The creative writing, observations, experiences, and opinions, on life, and the world around him, by Kiril Kundurazieff; taking one step at a time on the Journey of Discovery, and Enlightenment, that every individual must take from the cradle to the grave.
Originally I had intended to spend the whole 10 days with relatives in VA., but upon learning how easy it would be to go to DC, and how much cheaper the plane flight home from there would be, I found a Hostel to hunker down in, and spent the second half of my vacation in the Capitol of this great nation of ours.
After settling in at my Hostel, near Dupont Circle, I headed out on my first order of business.
A visit to Arlington National Cemetary.
Why choose Arlington as my first stop?
Because if it was not for the sacrifices of these brave patriot men, and women, there would be no America as we know it, and no Washington DC, for this grateful American to visit.
As I walk down the avenue to the entrance I avoid looking toward the graves until I'm back out the other side of the Visitor Center with a map in hand.
Arlington gets 4 million visitors a year, and each one has a reason deeply personal, and unique, to them:
The child, or teen who is dragged reluctantly along by parents, and discovers, for the first time, that an ancestor or two are buried here, thus turning a boring side trip into a life changing experience.
Another child, or teen, coming with relatives, to bury, or pay respects to, a mother, father, or sibling lost in service to our nation.
People coming to pay respects to, or bury friends, not just family.
History, and art buffs coming for the chance to walk through history, and explore the headstones, and monuments, for what they say, and for their architecture.
Genealogists, both amatuer, and professional.
The reasons are many.
People of all races and religions, from Union and Confederate brave to the current conflicts in the Middle East, and even 63 foreign nationals, are buried here.
Explorers, astronauts, and famous historical, literary, and medical figures, including 8 Associate Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, are buried here as well.
Nearly 100 burials are conducted each week, Monday through Friday.
As I walked around I saw many active duty members of the military with members of their family, and I saw older vets wearing medals from their service days.
The sight that greets your eyes, as you finally begin to explore the grounds, is breathtaking, sobering, and humbling.
Row upon row of markers, intersected by streets that take the visitor, on foot, or by tourmobile, all over the cemetary.
Here lie buried, side by side, officers, and common servicemen, and servicewomen, of all branches of the military, the famous, and the unknown, most marked by plain white markers, many by older, more elaborate, granite, marble, and stone markers.
It was my 2nd time this year, and this time I was much closer to the stage, giving me a different perspective of the proceedings.
The early May performance involved a two-fer:
The Great Russian conductor, and violinist, Vladimir Spivakov conducted AND played.
The program consisted of 2 Mozarts (A concerto and a Symphony), and a Shostakovich Symphony, and the Mozarts reminded me why I love Classical Music so much, and why, in my high school playing days, this Second Violinist snitched copies of the First Violin sheet music, and made copies to play at home. ;-D
I arrived early to get my ticket, and to attend what turned out to be a very entertaining, and informative Preview talk given by Alan Chapman.
He was a child prodigy who, in his teens, grew into an accomplished violinist, and player of other instruments, and became the great composer we all know and love.
Mr. Chapman's talk revealed to us that Mozart finished writing all 5 of his Violin Concertos by the age of 19.
Show off! ;-D
As he wrote these pieces he was moving beyond the traditional Baroque Styles of the day, and marching to his own tune.
While a few others had forged the early version of the Classical Style, he became one of the two composers best known for music of this variety (His friend-to-be Joseph Haydn being the other).
The Violin Concerto #2 in D Major, K 211, from 1775 was, according to Mr. Chapman, the most "French" of the 5.
I hope you are sitting down when you read this next sentence: Mozart had alread composed a bunch of Symphonies by the time he composed the above piece.
Like I said...show off! ;-D
The Symphony #29 in A Major, K. 201, from 1774, was one of his great "early" Symphonies, and was one of 4 written in a two year periond that, according to Mr. Chapman, was the culmination of a new maturity he had been heading toward since the age of 16.
I don't don't know what that means, exactly, but I'll take his word for it. ;-D
Mr. Chapman's entertaining way of telling his story made for a rousing final bit of preparation for the performance to come.
Shostakovich was 19 years old when he premiered his 1st Symphony with the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra, in 1925.
The Commies had been running things for only a few short years, when he wrote this piece, and his 2nd, very different Symphony for the 10th Anniversary of the "Glorious" Revolution in 1927.
When Mr. Chapman played excerpts of each I scratched my head, and mumbled "What the ****?" at the glaring differences.
The 3rd one was a May Day Celebration piece, as oddly sounding as the 2nd, and Mr. Chapman called them "youthful experiments that failed" as he struggles between becoming a Composer of the Proletariat, or something else entirely, something Stalin and friends might not be entirely pleased with.
So he starts writing Drama. ;-D
According to Mr. Chapman this pissed off Comrade Stalin.
The politics of his Macbeth, in 1936, were heartily denounced. ;-D
Symphony #4, from the same year, was not performed until 1961. ;-D
Not to be discouraged #5 came next, and is considered his first masterpiece for Orchestra, and the 6th, in 1939 sounds quite rythmic, even in a short excerpt.
He wrote #7 while Leningrad was under seige, in 1941, rising above the horror and despair to create a work that gets him called a National Hero for his trouble. ;-D
Getting into the spirit of the times (bloody, dark, and violent) his 8th, in 1943, was the darkest, and deepest yet, depicting a war machine in its 3rd movement and, according to Mr. Chapman, thus catching hell from Russian critics for its "naturalism".
Eric Karjala thinks the game of Backgammon is classy:
I can tell backgammon is a classy game because it often comes in a little briefcase, which is more than I can say for games of chance like chess. Sometimes I imagine commuting to work carrying my backgammon briefcase—who’s going to stop me? I have important business to attend to. It’s called playing backgammon.
Eric has been sharing thoughts, and observations, on the world we live in since 1999, and to think I just discovered his place tonite!
After the madness that was March, when I handled the blogging duties while Daddy went on vacation in VA. and DC ( 19 posts were mine! ), and capped it off by hosting Carnival of the Cats #211, I seriously needed a break, so took one...a long one. ;-D
While Daddy did some new things, subject-wise, on the blog, I rested, and recuperated, recharging my batteries for the future.
One of the things Daddy did was dig through boxes of stuff in the garage, and he found a bunch of 10 year old photos of me, AND my mentor, the Old Man, Tom, that we had both completely forgot about, and which brough back a flood of memories of the glory days of my kittenhood.
One thing we re-discovered was that my current Cat Tower, bought earlier this year, was NOT my 1st one, afterall.
It seems that I had the run of the one that belonged to Tom all those years ago, a tree that had to be tossed out by the end of the following year. ;-D
Trust me when I say that those old photos will blow you away, so stay tuned! ;-D
Anyway, I have big plans for the future, including another stint hosting the Carnival of the Cats, so I hope, dear reader, that your stop by from time to time, and even leave a comment or two. ;-D
One of the problems music continuity clubs face is the growing popularity of MP3 players, which give consumers access to music whenever they want it.
“Consumers want control of the process instead of the other way around, like it used to be,” Benjamin says. As a result, “continuity is in the process of reinvention” as clubs try to figure out how to give members more control. She points to HCI’s Silkies hosiery club, which now allows members to decide how often they want shipments as an example.
The growth of digital music is behind Bertelsmann’s decision to shut down the BMG Music Service club, company representatives said during its annual analyst meeting in March. The company’s US CD business fell in line with market declines in physical music sales, which dropped off by more than 20% in 2007, according to Bertelsmann. The US DVD club also didn’t perform well, and Bertelsmann is considering shutting it down, too. Book clubs, however, are relatively stable.
One of my favorite bloggers, La Shawn Barber, likes reading news like this. ;-D
I can’t articulate clearly why I like reading about things like this. I’ll try. Businesses have always depended on the habits and desires of consumers. But the proliferation and popularity of the digital music file (along with file sharing services) caught the music industry unawares. I’m fascinated that the majors are scrambling to figure out what’s going on and how to capitalize on it. They slept too long. They woke up, and the party was over.
So the sequel has finally arrived in theatres, eh?
I'll probably wait until Prince Caspian comes out on DVD. ;-D
When the original came out I had the opportunity to attend a free screening of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, at the AMC Theatre, at The Block of Orange.
All across the country Christian Churches were buying up whole screenings so that their parishners, and members of the community at large could see the film.
One such church was Elements Church, an Assembly of God Affiliated Congregation known as The Church at the Block.
It bought over 400 tickets for a showing one morning,, and aside from a brief introduction before the film, and a 5 minute "mini-sermon", with prayer, at the end, there was no discussion of the film, or attempt to thrust the Church into the filmgoers life.
I have never read any of the Narnia Books, but was aware of the Christian, or at least religious, themes of the series.
I am not the most religious of people, but do enjoy a good religiously themed film, and the occasional book.
From what I understand the books were not published in Chronological order of the events they tell about and, "If you're going to read them, the correct order is as follows: 1) The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, 2) Prince Caspian, 3)The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, 4) The Silver Chair, 5) The Horse and His Boy, 6) The Magician's Nephew, and 7) The Last Battle."
It seems that what order to read them is controversial to many.
Some say that reading them Chronologically...
1. The Magician's Nephew; 2. The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe; 3. The Horse and His Boy; 4. Prince Caspian; 5. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader; 6. The Silver Chair; 7. The Last Battle.
... "makes the books more strictly allegorical than they really were intended to be, and gives the impression that they are an extended allegory rather than incidental allusions."
I'll leave that to folks who have read them to squabble over as you can discover by reading the excellent book reviews on Amazon, and other sites.
Being a fan of Fantasy Films, and expecting this one to be a quality production of the genre, I looked forward to seeing it.
What follows is what I thought at the time, and my opinion has not changed after future viewings:
Unifomally quite good, especially Swindon as the Witch, and the 2 Boys.
The youngest child actor only had to run around smiling at everything she encountered, cry a few times, and then spoil the reality of the effects of w ( Ah, but I'll get to that ).
The other human actors made little impression in their moments on screen:
The loving Mom, the Housekeeper with a "Thorn up her Ass" attitude, and the Absent-minded Prof who, in the end, maybe knows more than he lets on.
The actor who played the Witches dwarf lacky was a hoot.
The Actor who played Santa was not playing him as the Jolly Ol' Elf, and that's a good thing.
The Animals, and the actors who played/voiced them?
All the main animal characters were realistically drawn, and given voices, and personalities, that kept you interested, and entertained.
The actor who plays the pivital character Fawn was quite good.
The bickering, though loving, Beavers were a hoot, and the wolves suitably menacing.
Aslan, the Lion was suitably mysterious, commanding, and royal.
The other animal characters, of a fantasy nature, were well drawn, and adequate to their various parts in the film, mostly as soldiers, and camp follwers.
The Effects, and Cinematography?
Impressive, and beautifully done.
The landscapes were beautiful to behold.
The rendering of various unfortunate characters turned into frozen Gargolyles by the witch lent a sense of menace to the proceedings.
The Climactic Battle was as violently hectic, and impressively staged as any Fantasy, or Medieval, battle ever filmed, though bloodless ( By that I mean that this wasn't Braveheart, Gladiator, or the Lord of the Rings films. ).
Fans of the books, like with the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, know what's going to happen, and have various expectations, and for the most part people seem satisfied with the result as presented.
Those inclined to see the religious elements see them in spades, and will spend hours happily talking them up in Church, and on Blogs, and online forums.
For people like me, though, various things, in the end, detracted from total appreciation of the whole.
Keeping all the actors grounded in the world of 1940's England, through accents, and cultural touches was a pleasant suprise since a lot of times Americn Filmmakers will Americanize things ( Think Lord of the Flies, for one example ), sometimes to the detriment of the material.
The opening sequence of the Blitz was impressive, and set the stage for why the kids were sent out of town for their own safety.
The beginning of the film set up quite well the conficts amongst the siblings, telegraphing to the unfamiliar that Edmund was going to be a problem.
The inital discovery of the secret of the Wardrobe by little Lucy was suitably full of mystery, and wonder, and the sequence where the Fawn plays his Flute has some nice halucinatory effects.
The handling of the doubt by the other children re-enfored the turmoil among them.
Edmonds encounter with the witch, and seduction into betrayal, was well handled.
The scene with Santa was meant to be a solemn moment that moved the plot into the realm of the more menacing, by giving the kids more of an inkling that something else is going on here than they understand.
I wish they'd been less in awe of the moment, and had asked more questions, and that Lucy would stop with that silly smile.
The continuing duplicity by Edmund ( Quick! Someone tell him sweets are bad for your teeth! ), then his growing realization that he was being used, and his eventual rescue, and re-uniting with his siblings were nicely handled.
The chase, and battle with the wolves, was menacing, and thrilling, yes, but since even us folks who never read the books know the kids survive, the suspense is lost.
The 1st encounter with Aslan was appropriately regal, and awe inspiring, and the initial encounter between the witch, and Aslan full of a controlled sense of menace.
What happened next is at the heart of the many religious aspects of the book, and is the 3rd of the 4 religious themes introduced into the film ( Edmunds temptation being the 1st, his forgiveness the 2nd, and his redemption in battle being the 4th. ).
From the "disciples" walking with the "Christ-like" figure before he goes on alone to meet his destiny, to the Christ-like death, and mystical ressurection this was all powerfully, though obviously, rendered.
What happened to Aslan would upset PETA no end, "in service of the story" be damned. ;-D
In my opinion the ultimate pay-off of this part was diluted by the needs of the plot.
We are made to wait for the "resurrection" because there's a battle to stage.
When we get the explanation for the return of Aslan all I could think was...
Well, SHIT! If those 2 sniveling girls hadn't draped themselves all over his dead carcass for most of the night, and half the morning, the ressurection could have happened soon enough to save everyone all the pain, and violence of a big-assed, hours long, battle!
Then, after everyone gets hacked to pieces, or severely wounded, and the battle is won, Lucy drops a bit of potion on the wounded Edmund, and, it's implied, everyone in sight, and all's well again.
Except for some unlucky fighters on the other end of the witches sword the effects of violence in battle are seemingly reversed.
The kids are crowned, get cool nicknames, and grow into young Adults, happily ruling their new kingdoms, memories of their parents, and the Blitz, all seemingly forgotten, until a fortuitous route choice for a horseback ride leads them back to the other side of the wardrobe, and their old lives.
A nice setting of the stage, regardless, for the innevitable 2nd film.
Overall, I'd give this film a strong 3 1/2 out of 5 Stars.
To trash a bio-pic from the perspectives of what you approved, or disapproved, about the subjects life, and culture, makes little sense to me. ( I've felt this way about the various Life of Christ films over the years too )
Ol' Alex lived in a harsh world with different religions, and morals than ours, and what went on then shouldn't be judged too harshly by our disapproving standards....
Critics, from Ebert on down, are overanalyzing, nitpicking, and letting their feelings about Stone get in the way of enjoying an entertaining film. Their confusion, and disappointment, isn't the fault of the filmmakers.
Victor David Hanson is one of at least two writers to take great exception to the historical inacuracies of the film, and take the time to enlighten us about the true Alexander.
Well, I thought it was simply terrible. The film goes on for nearly three hours, but we hear nothing of what either supporters or detractors of Alexander, both ancient and modern, have agreed were the central issues of his life....
we are beginning to see, that all for all the protestations of artistic excellence and craftsmanship, Hollywood has become mostly a place of mediocrity, talentless actors and writers who spout off about politics in lieu of having any real accomplishment in their own field.
Wretchard, of The Belmont Club, really went to great lengths to explore the REAL Alexander, and it paints a complex picture of who, and what, he was.
A lot of it isn't pretty, and makes you wonder why Macedonians, and especially Greeks, are so keen to claim him as one of the greats in their historical pantheons.
I guess it has a lot to do with the BIG PICTURE. The effect of his actions, and policies, on the world of his time, and the world that came afterward.
There is no dispute that that WAS considerable.
Wretchard wrote ( and includes a few useful links ), among other things:
A sense of the wealth of information that is omitted -- and which VDH knows is omitted -- can be glimpsed from the incident of mass mixed marriages. Some management theorists, going a little deeper than Oliver Stone, have regarded the incident as the first recorded instance of a merger in history. Others have characterized it as the first stumbling steps towards modern multiculturalism....
it is Darius I sometimes feel for. There is evidence he was a decent man, something in the mold of a Jimmy Carter, and he had no chance against the dynamic and ruthless Alexander....
Hollywood may have calculated that none of this was important; that the sole point of interest of a population weaned on the tabloids was the earth-shaking question of whether or not Alexander was gay.
The great, multi-political view, Orange County, Ca., roundtable known as Orange Juice has been undergoing change as it moves, changes its look, and add some new things to what is offerered by one of the most popular blogs in Southern California.
It recently had a very amusing way of explaining all this:
Some unfortunate bloggers did not survive the Great Migration to WordPress Pass, way back in two-thousand-aught-eight. We turned back to look at the fallen, clenched our teeth, and pressed on.
Rocks rained on us from left and right; rival blogs wishing us ill prowled on all sides waiting for a sign of weakness, but we soldiered on grimly through the rocks and snow.
I was so enthused by this success that I continued reading and clipping her articles into the summer.
Over the last couple of weeks I've been going though my stuff, sorting and organizing all the notes, and documents I've accumulated over the last 20 years.
I'd forgotten that I even had kept some of this material! ;-D
I was still living in Pomona, Ca. at the time.
I somehow got my hands on information about the National Archives, and had filled out an order form for a book on researching in the national archives, some brochures about the Archives Microfilm collection, and the various Federal Census from 1790 to 1910.
$49 was a lot to spend, though, and I never did send in the form.
I had sent off for, and received, info on The Kentucky Historical Society, at the time that they had just begun their Staff Genealogical Research Service, and filled out a Query Submission Form with the intent of paying $18 for membership in the Society.
After the death of my Mother, in 1990, my life took several twists, and turns, through 1998, and I left my research alone.
I got a computer, went online, and by 2001 had discovered its usefulness for genealogy research.
That computer helped to change my life.
As the interest in Genealogy, and using the internet in the search for, and sharing of, information among Genealogists kicked into high gear in the late 90's, Everton's Genealogical Helper soon found it had some excitable, and exciting, new neighbors on the magazine shelves of bookstores. ;-D
It obviously inspired my few successes in the following years.
Also inside was an article by Peter and Connie Bradish called "It's in your Computer, but Where? ;-D
2.Family Tree Magazine, of October 2001, had an article called "Putting the Pieces Together, by the author of Unpuzzling Your Past, Emily Anne Groom, one exploring Rootsweb, one on Tribal Ties, one on deciphering handwriting, and spelling, and one on using old newspapers in your research, that all caught my attention.
3. Family Tree Magazine, of Dec. 2001, had a list of Libraries of use to Genealogists, an article on computers, one on the Mormon website called Family Search, and one on Cluster Genealogy by Emily Anne Croom.
4.Family Chronicle, of Sept./Oct. 2001, had articles about genealogy for beginners, the Melungeons, the DAR, Brick Wall Solutions, and 20 Top Genealogy Websites Worth Surfing.
5. Family Chronicle, of Nov./Dec. 2001, had several articles on online resources, and articles on GEDCOMs, Brick Wall Solutions, and using Newsgroups, Boards, and Lists.
6. Family Chronicle , of Jan./Feb. 2002, had an article on archiving photos, and one on Ahnentafels, but it was what I had set inside, temporarily at the time, that is of most interest.
I had typed out, and printed in 2001, with intent to mail, requests for copies of the Original Social Security Number Applications (or Computer Extracts of them), of my parents, maternal grandmother and her brother, and an aunt, from Social Security.
2001,2002, and 2005, were the most fruitful years of my research, and when I moved to Orange County I ventured, for the 2nd time, to the National Archives branch in Laguna Niguel, Ca. (The first time, in the early 90's, I had to walk over 3 miles to, and from the bus stop, as opposed to just a few blocks.).
That trip was a productive one because I was able to print out certain census records from 1900, 1910, and 1920.
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