Friday, January 29, 2016

I've not been posting for 18 days. I'll say why later........

Monday, January 11, 2016

I refuse to post these to the front page of Wikipedia any more. But I will post them here. The article I wrote or assisted with is in bold.
Did You Know ... that British musician Declan McKenna made his public singing debut at the Waltham Cross summer fair in Hertfordshire in June 2014, but within a year had won the Glastonbury Festival's Emerging Talent Competition and seen his self-released first single, "Brazil", reach number three on the Alt 18 Countdown on the Alt Nation alternative rock radio station on Sirius XM Radio?

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Why, yes! That's Alexander Rozhenko, Worf's son on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

He was portrayed by child actor Jon Paul Steuer, who was all of six years old at the time. The series actually tried to get Steuer to reprise the role a year later. Alexander was to have grown a lot taller and entered adolescence by then, as Klingon children grow faster than human young. But Steuer had barely grown, and so nine-year-old actor Brian Bonsall was cast instead. Steuer was heartbroken.

* * * * * * *

That's Steuer when he was about 18 years old. By this time, he'd been on Grace Under Fire from 1993 to 1996. He quit the show in May 1996, due to the intense media speculation about star Brett Butler's erractic behavior and drug abuse. He was 12 years old, and just not able to handle the stress. He was replaced by his friend and former Little Giants co-star, 15-year-old Sam Horrigan. Steuer tried to audition for other acting gigs, but every audition turned into a Q&A about Grace Under Fire. He quit acting.

* * * * * * * * *

Steuer got into music in his teens. He briefly was lead singe for a Denver band called No Policy, but then got involved with Kill City Thrillers under the name Jonny P. Jewels. The band formed about 2003, and then moved to Portland, Oregon, about 2005. They released an album in 2006, but the band really never took off. It dissolved in November 2009. It's since reformed under the name High Horse, but Steuer is not involved.

Steuer acted as a booking agent for a club or two, but spent most of the last decade working as a bartender and server at various bars, clubs, and restaurants in Portland. In March 2015, he and chef Sean Sigmon opened a vegan restaurant, Harvest at the Bindery.

Steuer is very, very, very sexy. Very hot. Great body. But, sadly, he's heterosexual...

If I ever met a guy wearing a t-shirt like this, I'd be his best friend immediately.

I refuse to post these to the front page of Wikipedia any more. But I will post them here. The article I wrote or assisted with is in bold.
Did You Know ... that the Hillcrest neighborhood of Washington, D.C., has a cluster of luxury houses (built in late 1937 and early 1938) near the intersection of Highview Terrace SE and 34th Street SE that was originally called "Fairfield"?
I've never known a boy who is dirty.

Oh, casually, I've known some. There was Puppy Boy, a stripper at Wet who liked water sports. There was Glenn, a stripper at La Cage who liked to have boys bite his neck during sex because he had a vampire fetish. There was Denny, a well-endowed meth-head who worked at the film festival and who was into electric stimulation. There was Carl, an online friend and college athlete who wanted his "Daddy" to force him to be strip-shaved, smear make-up on his face, force him into a woman's negligee, and fuck him while calling him "his little girl".

But as a good friend, boyfriend, or lover? Never.

I once knew a man in his 50s who had a 20-something twink lover. Twice a year, the older man would host a dinner party at his home. Guests would find his lover naked, sexually aroused, and tied down on top of the dinner table. Food wasn't plated, it was put on his body, and you picked up your chicken tenders, cheese, crackers, fruit, and other hors d'oeuvres off his naked body. For the next three to four hours, the boy lay there -- trying not to move, very aroused, and ignored.

Toward the end of the evening, someone would invariable use a pastry or ice cream or half-n-half to lubricate the boy's genitals and anus, and would finger and masturbate him to orgasm. Which, I must say, was astoundingly large. The boy had an enormous ejaculation to begin with; after four hours of constant sexual arousal, it was even more copious.

That kind of kink is intriguing to me. It's not shameful. (My friends certainly did not find it so.) It's something that can be paraded in front of others (unlike someone who enjoys bareback sex in a sling, say, or someone who likes electric sex), isn't messy, isn't morally fraught. It reminds me more of a 1920s or 1930s Hollywood party hosted by Ramon Novarro or Billy Haines or a Rock Hudson birthday party from the 1950s rather than a sexual thing.

I've often thought about finding someone like that for a friend or boyfriend.

But since I can't even get a date, much less laid, I realize that the dream is stupid and dumb.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

The Battle of the Hornburg from Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.

Fans and readers refer to the battle as "Helm's Deep", but that refers to the ravine in which the fortress is located. The actual fortress consists of the Deeping Wall and a fortress-like tower, the Hornburg. A cave in the rear of the ravine was known as the Glittering Caves, or as Aglarond. Tolkien asked that the battle be "the defense of the Hornburg" or "the battle of the Hornburg".

In the novel, Théoden rides to the Fords of Isen to find what is left of his in-the-field command. Discovering few men have survived, he follows Gandalf's advice and takes his troops to the Hornburg fortress. Gandalf remains behind with Erkenbrand (not Éomer) to gather the militia. The battle is pretty straight-forward: The Uruk-hai and men of Dunland attack, and are temporarily held at Helm's Dike (a raised earthwork at the mouth of the ravine). The Uruks and Dunlendings attack again, and the dike is overwhelmed. The Uruks and Dunlendings attack the Hornburg but are rather easily repulsed. They attempt to breach the Hornburg, and almost do so (begging the question as to why a drawbridge doesn't help defend the tower). But they are repulsed when Aragorn and Éomer ride out on horses through the gate and break the Uruk forces. The door is reinforced. Around 2 AM, the Uruk-hai use gunpowder to blast their way through the Deeping Wall. A fierce battle erupts, but the Rohirrim retreat into the Glittering Caves -- leaving the outer open-air fortress to the Uruks. A lull occurs in the battle. Gimli rallies the Rohirrim with the Deeping Horn, and Théoden leads a cavalry charge that clears the outer fortress of Uruks again. By this time, it is near daybreak. A vast forest has sprung up across the ravine, blocking the Uruks' exit. Gandalf arrives with 1,000 infantry led by Erkenbrand. The Dunlendings (number unknown) surrender immediately, while the Uruks flee into the forest. The forest is actually a vast group of savage, semi-sentient almost-Ents known as Huorns. The Hurons kill the 10,000 Uruk-hais. The Huorns are motionless by daybreak, and depart the next night -- leaving behind a vast number of dead Uruks. The Uruks are heaped up and covered over, and their grave later is known as "Death's Down".

In Peter Jackson's version -- ugh -- Théoden refuses the help of Éomer (whom he exiled while under Saruman's influence), and foolishly rides to the Hornburg with his women and children. Gandalf and Aragorn criticize the choice, arguing that Théoden is "walking into a trap". (In fact, their criticism is insanely stupid. Théoden has roughly 10,000 unarmed women, children, and old people to protect. He can't do so at Edoras. His cavalry is outnumbered on the field of battle. A defensive battle is the best he can hope for.) Suddenly, a force of several hundred Elves under the command of Haldir arrive. The 10,000 Uruk-hai attack. (No Dunlendings show up, even though in a prior scene they are shown swearing their allegiance to Saruman.) The defenders suffer heavy losses (nearly all the Elves are killed) and the Deeping Wall is topped. The breach is not bad. (Theoden asks "Is that all there is?") The Uruks attempt to breach the Hornburg door, and are repulsed by Gimli and Aragorn. The Uruks then blow a hole in the Deeping Wall, and the Rohirrim flee into the Glittering Caves. Gimli sounds the Horn of the Hornburg, and Theodon and Aragorn ride out in one last desperate charge (to their deaths, they believe). Gandalf arrives with Éomer and 2,000 Rohirrim cavlary, and they destroy the Uruks.

* * * * * * * *

Peter Jackson apparently had no real grasp of how to handle the Battle of the Hornburg.

In a late draft of the film, Arwen depicted was a warrior princess and not the willowy, frail, ethereal daughter or Elrond that she took in the finished motion picture. Jackson actually filmed scenes in which Elrond and Arwen go to see Galadriel in person and beg for her to send her troops to Rohan. She consents, and Arwen leads the Lothlórien Elves to Rohan. The script intended for Arwen to participate in the Battle of the Hornburg, and footage of Arwen fighting some Uruk-Hai was shot but was not used in the final film.

Midway through filming, Jackson decided to change the concept of Arwen to what is seen on film. But he decided to still have the Lothlórien Elves show up and help out the Rohirrim.

Jackson later realized the arrival of the Elves was not necessary. He wanted to reshoot the entire battle scene without them, and even considered using CGI to cut them out. But by this time he was out of money and out of time and had to leave them in.

For The Return of the King, Jackson began the film by showing Arwen swimming naked in a pool in Aglarond (the Glittering Caves behind Helm's Deep). Aragorn would come to her, and there would be a romantic interlude to begin things. Concept art by visual effects art director Paul Lasaine was completed, but the scene was cut from the script and nothing shot.

* * * * * * * *

As everyone by now is aware, Miramax originally agreed to finance two The Lord of the Rings films in 1995. In June 1998, with $15 million having been spent and not a single frame of film exposed, Miramax attempted to cut the budget to just a single picture. Jackson managed to win a deal from Harvey Weinstein: The project could be completed by another studio, if the studio (a) reimbursed Miramax for all funds already spent; (b) purchased the rights to all technical, concept, and script work; (c) gave the Weinsteins exeuctive producer credit on the films; and (d) gave Miramax a 5 percent cut of the gross. New Line Cinema agreed to the terms without much alteration.

The Helm's Deep/Deeping Wall/Hornburg set was designed by Alan Lee. Lee illustrated a number of scenes of the battle over the previous 25 years, so his selection to work on the Hornburg concepts was a natural. Because this set was considered the most difficult to design and build, the design for it was the first thing Lee began working on when he joined the project in November 1997. Lee's work was meant to make the Hornburg tower look like a World War I bunker. Paul Lasaine then refined Lee's concept, and it is Lasaine's design which is seen on film.

It's not clear just when Lee and Lasaine finished work on their design concept, nor when the first miniature was constructed. But Lasaine has said that a 1/35th scale miniature of the set was ready some time before June 1998 (the date New Line Cinema was brought on board to finance the films). This miniature was a true miniature, six feet wide and three feet deep, suitable only for wide shots. (By this reckoning, the Deeping Wall would be 80 feet high and 150 to 200 feet in length.) The Deeping Wall and Hornburg, as well as the fortress behind the Deeping Wall, was sculpted from polystyrene. The rock representing the mountain ravine in which the fortress was constructed was only roughly sculpted. To create a more detailed rock face, sheets of heavy, industrial tinfoil were molded to the underlying structure and then given a more finely sculpted look.

This set was used by Peter Jackson to help show Miramax executives what he intended to film. About 40,000 toy soldiers were purchased, repainted, and used to depict the Elves, Rohirrim, and Uruks as they attacked the Hornburg and Deeping Wall. Jackson would be lowered over the set on a camera crane and use a 35mm camera to swoop over the set and depict potential camera shots and movements of actors.

Later, this set was updated to be even more detailed, as it was now going to be used to close-up camera work. This required not only extensive repainting but a great deal of work on the "cut stone" rock of the Deeping Wall and the Hornburg. Ingeniously, miniature builder Mary Maclachlan designed a stamp which could mimic both light and deep cuts in stone. It was used to redetail both elements of the miniature.

For certain shots, and for the destruction of the Deeping Wall, a much larger "bigature" was needed. This model was built to 1/3 scale (some sources say 1/4 scale), with the top of the barbican giving access to the Hornburg tower about 20 feet high. As seen in the photos below, this "bigature" was so large, a person could stoop and pass through the gate into the fortress behind. Once again, due to the complexity of the model and the extensive amount of time needed to detail it to match the miniature, it was the first bigature constructed for the films.

This bigature was used primarily for shots in which the Uruks attack the Deeping Wall early in the battle. It was digitally composited with shots of Uruks below, CGI grapping hooks and ladders, and live-action shots of Elves and Rohirrim standing on a Deeping Wall set. Forced perspective was used to make the bigature look even larger: The foreground parts of the model were built larger than the middle and rear-ground parts, to trick the eye into thinking the model was larger and deeper than it really was. Action Man dolls (similar to the jointed 12-inch G.I. Joe doll) were placed on the model as it was being built to provide model-makers with a scale reference. (The doll had only been reintroduced in 1993.)

This bigature was also used to depict the explosion which destroyed the Deeping Wall. The Deeping Wall explosion was a one-time-only shot. The bigature could not be rebuilt (easily) if it failed. A number of cameras were used to capture the shot from a wide number of angles and positions, so that they could be edited together.

Friday, January 8, 2016

January 8, 1815 -- The Battle of New Orleans begins, the last major battle of the War of 1812. The battle ensured that the British could not occupy Louisiana, forcing the United Kingdom to ratify the Treaty of Ghent ending the war.

* * * * *

The War of 1812 had gone very, very badly for the United States. America lacked a navy, and relied primarily on militia for its army. But few people supported the war, and what militia did turn out were barely more than farmers with muskets. Meanwhile, the professional U.S. Army was small, poorly trained, poorly equipped, and poorly led. British warships effectively blockaded the United States, causing the economy to collapse, and the British burned the capitol at Washington, D.C., on August 24, 1814. But the British were also fighting Napoleon on the continent of Europe, and could not maintain the North American campaign. That's all that saved the United States from a humiliating defeat.

Britain offered the United States peace negotiations in 1813, and these negotiations dragged on for more than 18 months. A peace treaty (the Treaty of Ghent) had been agreed to on December 24, but news of the armistice would not reach American shores for at least three weeks, and it was unclear whether Britain would agree to the treaty. The war was going so badly for the United States that some in Parliament were arguing that the British should continue to press the war. Even with miniscule forces, it was believed, Britain could defeat the pathetic American naval and land forces and secure a major new foothold in North America that would lead to the re-absorption of the United States. At the very least, capture of Louisiana would allow the United Kingdom to lay claim to the Louisiana Purchase and prevent the United States from moving west of the Mississippi.

* * * * * * * * *

On December 12, 1814, a large British fleet with 8,000 soldiers, under the command of Sir Alexander Cochrane, anchored in the Gulf of Mexico east of Lake Pontchartrain. Two days later, the British defeated an American "mosquito fleet" (small gunboats) and entered Lake Borgne. This brought the British Army forces, under the command of General John Keane, to within 30 miles of New Orleans. Keane's forces moved west, and seized the east bank of the Mississippi River on December 23.

Now the British made a fateful decision: New Orleans was completely undefended. Had the British marched up the river road, they could have seized the city and devastated American hopes of holding Louisiana. Instead, Keane decided to encamp at Lacoste's Plantation and wait for reinforcements.

Major Andrew Jackson, commanding United States Army forces in the area, hit Keane's encampment on the evening of December 23. Jackson was defeated, and withdrew to the north bank of the Rodriguez Canal. But the raid convinced Keane he needed more reinforcements.

The British now made a second mistake: General Edward Pakenham argued that the British Army should advance on New Orleans. But Admiral Cochrane argued that the Royal Navy should transport the troops toward New Orleans. Pakenham lost the argument.

As the British debated how to move on the city, Jackson dug in on the canal. Massive earthworks were raised, with sharpened timbers facing the canal. A number of artillery pieces were placed in earthworks for protection, and his ill-equipped army of 4,732 men were supported by the American warships USS Louisiana and USS Carolina and the steamboat Enterprise on the river. Pakenham attacked the canal on January 1, 1815. Several of the American guns were knocked out, and the American line nearest the river broke and ran. But the British ran out of artillery ammunition, and amazingly Pakenham never knew that he'd panicked the American forces. Pakenham decided to wait until his entire 8,000-man force arrived before challenging the canal again.

On January 8, the British attacked again. Pirate Jean Lafitte was fighting for the American side, however, and he warned Jackson about the British attack. By this time, Jackson had constructed two more lines of earthworks in back of Rodriguez Canal, further strengthening his defensive position.

The British plan of attack was to send a small force to the west bank of the Mississippi and fire on the American flank from there. On the east bank, two columns would attack the main line at the riverbank and at the edge of a swamp on the far British right.

Things went badly for the British from the beginning. Colonel William Thornton's 85th Regiment dug a canal to get their boats from Lake Borgne to the Mississippi, but the canal broke and ran dry, forcing his men to haul their boats over mud. Exhausted, his men did not cross the Mississippi until after daybreak. They then successfully overran the small American battery there. But Thornton was severely wounded, and the attack bogged down afterward.

Fog provided the main British assault columns with cover, but it lifted just as they approached the canal, and the American fire decimated the advance troops. Major General Samuel Gibbs, leading the right column was killed, as were numerous British officers in both columns. The British then realized they had forgotten the ladders and fascines (bundles of brushwood) needed to cross the canal and scale the earthworks. Pakenham then ordered Keane's 93rd Highlanders to move across the open field between the two columns and join the British column on the right. As they did so, Keane was wounded by American rifle fire. The weakened British left captured an outlying American redoubt, but the Americans moved up swiftly and massacred the British troops. As the battle ended, Pakenham was fatally wounded by grapeshot fired from an American cannon.

Major Thomas Wilkinson was the most senior officer left on the field. Commanding the British right, he led a late attack on the canal which was wildly successful. His troops actually crossed the canal and reached the top of the earthworks before American soldiers fired on them from below and killed him. Now leaderless, the British soldiers stood around on the field of battle while American musketeers and cannoneers picked them off. Major General John Lambert, commanding the reserve, finally reached the field of battle and ordered a retreat.

Lambert's decision was made too early: The American lines were not holding, and a number of artillery had been captured undamaged. Jackson was so dismayed by this that he was planning to abandon his line and retreat.

* * * * * *

The Battle of New Orleans had taken just 25 minutes. The British lost 700 killed, 1,400 wounded, and another 500 were taken prisoner – fully a third of their entire force. The Americans had lost just seven killed and six wounded.

Worse, the real battle had yet to begin. After all, the British plan was to attack New Orleans via the river, not land.

In order to carry out their plan, the British needed to reduce Fort St. Philip, which protected New Orleans from an amphibious assault. The British attacked the fort on January 8 as well. But despite 10 days of withering gunfire, the American forces held.

As the Royal Navy bombarded Ft. St. Philip, General Lambert learned on January 11 that Thornton's forces had been captured. He held a council of war that day, and his officers convinced him that a land campaign against Jackson's entrenched forces would be too costly. The decision was made to evacuate. When the naval bombardment failed on January 18, the British attempt to capture New Orleans ended.

The Royal Navy fleet left Lake Borgne on February 4, 1815, with all the British troops aboard.

The British decided to attack Mobile, Alabama, instead – which was closer to their base of operations in Spanish Florida. They captured Fort Bowyer (at the mouth of Mobile Bay) on February 12. But the next day, the British army learned that the Treaty of Ghent had been ratified by Parliament on December 24, ending hostilities.

Although the Battle of New Orleans did not change the terms of the Treaty of Ghent, the defeat compelled Britain to abide by the treaty. General Pakenham had been given secret orders to continue fighting regardless of any peace treaty. The defeat at New Orleans, however, had so reduced his forces that he could no longer do so.

* * * * * *

What if? What if the United States had lost the Battle of New Orleans?

It would have been a disaster. Britain would have controlled the Mississippi River and its mouth. With British bases in Spanish Florida, the Gulf of Mexico would have been a British pond. American commerce there would have ceased, stunting the growth of the Deep South permanently. The swiftly growing American cotton industry would have become a slave to the British garment industry, providing cotton at ultra-low prices to British factories and keeping the Deep South permanently poor. Mississippi (which did not become a state until December 10, 1817), Alabama (which did not become a state until December 14, 1819), Missouri (which did not become a state until August 10, 1821), Arkansas (which did not become a state until June 15, 1836), and Florida (which did not become a state until March 3, 1845), would probably never have joined the Union. It's not even clear that Louisiana would have remained in American hands. In time, there would have been agitation for Lousiana to secede from the United States and become an autonomous colony of Great Britain again. Texas would never have been settled by Americans, and it -- and the entire Southwest United States -- would have remained in Mexican hands.

Although the United States had moved to the Mississippi River, America's "Manifest Destiny" as a continental power would have ended. The British were firmly entrenched in Ontario, and control of the Mississippi would have led to an intense effort to colonize the Great Lakes region. This would have been opposed by the United States, which would have effectively undertaken a campaign of swift and intensive settlement of Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Michigan. But that's where American expansion would have stopped. Iowa (which did not become a state until December 28, 1846) and Minnesota (which did not become a state until May 11, 1858) would most likely have become part of "Upper Canada" and British.

With British control of the Mississippi and major colonies in Minnesota and Iowa, the British would have blocked the United States from assimilating the Pacific Northwest. The discovery of gold in California would have created a conflict over that territory, as Americans flooded west to seek their fortunes. But the British, with their strong bases and colonies in the Pacific Northwest, may well have engaged in a military conflict over California, blockading ports like San Francisco and San Diego and forcing California to enter the British Pacific domain.

In time, treaties would have allowed the United States to use the Great Lakes and Mississippi River without harassment. But onerous tariffs would have left the United States with trading ports only on the East Coast (in places like Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, and Boston). Without access to the Great Plains, there would be no great American railroads. Without access to the iron ore of the Mesabi Range in Minnesota, there would be no great American steel and coal industry. The Plains Indians probably would have been left alone. Utah would probably have become an independent nation, retaining polygamy.

Canda would be a vastly expanded nation, breadbasket to the world, with massive iron and steel industries around the Great Lakes. By now, British California would probably be a distinct nation. Mexico would have a huge industrial and agricultural region in Texas and Oklahoma, with major shipping ports along the Mississippi River. British Southeast would be largely agricultural to this day. The Gulf of Mexico would be like the North Sea -- dotted with British oil rigs. Canada, not the United States, would have saved Britain during World War II, and Toronto (not Ottawa) would be the Canadian capital.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

I watched Far From the Madding Crowd yesterday, the 1967 film based on the 1874 Thomas Hardy novel. It stars Julie Christie as Bathsheba Everdene, Alan Bates as Gabriel Oak, Terence Stamp as Sgt. Troy, and Peter Finch as William Boldwood.

In the 2015 remake, mega-hunk Matthias Schoenaerts played Gabriel Oak. To ensure that audiences preferred Oak and understood how stupid Bathsheba's choices were, the diminuitive Michael Sheen was cast as William Boldwood and the somewhat effeminate, slight, pouty-mouthed Tom Sturridge as Sgt. Troy. Sturridge plays Troy in a sneering, petulant, almost mincing way. Sheen plays his role as timid, withdrawing.

I prefer the 1967 version. Hardy's novel is intended to undermine the common myth that rural life is more sedate and moral than city life. He shows how Bathsheba usurps the traditional male role to take charge of a farm and become a wealthy woman. To the modern reader, this is something to be applauded. To a reader in Hardy's day (and to Hardy), this was foolish. Bathsheba's foolishness is shown in the way she gives up the love of the hard-working, moral oak and the rich, moral (if stick-in-the-mud and unemotional) Boldwood. Instead, she falls in love with the immoral Troy.

Hardy makes it quite clear why Bathsheba falls in love with Troy: He has a large penis, and is excellent in bed. Hardy depicts this in the scene in which Troy pulls out his sword and engages in an exquisite display of swordsmanship in the arbor while Bathsheba squeals in delight. This erotic scene is designed to make it blatantly obvious why Bathesheba falls so suddenly and powerfully in love with Troy. "She's just a foolish woman," Hardy seems to be saying, "falling for the biggest cock and most expert cocksman around." Readers in Hardy's day knew exctly what he was implying.

Bathsheba's foolishness goes even further. In Hardy's day, men were expected to court women for many months before proposing (much less marrying). This allowed a woman and her family to more accurately gauge the man's real character. It allowed the family to speak with the man's relatives, friends, employers, and find out even more about his character. Character was everything, and marrying a man of character was incredibly important for a woman. Bathsheba spends no time getting to know Sgt. Troy. She marries him almost immediately after meeting him, based solely on his extraordinary good looks, his huge penis, and his incredible sexual skill in bed. Casting away the social norms associated with courting was like being a prostitute, to Hardy's readers. It was insanity.

But marrying Troy is like marrying a male prostitute or gay porn star: It ends in misery. Bathsheba's first love was her farm, and the high social position it gave her in her rural community. She throws over her farm for Troy's immense endowment. But on their wedding night, a storm hits. The storm threatens to destroy the farm by making the newly-mown hay wet. Wet hay will rot, and force Bathsheba to kill all her animals during the winter lest they starve. It will ruin her. Troy doesn't give a shit; he prefers to spend the night drinking with the local men rather than saving the farm.

This scene is critical to Bathsheba's character development. Troy has never loved Bathsheba; his only true love has been the farm girl, Fanny. Earlier in the novel, Fanny became pregnant with Troy's child. Troy agreed to marry her, and Fanny unfortunately went to the wrong church. By the time she realized her mistake, and hurried across the parish to the correct church, Troy had left -- convinced Fanny had refused to marry him. Fanny, broken-hearted, ran away. Troy then met Bathsheba, and married her. But he's never stopped pining for Fanny.

After the storm, Bathsheba must suspect that Troy doesn't really love her. He loves her money, loves the social position that her money gives him. He loves fucking her. But he is not in love with her.

Sure enough, things go from bad to worse. Troy begins spending Bathsheba's money incredibly fast, and she nears bankruptcy. Troy engages in the most immoral of activities, like cock-fighting. (In Hardy's day, the animal cruelty movement was becoming incredibly powerful. Cock-fighting, dog-fighting, bull-fighting, and other activities had just been banned. Troy's love of cock-fighting would have been seen as incredibly wrong.) Troy's drinking worsens. He begins to ignore Bathsheba, even becoming curt with her. It is implied that Troy even begins fucking the pretty local farm girls.

Bathsheba understands why Troy increasingly hates her. But she refuses to admit it until Fanny returns. Troy and Bathsheba encounter her, dying and about to give birth, on the road near their farm. Troy manages to conceal Fanny's identity from Bathsheba, and sends his wife on to the farm. Troy gives Fanny all his money, and tells her to meet him at the Casterbridge workhouse that night. Fanny manages to make it to the workhouse, and dies in childbirth. When Bathsheba learns that it is Fanny who has died, she pays for a coffin and allows the coffin to lie her in her house overnight. But Bathsheba's servants begin to whisper that Fanny had a child. Late at night, Bathsheba goes to the coffin, unscrews the lid, and discovers the body of Fanny and her dead child inside. Just then, Troy arrives (having gones to Casterbridge to see Fanny and having learned about her fate). Troy kisses the green, decaying corpse deeply and intimately, horrifying Bathsheba. He then cruelly tells Bathsheba that Fanny was more woman than Bathsheba could ever be, and that he never loved her. Bathsheba flees to her bedroom.

Bathsheba is never forced to reject Troy. Troy spends all Bathsheba's remaining cash to buy Fanny a lavish tombstone. He then swims out to sea, and commits suicide...

The 2015 film makes it really clear that Bathsheba is foolish for not choosing Gabriel Oak. Oak is the most handsome of her suitors. Oak is the most emotionally demonstrative, and the most moral.

The 1967 film is truer to the novel. But although Bathsheba's choice to the reader of 1874 was clearly foolish, it is less so to the film-goer of 1967. The 1967 film works overtime to hide actor Alan Bate's handsome face, powerful body, and immense endowment. The 1967 film casts mega-hunk Terence Stamp, who five years earlier had exploded on screen as the hot-bodied and beautiful Billy Budd, as Troy and the 51-year-old Peter Finch as Boldwood. In this regard, Troy is set up to be a good choice for Bathsheba. Director John Schlesinger (Midnight Cowboy, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Marathon Man) doesn't push any eroticism in the swordplay scene. Troy is dashing, where Oak is stolid, muddy, smelling of sheep. Troy is young and emotionally demonstrative, unlike Boldwood.

Bathsheba's choice of Troy in the 1967 film is seen as a good one. Or, at least, not a bad one.

Some viewers complain that Alan Bates isn't very handsome in the 1967 film.

I argue that's because the film goes out of its way to undermine Bates' terrific good looks, great body, and enormous endowment. The film purposefully makes Bates look dingy and ugly.

I mean, look at the guy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I've always seemed to miss the first 15 to 30 minutes of this film. AT LAST I get to see the full thing!

Monday, January 4, 2016

The gunmen in Oregon are domestic terrorists -- not "militia" and not "freedom fighters". They are thugs. They should be shot dead in cold blood.

The lack of action by the federal government and state and local law enforcement show, clearly, that there is a blatant racist double-standard in America: If you are black, police shoot first and ask questions later. Doesn't matter if you are armed or not. If you are white, police handle you with kid-gloves and refuse to shoot much less show up.

That is how it is in America.

I hope that's real and not photoshopped...

Michael DelRay (sometimes spelled "Del Ray") is a newcomer to adult film. He began by working for, but quickly traded up to Lucas Entertainment. He does mostly bareback films. He's one of these nondescript twinks without any muscle or body tone. But he has interesting facial features: When he's not smiling, he looks oddly handsome; when he is smiling, his face becomes all mouth and teeth and heavy lines. He's got a deep, heavy voice -- which is highly unusual for gay adult film. He's a brunette, and sometimes he leaves his pubes alone or only lightly trims them. But most of the time he's got them shaved down 90 percent of the way. He's got a furry ass and furry legs, and a very accommodating asshole that can take some of the larges cocks around without any problem.

Like a lot of well-endowed men, DelRay bottoms. He's trained to bottom. Having a really large cock in real life means that most gay men are too frightened to take him, so DelRay bottomed in order to get sex. He continues to bottom, even though he has a really long, thick cock with a very, very large knob. Occasionally, you'll see a scene where DelRay tops, but it's rare. He prefers bottoming.

DelRay has no problems with interracial sex (unlike a lot of gay adult film stars), and loves to suck cock.

He's really skilled at sexual performance, which is unusual for a newcomer (most of whom do not understand the difference between real sex and filmed sex). Unfortunately, he's usually paired with men who are not nearly as skilled, so his scenes can come off as awkward, stilted, and choppy.

I wish he'd leave his pubes alone. His cock is really handsome, and he seems to have an interesting, attractive personality. (Although going by what you see in adult film is never a good idea.)

I don't know why I'm so attracted to well-endowed bottoms. Johnny Rahm, Lon Flexx, Tyler Sweet, Ashton Summers, Michael DelRay. I'm a bottom, so why should I be?? It beggars belief.

I'm sick with a cold. I've been sick since December 30 -- the day I got back from my Montana trip. I had my flu vaccination, so it's not the flu. It's just a minor cold. And yet, I can't seem to shake it. For the first three days, I had no energy and was sleeping 12 hours a day. I didn't have a stuffy nose, but my sinuses were swollen. I had some aches and pains, and my knees hurt awfully. Saturday, I got a sore throat. It continued into Sunday. Today, the sore throat is kind of mostly somewhat gone, but my sinuses are worse and I'm flirting with a headache.

Go away, Mr. Cold!
While in Montana, I visited the historic A.B. Cook Mansion near Canyon Ferry. While leaving the site, I noticed this truck parked across the highway. It was parked really weirdly, so I took a picture.

It took me a moment before I realized that the man had pulled over to let two people out. And they were pissing at the side of the road.

As I watched, the people stopped their public urination, and got back into the truck.

And one of them was wearing as Darth Vader mask.

I swear: This kind of weirdness only happens in Montana...

Saturday, January 2, 2016

January 2, 1920 -- The Palmer Raids begin. Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer orders the wholesale arrest of nearly 50,000 Americans -- all of them union leaders, leftists, anarchists, and communists -- based solely on their political beliefs. Almost none had committed a crime. Most were immigrants, and Palmer openly questioned their loyalty to the United States (without evidence).

Acting Secretary of Labor in Assistant Secretary of Labor Louis Freeland Post stood up to Palmer, and canceled more than 1,140 arrest warrants (arguing they were illegal). Post's action, as well as pressure on state and local authorities, led to the release 6,500 of arrestees. Just 556 resident aliens were deported. Only a handful of American citizens were convicted.

- - - - - -

Since the 1880s, a class war had been raging in the United States. Employers -- particularly those in the iron, coal, steel, and manufacturing sectors -- employed machine guns, tear gas, vomit gas, water cannons, and "company police" (read: armed thugs) to beat workers into submission and prevent the spread of labor unions. Some unions (particularly those in the coal, iron, and steel industries) met violence with violence. Unionists bombed factories and mines, and employers assassinated union leaders. Courts were in lockstep in applying "Lochner-era" Supreme Court rulings, arguing that contract was the utmost right in the United States and that the contract between employer and employee could never be broken.

As labor's troubles worsened, socialist and anarchist political parties formed throughout the United States. As city police, county sheriffs, and state militia eagerly supported employers against labor, many socialists and anarchists shot back and bombed in retaliation against state-initiated violence.

The Russian Revolution occurred in November 1917, deeply alarming American conservatives -- who believed a communist revolution would soon occur in the United States. As World War I raged, Imperial Germany dared not bring troops home from the front line, as the Army was infected with communist ideology. The Kaiser feared they would foment revolution at home and topple the nobility.

In the United States, fears of "disloyalty" were so strong that President Woodrow Wilson pushed through three major laws (the Espionage Act of 1917, the Sedition Act of 1918, and the Immigration Act of 1918) which essentially made it a crime to voice anti-American, anti-British, or pro-German views. Wilson also arrested and deported "resident aliens" (legal immigrants) who in any way refused to support (strongly) American intervention in the war.

The war ended in November 1918, but many nations in Europe were on the verge of revolution. A general strike that had paralyzed the major port of Seattle in February 1919 represented a new development in labor unrest. In October 1919, President Wilson suffered a massive stroke that left him completely incapacitated. His wife, Edith Bolling Galt Wilson, refused to allow anyone to see her husband. It wouldn't be until Febraury 1920 that Wilson would see a small group of outsiders, and not until April 14 that he would meet with his Cabinet (for the first time since August 1919).

As the country drifted, Palmer -- who had ambitions to be President of the United States himself -- saw his chance. Palmer had been appointed Attorney General only on March 5, 1919. But he was the first visitor to see the president after his stroke (on October 30). Palmer helped to whip up the "Red Scare" (the first in American history) to a fever pitch.

It didn't help matters that anarchist Luigi Galleani was just stepping up his bombing campaign against the United States government. Galleanists carried out a series of bombings in April and June 1919. About 30 letter bombs were mailed at the end of April, mostly prominent government officials, businessmen, and law enforcement officials. Only a few reached their targets, and most did not explode when opened. But a few people were injured (most notably Senator Thomas W. Hardwick's housekeeper, who had her hands blown off). On June 2, 1919, a second wave of bombings occurred. Night watchman William Boehner died. Palmer himself was targeted with a mail bomb: It exploded on the front porch, but Palmer and his family were on the second floor and escaped harm.

Fears that anarchists were about to attempt a violent revolution soared. Several of the letter bombs were sent to addresses in Washington, D.C., which "brought the war home" to members of Congress and the administration.

In July, Palmer organized a "test raid" against a small group of anarchists in Buffalo, New York. A federal judge threw out the arrest of three men, arguing that they had the First Amendment right to advocate the overthrow of the government (so long as they did not actually engage in violence). Palmer realized that he needed to target immigrants instead of citizens if his "Red Scare" was going to work.

In August, Palmer organized the General Intelligence Unit (later known as the Federal Bureau of Investigation) within the Department of Justice. He selected Treasury agent J. Edgar Hoover, a 24-year-old law school graduate who had spent the last two years deporting resident aliens, to head it.

In October 1919, the United Mine Workers went out on a nationwide strike. Palmer was infuriated: He invoked the Lever Act, a wartime measure that made it a crime to interfere with the production or transportation of necessities. (Meant to punish hoarding and profiteering, the law had never been used against a union.) Palmer obtained an injunction on October 31 requiring the union to go back to work, but 400,000 coal workers struck the next day. UMWA president John L. Lewis, however, was facing prison for defying the court order. Lewis declared that his union's striking miners were engaged in an illegal act, and he helped to break his own strike in late November. (A final agreement came on December 10.) Secretary of Labor William B. Wilson opposed Palmer's actions in the strike, and was outraged when Palmer publicly declared that "the entire Cabinet" had backed him.

On November 7, four weeks after Wilson's stroke, Palmer began whipping up the "Red Scare". He engineered a second series of test raids against a labor union, the Union of Russian Workers, in 12 cities. Local and state police severely beat union members, and tortured some to obtain "confessions" about revolution. The raids were sloppy: some American citizens of Russian descent were also arrested, most of them passers-by who admitted to being Russian. Others were teachers conducting night classes in the same office building where the union rented space. Deportations were minimal: Just 43 of the 650 arrested in New York City were ejected.

But Palmer was not deterred. He testified before Congress on November 17 that anarchists and "Bolsheviks" were ready to lead a nationwide revolt on May 20, 1920. Palmer specifically targeted African American leaders, whom (he said) were in "open defiance" of the government. (He pointed to race riots that had occurred during the summer.) Using a tactic later used to great effect by Joseph McCarthy 30 years later, he declared that he had amassed a list of 60,000 names of "dangerous radicals" who were conspiring to overthrow the government.

The Palmer Raids went nationwide on January 2, 1920. The majority of raids occurred on January 2, with additional large-scale raids occurring over the next few days. Smaller raids, led by local police, continued over the next six weeks. Raids occurred in more than 30 cities and towns in 23 states. Raids west of the Mississippi and south of the Ohio were "publicity gestures" designed to make the effort appear nationwide in scope. The "serious" raids occurred largely in the Northeast and Ohio.

The raids targeted entire organizations, not just individuals. Their goal was to break political parties, not target crime. Agents arrested everyone found in organization meeting halls or buildings, not just those who actually belongs to a political party or association. Agents arrested mothers, children, visitors, and even janitors. Although the raids were supposed to target immigrants, many American citizens not eligible for deportation were also arrested.

At least 3,000 people were arrested on January 2 alone. Ultimately, more than 10,000 people were arrested. As many as 50,000 had been detained for a few hours or a day or two. Almost none of the raids used a search warrant. The raids exclusively targeted labor unions, anarchist and communist political parties, socialist debating societies, and similar organizations. Perpetrators of right-wing violence, including fascist and dictatorial groups, were ignored. The Justice Department claimed to have discovered numerous bombs. In fact, only a few iron balls were shown to the press; after the first day or two, they were never mentioned again. Four pistols were also seized.

Nearly all the arrestees were held in temporary facilities which were overcrowded and unsanitary. Brutality was common; thousands of detainees and arrestees were severely beaten, and police and Justice Department agents tortured hundreds of individuals in an attempt to wring confessions from them.

The press lauded the raids and Palmer's refusal to uphold constitutional liberties. The "Washington Post" editorialized: "There is no time to waste on hairsplitting over infringement of liberties." Only a handful of leftist publications like "The Nation" and "The New Republic" criticized the Palmer Raids.

But Palmer had widely miscalculated. Federal law gave the Secretary of Labor the power to issue deportation orders, not the Attorney General. Secretary of Labor William B. Wilson found on January 24 that mere membership in the Communist Part of America was grounds for deportation.

But a series of coincidences left Secretary Wilson out of the picture. On March 1, Senator John H. Bankhead of Alabama died, and the Department of Labor's Solicitor General, John Abercrombie, resigned to run for the seat. Wilson took a leave of absence from his job on March 6 to care for his ill mother and wife. This left 70-year-old Louis Freeland Post as Acting Secretary of Labor. Post, who had been Assistant Secretary of Labor since 1913, was a strong liberal and civil rights advocate who had long opposed attacks on leftists and immigrants. Indeed, Post had written in his personal diary on January 1 that the "real" overthrow of the government was being conducted by people like Palmer who were ignoring the Constitution at the behest of financiers and capitalists. Furthermore, the triumphant Palmer had allowed a massive backlog of deportation orders to stack up without processing.

Beginning March 6, the very day Abercrombie resigned and left Post in charge, Post began cancelling deportation orders. Working 12 to 14 hours a day (in addition to his usual work), Post and a private secretary, departmental clerk, and messenger began disposing of the deportations. Wherever evidence had been obtained illegally, or wherever evidence was insufficient, Post cancelled the deportation. Between March 6 and April 10, Post cancelled 1,140 deportation orders. He deported just 160 aliens, and ordered additional hearings in the remaining 300 cases on his desk.

Palmer was outraged. At a Cabinet meeting in April 1920, Palmer demanded that Secretary of Labor Wilson fire Post. But the Secretary of Labor Wilson defended his subordinate. President Wilson, his attention span limited and his stamina low, ended the meeting without a decision. But as he was wheeled out, Wilson cryptically told Palmer that he should "not let this country see red." Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels, who was present at the meeting, considered this a reprimand. Palmer, Daniels said, "was seeing red behind every bush and every demand for an increase in wages."

Meanwhile, J. Edgar Hoover was showing his stripes: As early as January 1920, he began compiling a file on Post and his political leanings, but failed to find evidence of radical connections. Nevertheless, Hoover leaked what he had to the House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization, which then issues a sensationalist report about Post and his deportation cancellations. A firestorm misrepresentation exploded in the press and Congress. But Post had such a stellar character that many members of the House defended him. On April 15, 1920, Rep. Homer Hoch (R-Kan.) called for his impeachment. The House Rules Committee asked President Wilson to fire him. Post requested and was granted a chance to testify and defend himself before the Rule Committee. Beginning April 30, he delivered a seven-hour-per-day, nine-day-long, caustic attack on Attorney General Palmer and others who had led the "Red Scare". Post's testimony was so effective that Rep. Edward W. Pou (D-NC), an ardent supporter of the Red Scare campaign, praised Post and left the room in stunned silence.

No further action was taken against Post. He retired in 1923, and died in Washington, D.C., in 1928.

In June 1920, Massachusetts District Court Judge George Anderson ordered the release of the last remaining arrested aliens and denounced the Department of Justice: "[A] mob is a mob, whether made up of Government officials acting under instructions from the Department of Justice, or of criminals and loafers and the vicious classes." Judge Anderson's decision effectively ended the Palmer Raids.

Palmer and Hoover tried to keep up the "Red Scare" by focusing on the May 20 "revolution" being planned. When the day came and went without incident, the press excoriated Palmer and ridiculed him at length. (The anarchist bombing campaign continued intermittently for another 12 years.)

Palmer hoped that his raids would catapult him to the Presidency. He ran for the the Democratic Party nomination in 1920, proclaiming "I am myself an American and I love to preach my doctrine before undiluted one hundred percent Americans, because my platform is, in a word, undiluted Americanism and undying loyalty to the republic." The press laughed at him: "We assumed, of course, from the tone of Mr. Palmer's manifesto that his opponents for the nomination were Rumanians, Greeks and Icelanders, and weak-kneed ones at that....We happened into Cox's headquarters wholly by accident and were astounded to discover that he, too, is an American. ... Thus encouraged we went to all camps and found that the candidates are all Americans." Nevertheless, Palmer ran a respectable third until his support collapsed late in the convention and the nomination went to Ohio Governor James Cox.

Resigning on March 4, 1921, Palmer went into private practice. He tried to re-enter politics by becoming an early supporter of New York Governor Al Smith when he ran for the Democratic nomination in 1928.

Palmer died on May 11, 1936, in Washington, D.C., from a heart attack precipitated by an appendectomy two weeks earlier.

His actions in the Palmer Raids are widely seen as one of the most extreme violations of American civil liberaties in U.S. history. He is widely dismissed as an Attorney General for his mendacity and scheming, and for engineering the Palmer Raids as a means of advancing his political ambitions.