that gave up alcohol.
It made me think of the film Cold Turkey where Eagle Rock, Iowa tries to give up smoking for 30 days, but Tumul had bigger things in mind than a satire on the Tobacco industry and its victims.

What happened when a Siberian village gave up alcohol?
By Olga Gertcyk
28 September 2015
In 2012, the residents of Tumul all stopped drinking vodka and other intoxicating drinks as the village went dry...

Interesting reading.

I noticed that the finish line at the foot race says "FINISH" written in Cyrillic characters. I was surprised. I never got that close to a finish line.


The [Oval] Office?

Ex-candidate Scott Walker of Wisconsin

is clearly based on Kevin


What's Up With Churyumov-Gerasimenko These Days?

Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko (photo: ESA)

From ESA (European Space Agency):
Rosetta has made the first detection of molecular oxygen at a comet. The results presented in this graphic are based on data collected by the Rosetta Orbiter Spectrometer for Ion and Neutral Analysis Double-Focusing Mass Spectrometer (ROSINA-DFMS) between September 2014 and March 2015 when Rosetta was still on the approach to the Sun along its orbit...

Read the rest at the link given.

The [Oval ] Office?

On the eerie similarity of the Republican candidates to the cast of The Office:

And is not Chris Christie a uncanny double for ol' Roy Anderson, the one-time fiance of Pam Beesly?

They look alike and act alike.


Archaeology, Achaemenids, And Pope Francis

Iran's Book News Agency:
Pope’s speech inscribed on a Persian document 2500 years ago
Publish Date : Friday 16 October 2015 - 23:45
According to IBNA correspondent, the commemoration ceremony of Professor Sadeq (Shapur) Malek Shahmirzadi, the prominent Iranian archaeologist, was held on Wednesday, October 14, 2015, at the National Museum of Iran in collaboration with the Archaeological Research Institute of Iran’s Cultural Heritage Organization...

At the beginning, Malek Shahmirzadi stated: “This is a session of archaeology and history. Please let me choose my own example from this field to tell you about. We Iranians have a written document that is 2500 years old which is recognized by UNESCO as a world record, and that is the inscription of the Achaemenid King Darius at Behistun.
The document begins with three words; great is God, Ahura Mazda. Why is God great? Because he has granted me this land, the people and joy and bestowed on me whatever is good.”

He further continued: “At the end, Darius asks God for three things. He appeals to God to keep this land and people safe from three plagues of war, drought and lies.”

“It was late September when Pope Francis, the leader of the Catholics of the world, delivered a speech in the United Nations, addressing the representatives of 190 countries present and said ‘avoid war’. This is while Darius had prayed for the same thing for us 2500 years ago. In his speech, Pope spoke of drought and the threat of greenhouse gases and urged politicians not to tell lies,” the archaeology scholar added.


This is the logo for the Iran's Book News Agency.
I never studied Farsi, but it uses the Arabic script with a few additions; the word "book" on the right is pretty clear:  kitaab.


Continuous Transportation: General Jubal A. Early

Un État de Transport Continu
inspiré par le film Transperceneige

The automobile ferry General Jubal A. Early. It is a cable ferry, using a wire cable to pull it across the river.

These photos were taken 10/21/2015 and the ferry is fitted out with some Halloween decorations, such as ghosts floating from some rigging.

White's Ferry is the only cable ferry service that carries cars, bicycles, and pedestrians across the Potomac River. White's Ferry is located at 39°9′17.26″N 77°31′13.50″W. The location offers fishing services and rentals of water recreation including canoeing. The street address for the terminal on the Maryland side is 24801 White's Ferry Road, Dickerson, Maryland 20842.


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The iPhone

She-who-must-be-obeyed received a brand-new iPhone, so I inherited the older version, which took the place of my 2001 Nokia with a teddy bear logo on the screen (I inherited that phone from my daughter when she upgraded and I dismissed my old Nextel.)

 Answer the phone, wouldja!? I'm busy!"

I was fond of the Nextel sort of walkie-talkie ability that we made great use of in business. Progress is inexorable in its march to greater things, sort of a Die Welt ist mein Feldt  ethos that turns a more service oriented Mein Feldt ist die Welt on its blooming head.
(Die Welt ... "the world is my field, which gives an idea of unstoppable autocracy versus Mein Feldt ... "my field is the world", which gave the notion of service to the world, which is where the idea came from, being used on the bow figure of the SS Imperator of the Hamburg America Line while she traversed the Atlantic Ocean.)

I got the Nokia and signed up with T-Mobile until October, 2015. I was always pay-as-you-go, and it was commonplace to run out of minutes at the worst possible time.

So I have an iPhone now, one of the classics, to be sure, to be sure.  I like my cellular phones the way the residents of Havana like their cars: classic.  Everything old-timey.
Just yesterday I was at Bishop Airport in Flint and I fancied I was driving with dynamic airflow and wearing a grey fedora. I had some sort of 1940s pipe in my pocket. I drove into Bishop, parked at the phone lot waiting to be summoned, the call came, I pulled out and drove to the terminal in 70 seconds whereupon I slid right into the Southwest section, grabbed a few club bags, stowed them, esteemed She-who-must-be-obeyed, and drove off to the exit which was 120 second away.
From there I drove to the expressway (or limited access road, as we say) which was two red lights and 4 minutes down the pike.
Home was 36 miles and 40 minutes away. Traffic was light.

 Bishop Airport, Flint, Michigan

I have many bells and whistles on my iPhone, as you all undoubtedly know.
I set an alarm to sound at 4 bells this morning to remind me to get the garbage ready to set outside. The alarm was some sort of gizmo-sound accompanied by buzzing and vibration.

Since I was writing, I never even heard it.

I vaguely remember hearing the iPhone sitting right next to me vibrating and buzzing, and vaguely wondering what the devil the blasted thing was up to now.


Continuous Transportation: CMBA Blogathon On Trains, Planes, And Automobiles

Un État de Transport Continu
inspiré par le film Transperceneige

picture: cmba

The Classic Movie Blog Association (CMBA)  has just finished another blogathon on classic films having Transport as an important part of the story, if not the main theme itself.

For example, the blog Outspoken and Freckled did a post on the James Cagney film Taxi (1932).

All the participants are members of the CMBA and the entries are good introductions to the films cited, or serve as great focus on areas of the cinematic group effort that we may have overlooked.
And example comes from the post on Taxi mentioned above:
...Funny duo Stone and Bennett as Skeet and Ruby are a quirky pair that provide witty breaks throughout. Dry cynicism with a nasal dead-pan Bennett especially, as she’s given generous latitude of lines to ramble on nonsensically, yet it delivers. Ruby to Skeet: “C’mon I feel like being bored and you can do the job better than anybody I know.”

I wish I had said that line.

picture: cmba


Philosophical Krusty


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Purple Rose Of Cairo Corner: The 50 Foot Woman

Clips from the 50 Foot Woman's audition for Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window.

The part she was auditioning for eventually went to Thelma Ritter.


New Afghan Rugs

The prices are not too bad...

Bombers and fighters:

Historical studies:

and the World Trade Center, where it all started in our consciousness:

 photo: warrug

Alberta Blinks

Back when Uranium was King, Uranium City in Saskatchewan, Canada was booming. Then the uranium mine closed, and everyone was out of work and the uranium boom was over.

With the new normal low price of oil, the bottom has fallen out of the oil-from-tar-sands market, and it is Alberta, Canada's turn to see where the garbage crew tossed the dust bin of history last time they went through.

When you see pictures like these of the haunted settlements of Modernity, it brings to mind the term "deconstruction"...

It also brings to mind the horror film Chernobyl Diaries

and other areas of the Cernobyl Exclusion Zone

In a few years, maybe soon Canadian film maker will make a Tar Sands Monster flick!

photos 1-4:


Dancing WIth Dinosaurs: Week One



Sunday, October 25, 2015

Continuous Transportation: Cuban Chrome

Un État de Transport Continu
inspiré par le film Transperceneige


The Jewel In The Crown: Lady Manners And Parvati

Actually, it if the first prize winning photo in the 2015  Wiki Loves Earth contest. It is Lake Kachura, Pakistan, and not India after all.

But it does make one watch for Lady Manners, Daphne's aunt, floating on her house boat with Daphne's and Hari's child, Parvati. One also fears lest one run into the insufferable Mrs. Layton.


The Revolt Of The Parking Lots: Sumeria

Gilgamesh statue at Sydney University (Samantha/Flickr/Creative Commons)


Iraqi Museum Discovers Missing Lines From the Epic of Gilgamesh
One of the world's first great stories just got a new chapter
By Marissa Fessenden     October 7, 2015

It's not unusual for fantasy epics to endure for years. (Right, Game of Thrones fans?) But even George R.R. Martin would be shocked to learn about the century-and-a-half wait for a new chapter of the Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the world's oldest written stories. The Sulaymaniyah Museum in Iraq has discovered 20 new lines to the ancient Babylonian poem, writes Ted Mills for Open Culture.

The Epic of Gilgamesh, which dates back to 18th century B.C., was pieced together from fragments that tell the story of a Sumerian king who travels with a wild companion named Enkidu. As Mills explains, scholars were well aware that new fragments of the poem could possibly turn up — modern readers are most familiar with a version discovered in Nineveh in 1853 — and during the war in Iraq, as looters pillaged ancient sites, they finally did. The Sulaymaniah Museum acquired the tablet in 2011, as part of a collection purchased from a smuggler, according to Osama S.M. Amin at Ancient History Et Cetera:


The previously available text made it clear that [Gilgamesh] and Enkidu knew, even before they killed Humbaba, that what they were doing would anger the cosmic forces that governed the world, chiefly the god Enlil. Their reaction after the event is now tinged with a hint of guilty conscience, when Enkidu remarks ruefully that … "we have reduced the forest [to] a wasteland."


At this point, I self-effacingly note that I, too, have studied Ancient Sumerian, and many a wedgie (cuneiform) did I read.  The word used for "wasteland" in the last paragraph cited is also used for "parking lot" !    (And sometimes for "used car lot", but that is a rare variant.)

It makes one wonder if Joni Mitchell also read Sumerian at University.

The Crocodile Shrine Of Karachi

Devotees pray at the grave while visiting the shrine of Hasan-al-Maroof Sultan Manghopir,
better known as the crocodile shrine, on the outskirts of Karachi. —Reuters

Pilgrims flock to crocodile shrine as Taliban threat recedes
Reuters — Published Oct 16, 2015 12:12am

KARACHI: The lean days appear to be over for Mor Sahib, an 87-year-old crocodile venerated by Pakistan's tiny Sheedi community, as pilgrims once again flock to a shrine in Karachi that has been shunned for years amid fears of Taliban attacks.

The pilgrims are Sheedis, whose ancestors came from Africa and are drawn from different sects, making them a potential target for hardline militants.

Their new-found confidence coincides with a major crackdown on crime and militancy by paramilitary Rangers in the port city of 20 million people where the shrine is located, which has seen murder levels drop sharply.

Caretaker feeds crocodiles at the Sufi shrine of Hasan-al-Maroof Sultan Manghopir, 
better known as the Crocodile Shrine, on the outskirts of Karachi. —Reuters


Thursday, October 15, 2015

The "Protector" Of The Two Noble Mosques

Saudi youth Ali al-Nimr faces the death penalty for taking part in pro-reform protests (photo by

Sometimes the Saudi ruling elite gives the impression that they are purifying themselves with blood, not water

الوضوء بالدم

After releasing a plague of catastrophes upon the pilgrims on the Hajj, we see more of their doings:

Mother of Saudi youth facing beheading urges Obama to intervene

The mother of a youth facing beheading for taking part in protests in Saudi Arabia has pleaded with US President Barack Obama to "rescue my son" in an interview published by the British daily the Guardian Thursday.
The sentence against Ali al-Nimr, a Shiite Muslim who was only 17 when he was arrested in February 2012, has drawn international condemnation over his young age and allegations that he was tortured into making a confession.

"When I visited my son for the first time I didn't recognise him," Nusra al-Ahmed told the newspaper.

"I could clearly see a wound on his forehead. Another wound on his nose. They disfigured it. Even his body, he was too thin.

"For a month he was peeing blood," she added. "He said he felt like a mass of pain, his body was no more."

In an interview with AFP last month, his father Mohammed al-Nimr said he hoped the king would save his son and warned that if his son is put to death the minority Shiite community could react violently.

Mother Nusra al-Ahmed called the sentence -- which she said would involve her son being crucified after he is decapitated -- "backwards in the extreme"...

And just yesterday I read of the terror of the Afghan peoples in the areas where ISIS is fighting even the Taliban. They said that no Jew nor Christian ever afflicted Muslims with such terrors and violence.

Of course, the ISIS troops espouse the Wahhabi version of Islamic practice, the true horror of rational fiqh - the human understanding of Shari'a as has been spread throughout the world by the oil money of the Saudi elite.

To paraphrase William Jennings Bryan, "You shall not crucify mankind upon this Cross of Oil!"

 American cartoon by Grant Hamilton, 1896, on William Jennings Bryan's ' Cross of Gold' speech at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, which won Bryan the presidential nomination.