You know I’ve been working on my second manuscript “Inside the Gold Plated Pistol” and it’s going great. I told you earlier I was backing off from posting to allow more time to devote to creative writing. I threw in photo posts because, well, they’re fast and easy to do. I’ve been trying to keep up with your blogs, commenting when I can. Then I added a Lucky 13 Film Club post, and now I’ve found really cool information about the Weimar Republic as well as Chicago in the late 1920s. Naturally, I thought of making a post and sharing it. I’ve seen a slew of movies and thought about writing a post about several films that have held my attention, but I’ve refrained. In other words, I think about blogging all the time.
Herein lies my problem. I’ve gone and said a couple of times that I’m taking a hiatus. Step by step, I’m lured back to blogging. So the novel gets neglected, and I feel like an albatross is around my neck. Then I go through an emotional see-saw–should I bother writing the novel? Should I just focus on blogging? The vacillation is the best problem I could have. The solution is bittersweet, however. I’m going to sign off completely from blogging until the first draft of the manuscript is completed and sent off to the editors. I simply cannot juggle one or the other well. I think it’s called growing older. If you have planned an upcoming Lucky 13 Film Club event with me, hold on to that thought! I’m hoping by summer I’ll be back and ready to blog with you all.
Who knew farming butterflies and observing their cycle intimately in a Butterfly House could be a therapeutic experience? Quite a few of you enjoyed yesterday’s butterfly post. I pulled a few more shots to share. Which one do you prefer the most?
I was in Phoenix today with family enjoying the 3,000 butterflies fluttering around us at Butterfly Wonderland. What did I learn? It takes three generations in the span of a year for the Monarch Butterfly to complete the great migration. It begins in the hills of Texas where butterflies feed on Milkweed. Then they produce the next generation which flies up to Toronto. The final generation senses winter is coming, so they fly south to Mexico, riding the wind, sometimes up to a mile high. They spend the winter in Mexico, billions of them. Then they return to Texas. I apologize for not knowing the names of the species we encountered today. Here a dozen shots for you today. Which shot do you like best?
Welcome back to the Lucky 13 Film Club. Traditionally, a co-host joins me and we share an angle into the film industry and talk to people all day long. It’s great to hear from one and all, so add to the conversation. Would you like to lead a discussion you are passionate about? Let’s figure out a topic together and select a month that works for you. It’s easy and fun. Email me with your idea: firstname.lastname@example.org.
It probably has occurred to you that if there’s a movie about the Irish whether it was filmed in Ireland or contains Irish characters, invariably, elements of Catholicism and violence follow. Is this a stereotype? Why are the Irish depicted as scrappers, alcoholics, boorish and profane? A sign of the cross in one breath, a hard right sent or received in the next? As an ethnic group, the Irish and Catholicism are intrinsic, and in films, the priests and nuns usually misbehave behind their cloisters and vestments? Tis a gray line between their luck and their paddy-whacked explosive history. If the violence isn’t with the Catholic church, a mob, a brawl or bout in the ring, the violence likely happens between the IRA and the feud between Northern Ireland Protestants and their Southern Catholic counterparts. Need a quick reminder of Northern Irish History? READ THIS. Can you think of a film set in Ireland or containing Irish characters which don’t feature religion and violence? The only two exceptions I can think of are Brooklyn (2015) and Waking Ned Devine (1998). (Well, Eilis did emigrate and establish herself with the help of Father Glynn, didn’t she?)
If it’s a film set in the Boston area, the Irish family is revered, Catholicism is followed, violence is worshipped, and the culture is packaged with an indiscernible vernacular and enough profanity to make a sailor blush.
Would you consider Good Will Hunting a violent film?
He loved Ireland so much he became a citizen. Some of his best films include him playing an Irish character.
Favorite Irish Characters in Films
Violence and Religion are the cornerstones of Irish history and those values are reflected in film. Have the stereotypes worn thin? What’s the fascination and glamorization of violence, alcohol, and the perversion of faith? My favorite stereotype is that they’re funny.
This afternoon my family and I headed out to the ridge overlooking the Sycamore Canyon. It was 80 degrees and the breeze delightful. We watched the cows roam and the full moon rise. Which one do you like best?
The month of February was a blur of moving and working. And writing. I’ve been concentrating on writing creatively rather than creating blog posts about films. Also, I haven’t gone anywhere to share any photo shots. For now, I just want to keep working on “Inside the Gold Plated Pistol”. George Hero is in Berlin,1922, working as an extra for Fritz Lang’s Dr. Mabuse: Der Spieler. Here is what he does in his spare time:
Sunken clouds spit a late April rain on the back of George’s neck. He entered a cracked lane overtaken by weeds toward an abandoned water tower of chocolate bricks and curved windows that looked like drowsy eyes. The architecture was nothing like the white, water tower in Chicago where as a boy he had watched his father work as a foreman. This one was a rectangle box eight stories tall, a fortress from a medieval dream. As George approached the back door, the bumpy clouds obscured the morning light and gave the building a sinister appearance. The dampness absorbed into the stump at his wrist, and it ached as he poked at his neck trying to stifle the itch under his skin. It had been three days since his last visit to Mr. Li’s opium den.
Within walking distance of the UFA studio complex, hidden from the main road behind vines that coiled around the Hemlock trees, he knocked on a door and waited for a Chinaman to open the center window and admit him. The small window-door snapped open and a man with puffy eyes squinted at him. He recognized George and let him in. George hunched down and followed him, watching his braid roll on the back of his tunic as he led him through the basement. Room dividers partitioned a corner, and as George whiffed the aroma of opium, he salivated. A pot-bellied stove heated pots of water and warmed the area while a young worker prepared opium tea. Kerosene lamps sat on tables and a davenport. George walked over to the old man who organized the den and gave him Deutschmarks.
“Guten Tag, Joe,” he greeted George with a thick accent. “Here.” He patted one of eight Army cots each covered with a military blanket, all positioned in a circle with a center island for the young worker on a stool. His work table contained candles, matches, bowls, opium pods, a pester and grinder, tubes, bamboo pipes, and a hookah. He had a long, curved pinky nail which was filed and used as a spoon. When filled, the nail held exactly half a gram. George thought that was clever.
“Hello, Mr. Li.”
He kicked off his soggy loafers and placed them next to the stove to dry. He set his overcoat on a wooden chair by his cot and lay down feeling like a bug on an ashen petal connected to a dead daisy. As he waited for the opium to foam and to inhale the vapor, he ignored the other bug two cots away and stared at the room divider. There was a red dragon coiled and twisted on a silk panel. He inhaled and closed his eyes. Soon the flush dulled his senses. That dullness turned into a stupor like a blanket that covered him with nothingness, and he floated to a place where Private Cox could not penetrate. In this dreamy blackness, his one impression was that he was in his mother’s womb, and his relief became an audible groan.
He lay there for several hours before he had to report for filming.
The following is an old post about Fritz Lang and German Expressionism and Hans Poelzig, an inspirational architect for this story.
Expressionist German architect, Hans Poelzig, and Thea von Harbou, the screenwriter and wife of Fritz Lang, have a grip on my imagination while I create the climate of Weimar Germany in the manuscript, “Inside the Gold Plated Pistol”. George Hero, my American World War I veteran, arrives in Berlin, and stumbles into the world at UFA studios wherein 1922, Thea’s script is filmed by Fritz Lang: Dr. Mabuse: Der Spieler.
In McGilligan’s biography, Lang’s first wife died mysteriously one night upon finding Lang and Thea von Harbou in an illicit embrace. Reported hours after her apparent suicide, Fritz and Thea were married soon afterwards. Was it murder or suicide? Why wait so long before reporting the death? Some critics dislike the negative portrayal of the difficult director and little attention delegated to Thea, a member of the Nazi Party. I will have to read a biography on Thea von Harbou to find out more about her life outside her ten-year marriage, but I did enjoy the site dedicated to the Women Film Pioneers Project. What I do know is she was a musician, intellectual, feminist, Nazi, and a screenwriter whose ten-year collaboration with Fritz Lang yielded legendary results:
Who knows why she held her German Nationalist views while Fritz Lang emigrated to the United States or how she was implicated in a murder, but my fiction will dabble with the possibilities and recreate the evening involving George.
Fritz Lang & Thea von Harbou, married, 1922-1933Hans Poelzig Architecture light columns at the Grand Theater’s entrance hall
The Großes Schauspielhaus, Berlin, Germany circa 1920What a pity Hans Poelzig’s grand theater exists only in pictures now. The honeycomb pillars resembled stalactites and the circular design without balcony seats, according to Ross Wolfe’s article “Scary Architecture: The Early Works of Hans Poelzig” found HERE, was an exquisite example of German expressionist architecture. Imagine the ceiling full of lights to imitate the stars. Before its demolition in the 1980s, the theater’s history included Nazi control in 1933 when its grandness was hidden behind dropped ceilings and eventually turned into a warehouse. I wish someone would recreate it for new audiences to enjoy.