• Category Archives Media
  • Acts of Creation

    Imbolc and the crescent Wolf Moon

    Sunday gratefuls: Beau Jo’s pizza. Easy Entree’s Chicago beef sandwiches. Keepin’ me sane. Kate. Somewhat better days. Trying new things with her nourishment. That crescent Moon. Sleeping through the night. Invisible City, a short Netflix series featuring Brazilian folklore. Latin American magical realism. 100 Years of Solitude. Marquez.

    Folklore. Legend. Fairy tales. Mythology. Religion. Art. These are some of my favorite things.

    Just finished the short series, Invisible City, on Netflix. It features Brazilian folktale creatures like the Saci, the Cuca, the Cucupira, the pink River Dolphin. Green Frontier, a Colombian series from 2017, focuses on the Amazonian forest and the supernatural.

    Netflix and to a lesser extent, Amazon Prime and HBO Max, keep offering films and television series from all over the world. I love this, especially the original programming on Netflix produced by local creatives in their own language and in their own thought worlds. The supernatural dramas draw me in though they vary a great deal in quality.

    I also love dramas and mysteries that show life in different places. Gomorrah, organized crime in Naples. The Alienist, turn of the century (19th to 20th) New York, Monarca, contemporary Mexico City, Wild District, contemporary life in Bogota and the lives of guerillas. Many others.

    Since I can’t get out, get around, these days, travel comes to me. The anthropologist in me loves the folktales, the cultures, the different mores. And the ticket price is far lower.

    Reading lately. Finished a few chess related novels after watching the amazing Queen’s Gambit on Netflix. Finishing Theodora Gossa’s European Travels for Monstrous Women and will pick up Kim Stanley Robinson’s, the Ministry of the Future next. Science fiction and fantasy also live in the fairy tale, folktale, legendary realm.

    Writing. Jennie’s Dead. Ancientrails. Writing a Psalm for the Rabbi Jamie class. Not as much as I’d like, more than I’ve been doing. Just bought some Brazilian folklore books. Might be good basis for a new novel.

    I have another novel idea I’ve been kicking around for years, one that would examine white supremacy, maybe militias. This one emerges not from the favorite things I mentioned above, but from my growing up years in Indiana. Like my buddy Mark Odegard this work sustains me, even though it may never see the light of day.

    My birthday’s coming up and I’m playing with the idea of a podcast or a Patreon website on which I would read my own novels, figure out some sort of subscription service. Not a new idea, novels were sometimes published in newspapers, magazines, in serial fashion. Combine my speaking voice with my creative voice. The birthday part of this is buying items for a podcasting studio.

    Friend Alan Rubin has a lot of experience in audio recording and has created a studio for himself to do voice overs and commercials. He’s advised me. I’ve watched Youtube videos and just bought Audio for Authors, a book about this sort of project.

    So, yes, the creative me stays alive, is never far from my consciousness.

    The only rule is to work. From a list of rules by John Cage. That’s the trick. Persistence.

  • I Recommend

    Lughnasa and the Harvest Moon

    Three high quality but very different offerings on TV right now. On Hulu, the least strange show of the three: Veronica Mars 4th season. The first three seasons ended in 2007, so number four is set 12 years later. The show’s first three seasons are also on Hulu, which paid for the late addition.

    characters in the 3rd season of Veronica Mars

    If you never met Veronica, you’ve missed an iconic character in American television. Smart mouthed, brave, petite, beautiful, and brainy, she’s first in high school solving the problems of students at Neptune High. (California) In the third season she’s in college. Ditto. By season number four she has a Stanford law degree, but chooses to return to Neptune to work as private investigator with her father, Keith.

    Four stars out of five. Four only because I like things a little stranger. So, a biased ranking. (But, aren’t they all?)

    Amazon Prime Video put up Carnival Row on August 29th, so it’s brand new. Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne star. A British production, it’s loaded with character actors you might have seen on BBC shows and has a fascinating set complete with monorails, gritty streets, and an overall Victorianesque tone.

    There’s been a long war between the fae with their human allies and the Pact, a mysterious and brutal enemy to both. There are pixies with wings, trotters with rams horns on their heads, lots of Midsummer Night’s Dream references (this is a British show after all), and yet another take on zenophobia. This last is a bit disappointing though I get it as an of the moment plot device. Disappointing, btw, in its overuse, not in its broader significance.

    High production values, great cast, an edgy plot. Four and a half stars. Right now. I’ve not finished it so I may go up to five or down to four when I’m done.

    As I said in yesterday’s post, Netflix has taken the biggest chances by funding shows and limited series from a diverse collection of nationalities and story telling traditions. My recent and so far all time favorite is Frontera Verde, the Green Frontier, made by Colombians and filmed in and near Leticia, Colombia’s southern most point. Leticia is the capital of the department of Amazonas, and borders Brazil’s state of the same name.

    A detective from Bogota is sent to Leiticia to investigate the murder of four missionaries in the jungle. Helena Poveda was born in the jungle near Leticia, but sent to Bogota as a young girl and has not returned until this trip. The murder of the missionaries, from Edens Church, and the solution to them, does make this a mystery.

    Solving the murders is a vehicle that takes us into the botanical mystery that is the Amazonian jungle and the lives of those indigenous communities who live there. The old days of rubber plantations, the current threats of rogue loggers and a secretive group intent on penetrating the mystical center of the jungle for their own purpose provide the villainy.

    The story telling has a Gabriel Garcia Marquez inflection, magical realism often taking the story in surprising directions. Early on a hand, covered in black pigment, comes to rest on a root and the root glows and pulses. This is Yua, the eternal slave, and a guardian of the jungle. Ushe is his long time companion, both many decades older than they appear. Ushe’s murder, discovered by Elena while investigating the killing of the missionaries, is the central plot line though it takes a long time for that to become evident.

    I love the undercurrents here. An indigenous detective has to choose between his police duties and his community, the Nai. Elena discovers the true depth of her home coming. “The jungle is in your heart,” says the indigenous detective’s grandfather to her. Yua and Ushe navigate the jungle’s essence, sometimes using magic, other times their knowledge of the communities, other times their vast botanical lore. Edens Church has a much different belief system than its predecessor, an order of Catholic nuns.

    Ushe and Yua

    The videography is wonderful. A slim boat travels quickly up the wide, brown Amazon. Ushe and Yua meet in a cosmic space held together by mother jungle. The jungle itself is by turns claustrophobic, vast, and alive.

    I realized last night that by an odd coincidence Colombia is the foreign country I have visited most. Three times. Once in 1989, Bogota. Once in the 1990’s with Kate, Cartagena. And once in 2011, Santa Marta. Long before any of those trips I had found Marquez and his Hundred Years of Solitude.

    Santa Marta, Colombia 10/23/2011

    With those trips to Colombia, our two transits of the Panama Canal, and the 7 week cruise we took around Latin America in 2011, I feel I’ve had a modest immersion in the often strange world of this continent where the Portugese and Spanish ran headlong into indigenous communities. Might be why I like this so much.

    I’ve begun a second watching of Frontera Verde, something I almost never do. It’s mixture of indigenous magic and shamanism with contemporary problems of the “earth’s lungs,” as the Amazon is often referred to in the stories about its many fires, makes it compelling to me.

    Five stars. Good acting, wonderful landscapes, strange plotlines. Another world brought to life. Compelling.

  • Collecting

    Imbolc                                                                       Valentine Moon

    Tumblr.  Addictive in a sense I don’t fully understand yet.  I’ve selected bloggers on Tumblr, largely where folks post images of one sort or another, who present art.  Over 100 of them at last count.  At any one time only a handful might be posting, so keeping up, or at least staying roughly abreast is doable.  The range of images that folks select is wide, one of  the charms of Tumblr for me, a chance to both get inside people’s heads as they choose images to post and an opportunity to see art that I wouldn’t have found on my own.  In that sense it’s a very eclectic museum.

    (folder: architecture)

    The addictive part for me is that I’m saving images, image after image, in those files I talked about reorganizing a while back.  Many, many art folders:  art contemporary, art Russia, art Symbolist, artist Blake, artist Matisse.  Cinema and television.  Natural world.  Cities.  War.  Travel.  So on.

    Like a squirrel delighted with finding an abundance of acorns, I pluck these images up in my digital cheeks and carry them over to the small holes I’ve dug in my hard drives memory to cache them.  The folders have begun to grow fat with image after image.  Perhaps a hundred images or more in some instances.

    (folder, art photography.  the pope’s apartment the night before his announcement about his retirement.)

    My question is, why am I doing this?  Part of it is a desire to see again striking images or historically significant images or funny images or moving images.  That’s true, but mostly, like the squirrel, I dig the hole, then go on to dig another hole, often forgetting the one I dug before.  This is what oak trees count on.  How oak forests grow.  Of course, I know where all my folders are and I can open them whenever I want, but my point is that I’m more engaged in stuffing them full than utilizing them.

    Utilizing them for what?  My first approach to answering this question will come on Thursday when I start reading the catalog for the Pre-Raphaelite show at the National Gallery.  I have a folder filled with Pre-Raphaelite art and will find images, I imagine, of most of the pieces in the show.  Perhaps I’ll curate them myself, re-organize them in different ways, trying to emphasize different aspects of this 19c phenomenon.  Perhaps I’ll use the images for comparison, for tracing the history of certain themes and techniques.  Or, I might just open the folder and look at them, one after the other, taking in their color, their subject matter.

    (folder History England.  a 1920 poster for the tube.)

    This is an activity only possible with the internet and large hard drives.  And a lot of time.  It feels important; that’s why I’m writing about it.  But why?  No idea.

  • A Serial Watcher

    Spring                                                     Beltane Moon

    A gorgeous day.  Sun, warm.  Daffodils in bloom.  Bees buzzing in the orchard.  Dogs playing in the woods.  Kate’s on her way home.  

    Ruthie told Kate she was her favorite grandma.  I told her she was my favorite grandma, too.  She’s coming back a happy gal.

    During the grey cold days of the weekend I did something I’ve not done before.  I wrote here sometime ago quitting Comcast cable tv.  Too damn expensive and a time suck.  In it’s place we have dvds, netflix and hulu.  Hulu (and Netflix, too for that matter) has whole TV series from beginning to end.  For instance, it has the entire Battlestar Galactica Sci-Fi channel series.  And many others.


    That means you can do what I did on Saturday and Sunday.  I found a new series, Grimm, that tells the story of a descendant of the fairy-tale compiler.  Turns out the Grimms can see and hunt all manner of thought-to-be imaginary creatures like the big bad wolf, pied piper and a whole menagerie of others.

    So I watched 1-12 of an 18 episode run.  That’s the thing I haven’t done before.  You can watch TV serials as if they are, in a sense, a video novel with each episode as a chapter.  Now I wouldn’t defend this as a way to increase your brain power, might have killed a few gray cells, but it sure was fun.  Felt very decadent though.

  • A Puzzle

    Winter                                 First Moon of the New Year

    Here’s a puzzle.  Tuesday night is trash night here in Kadlec Estates so I trundled out both the regular trash and the recycling.

    The moon, at about 3/4’s full, was there, the lesser lamp, but the greater in aesthetic impact; Orion had risen in the eastern sky, now his usual upright self after his disturbing Southern Hemisphere headstand; and, there, on the western patch of lawn, the portion that abuts the driveway and goes down to the street, were regular bare patches, about 6-8 inches wide, then a much broader band of icy snow, a pattern that repeated several times as the yard slopes up toward the garage.

    What could cause such regularity?  Baffles me.

    Soon I’ll have several more chunks of photographs posted about the cruise at www.ancientoftrails.tumblr.com .  Going through them brought back a lot of the trip, its diverse geography, flora and fauna.  This trip will take a long time to settle in.  My eventual goal is to post my ancientrails entries in tandem with the photographs, but that may not happen for months.

  • A Drive Down Mainstreet of My Hometown

    Beltane                                      Full Planting Moon

    Ah, the internet.  It can suck you in and keep you in place longer than you intended.  I found this quirky video, a drive on Harrison Street, the main street of Alexandria.  If you notice the Masonic Lodge he shows about halfway through, our house was just behind it, flanked by two nearby funeral homes.

    The character who took this I don’t know, but he’s real familiar anyhow.