Sunday, February 24, 2013

Documentary: Joni Mitchell: Woman of Heart and Mind (tp mmboe)

This is the second documentary I have watched this week.  They let me know where the music I liked growing up came from.  Joni Mitchell wrote "Both Sides Now" one of my favorite songs.

Both Sides Now

Bows and flows of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I've looked at clouds that way

But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way

I've looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It's cloud illusions I recall
I really don't know clouds at all

Moons and Junes and Ferris wheels
The dizzy dancing way you feel
As every fairy tale comes real
I've looked at love that way

But now it's just another show
You leave 'em laughing when you go
And if you care, don't let them know
Don't give yourself away

I've looked at love from both sides now
From give and take, and still somehow
It's love's illusions I recall
I really don't know love at all

Tears and fears and feeling proud
To say "I love you" right out loud
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds
I've looked at life that way

Oh but now old friends are acting strange
They shake their heads, they say I've changed
Well something's lost but something's gained
In living every day

I've looked at life from both sides now
From WIN and LOSE and still somehow
It's life's illusions I recall
I really don't know life at all

I've looked at life from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It's life's illusions I recall
I really don't know life at all

Joni Mitchell was first a poet, and it shows in her music.  It reads like poetry, and painted images.  She in fact was also an artist, and sometimes painted her album covers. 

Joni Mitchell was born Joni Anderson.  She is from Canada.  while young she had polio.  She was told if she didn't improve she might might end up in an iron lung.  She began to sing to improve her lungs.  After her bout with polio, she was no longer competitive at sports so turned to music.  She started with the Ukulele.  She had to develop alternative guitar tunings and different ways of making chords due to weakness in her fingers. 
Her original music would be called fold music.  She told stories with her music.  She started as a solo act; she, her instrument (piano, guitar, ukelele, dulcimer or auto harp) and her vocals.  Later she would add band, drum and guitar.  She achieved her greatest critical acclaim for the album "Blue."
Another of her popular songs is Big Yellow Taxi,
"Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got til it's gone
They paved paradise and put up a parking lot

Joni Mitchell is a smoker, which shows in the documentary.  Sometimes her self portraits include her cigarette.  She is still playing and writing.  She won a Grammy in 2007 "One Week last Summer."

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Nazis, the Jews and the Danish People

The Nazis, the Jews and the Danish People
I recently read a children’s book “Number the Stars,” and was introduced to a story I had not heard of, or if I had heard of it I had forgotten.  Denmark was occupied by Germany from 1940-1945.  During this time, the Danish government was allowed to remain in place, supervised by Germany.  The Germans planned to relocate the Jewish people of Denmark on Oct 1, 1943.  A German maritime attaché Georg Duckwitz leaked this information to the Danish government.  Two days before the move, the Jewish people were informed of these plans.  Ships were in the harbor waiting to take them.   However, when the day came the Nazis were frustrated. 
The Jewish people were hidden by their neighbors.  There was a deep sense among the Danish people that it was wrong to treat others differently because of their ethnicity.  There was a resistance movement in place, that helped with this, however many different people were heroes in this effort.  The fishermen of Gilleleje transported at least a quarter of those who escaped in their boats to Sweden.  They would hide in the hulls of the ships, behind false walls.  There were over 7000 Jews in Denmark, and less than 500 of them were captured by the Nazis and removed. 
The author of the book, “Number the Stars,” Lois Lowry, tells the story of how several of the Jewish families were found in the boats using dogs.  When this happened the scientist of Denmark developed a solutions, using a handkerchief and which the put rabbits blood and cocaine.  The rabbit’s blood would attract the dogs’ attention.  They would then sniff closely and the cocaine would affect their olfactory senses such that they were unable to detect the people hidden in the hulls of the boats. 
Those of the Danish Jews who were relocated, were not forgotten by the Danish people.  They followed them and provided food shipments and medicines and vitamins.  They wrote to government officials asking for their return, and made sure they were not lost.  As such, very few of them were actually executed.  Most of them were able to return home at the end of the war.
Lowry also talked about the resistance movement in Denmark, mostly young people.  One of the characters in the book is based on a young man, Kim Malthe-Bruun who was caught and executed by the Nazis when he was 21.  He wrote a letter to his mother before he was killed. 
…and I want you all to remember—that you must not dream yourselves back to the times before the war, but the dream for you all, young and old, must be to create an ideal of human decency, and not a narrow-minded and prejudiced one.  That is the great gift our country hungers for, something every little peasant boy can look forward to, and with pleasure feel he is a part of—something he can work and fight for.
I feel I have learned something from these people of Denmark.  That there is a time to take a stand and say “no” to evil.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Movie Review ***^Bee Gees: In Our Own Time (ro mmboe)

This documentary movie is available through instant Netflix.  This tells a story of success, several times over, but it is also a tragic story in the end.  The bulk of this documentary was made before the death of Maurice Gibbs, but even before that, it tells the tragic life of Andy Gibbs.  Andy’s life went the way of a successful musician who had gone over the edge with drugs.  It is a story we hear too often.  He was very talented and although he never became an official member to the Bee Gees, the opportunity was there for him, and he often performed with them. 
On the other hand, Maurice had his run in with alcohol.  Fortunately a family intervention got him into rehab and he was able to turn his life around.  However, at age 50 he went to the hospital with stomach pain on Wednesday, did not get better, and died of cardiac arrest during surgery on Saturday.  Maurice is intervened with his brother for much of the show, and then he isn’t there for the end. 
The other tragedy is the death of Robin Gibbs, after the making of this movie, to liver cancer in 2010.  Barry is the only surviving brother, and he is the oldest.
Things about the Bee Gees I did not know:
They started their career in Australia.
Maurice and Robin were twins and Barry three years older.
They were taken in by the same producer as the Beatles.
(This explains why they did the rock musical Lonely Hearts club band singing all Beatles songs.)
They broke up early on, and couldn’t even talk to each other for a while.  They then got together after a year with renewed energy.
They lived in Florida which gave them another new life.
They wrote and produced Saturday Night Fever for the movie, which became the second highest grossing album of all time 35 million, after Thriller at 60 million.
They were not just performers, but also song writers, and wrote for other artists.
They are in the top five of most albums sold, over 200 million.
They wrote the song Grease.

The Bee Gees were known for their falsetto voices, which wasn’t always the case.  Originally they were known for their harmonies, which was always a trade mark.  Maurice focused more on instrumentals than his brothers, although they all played.  Later in their career Robin never played. 

These three brothers had something special.  They started singing together when they were six and nine respectfully.  They discovered they could make harmonies together.  There career spanned almost fifty years together.  They saw many different eras of music from early rock and roll, harder rock and roll, rhythm and Blues, disco etc.  They have blessed many lives with their music, love songs like “How Deep is Your Love?” rhythmic music like “Jive Talkin” and classics like “Stayin Alive”.  As I watched this, I had a lot of that was theirs? moments.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Teton Pass Photos

Vernal Wardle and Joe Cleavinger

Wilford Wardle driving the team, Twin Slides area

Twin Slides area

Wilford working on road

Grandfather Wilford at the plow
My grandfather and many of his brothers, as well as my great grandfather William Haston Wardle helped build a road over Teton Pass 1915, 1916.  It is not the pass that is used now, but would be an older road.As you can see road building was much different 100 years ago.

Road Camp: Pine Creek 1927

I thought these were depression era pictures, but in looking closer at the back they are dated 1927, predating the depression.  The note included identifies my grandfather as to the left of the man with the rolling pin.  I know grandfather took jobs as they were available, including depression era work camps.  In addition to this road, he also worked on the road from Teton Basin to Jackson Hole.  You can see shovels and axes, very basic tools for road building.  I assume the man with the rolling pin is a cook.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Chapter Review: History of Utah: Utah War

History Of Utah, 1540-1886 was written by  Hubert Howe BancroftThere are a couple of chapters in this book which deal with the Utah War.  This is a much better resource than Wikipedia where someone quotes very poor source material.  However this source is also quoted.  The account of the Utah war is very interesting.  It relates the issues which lead up to President Buchanan sending the troops over 2000 miles to Salt Lake City.  His decision was made mostly in response to the testimony of the territorial judges.  There was conflict between local Mormon Probate judges and the federal appointed judges.  Judge W.W. Drummond was the worse of the federal judges.  He had left his wife in the Midwest, and brought with him a mistress.  He had come to Utah to make money.  He did not last long, but in the letter of resignation made many unfounded claims against the Mormons.

Brigham Young learned that the U.S. was moving on the Saints at a party July 24 commemorating the entry of the Mormons to Salt Lake Valley ten years earlier.  He had predicted they needed ten years to establish themselves, and that is what they were given.  The troops were coming with a new governor to replace Brigham Young.

The initial reaction of the Mormons was one of defiance.  However by the time the U.S. Army approached, they had changed from an attitude of one of confrontation to one of harassment.  President/General Daniel H. Well was sent forward with a group of riders with instructions to harass, but avoid conflict and bloodshed.  As such they burned Fort Bridger and Fort Supply.  The also took a scorched earth policy, burning the grass, limiting feed for the army's livestock. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Documentary Movie Review: *****The Battle for Midway: National Geographic

This documentary tells three stories, the search for the sunken carriers, Japanese and American, the reaction of veterans of the battle, overlapped with the historical story of the battle.  This battle took place only four months after Pearl Harbor.  The Japanese thought the Americans were down to two carriers.  However the Yorktown was repaired in Hawaii in just three days.  The Americans had an advantage, in that they had deciphered Japanese code, and knew where the Japanese would be, attacking the island of Midway.  On the morning of June 4, the Japanese attacked.  The U.S. counter attacked from the carriers.  The initial attacks were unsuccessful as the torpedo crews were devastated.  Of the crews, only a handful survived.  However when the Japanese fighters were chasing them, the dive bombers were able to attack free from fighters, and destroyed three of the four Japanese carriers.

A subsequent attack against the Yorktown crippled it with both dive bombers and torpedo planes.  As it limped back to Hawaii it was downed by submarine torpedoes.

Subsequent attacks finished off the last Japanese carrier.  The battle had a precarious balance at several stages.  The five minutes of the dive bomb attack changed the battle, and possibly history.

They did find the Yorktown, but not the Japanese carriers.  I really enjoyed this movie, especially the story of the battle.  I must admit, seeing the Yorktown after over 50 years was pretty exciting.  You could see the anti-aircraft guns on the deck.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Movie Review: ***^The American Experience: The Donner Party

I checked this movie out from Manteca Library.  It was made in 1992. It is a Ric Burns film and has that feel and tone. The movie tells the very bleak story of the Donner Party.  The made a very crucial decision to go south with a new untried route (Hastings Cutoff), which they hoped would be a shortcut, but turned out to be a long-cut over more serious terrain.  Because it was untried they had to chop a trail through Emigration Canyon.  Then the salt flats were not kind to them as wagons became stuck in the mud.  They arrived at the Sierra late in the year.  They started up the summit, but were caught by snow storm before they could reach the top.  Stuck in the snow, the movie explains why help was so slow in coming to them.  It also talks extensively about cannibalism, and that almost all the families but one engaged in this.  In one case, a couple Indian guides were murdered and eaten.  In the end, 41 of the immigrants perished.  46 survived.

This movie has a very professional feel.  It uses dramatic readings of journals, letters and histories.  It used modern filming of the area, as well as pictures of the places they passed.  It tells its story well.  However I wish it hadn't focused so much on cannibalism.

Archeological data point to a lesser degree of consumption of human flesh than first thought.  However the family dogs were eaten.
There was cannibalism among the "forlorn hope," a group that walked out seeking help.  This group also included the Native Americans who were murdered.

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Illness of David H. Smith, Son of the Prophet

David H. Smith is the son of Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet.  He was born five months after Joseph was assassinated by a mob in Carthage, Illinois 17 November, 1844.  David had a hard childhood.  His mother remarried, and he did not think highly of his stepfather.  He was also a pensive child, enjoying nature, have a special spot near Nauvoo where he would go and meditate.  He would listen to the birds, and there was a waterfall there he enjoyed.
David Smith became involved with the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, eventually becoming a counselor to his brother, the prophet president Joseph Smith III.  His older brother Alexander was also a counselor.  However the purpose of this writing is to explore David’s illness. 
David went on two missions to Utah.  Bother of which resulted in “brain fever. “  He ws hospitalized in san Francisco after his first visit, and then returned to the Midwest.  (F. Mark McKiernan, David H. Smith: A Son of the Prophet)  After returning from the first mission, he wrote a poem of discontent:
Let me be happy too. Oh! Restless soul
Fold they quick limbs and rest from care a while;
Watch the great clouds in fleecy volumes roll;
The lakelet in the sunshine seems to smile;--
Would God my friends were here to shar my thought—
Would I could find the rest I long have sought.

    Would I could speak the language of the hills
Would their plush velvet grace I could make known;
Could I translate the talking of the rills
That from their crowning dimples wander down—
I would not sing, and I yet I can not cease;
I can not murmur, yet I have no peace. 
(David H. Smith and Elbert A. Hesperis as quoted by Paul Edwards, BYU Studies 1972)

David’s illness began while he was in his twenties.  He seemed to recompose somewhat.  He married  Clara Charlotte Hartshorn and a son, Elbert Aorivl was born to this union.  (Edwards) 

He returned to Utah for another mission.  This mission too ended in his progressively getting ill.  On this second mission he was also subject to the spiritualistic tendencies of his companion.  “In 1872 David H. Smith was accompanied by Amasa M. Lyman, ex-Mormon apostle, to Cache Valley.  Meetings were held in Brigham City, Providence, Logan and Franklin.  Lyman at this time was practicing spiritualism and séances were held by the group.  The strain of the mission, accompanied by the by the effect of the spiritualist séances lead David Smith to a physical and spiritual break down.  David H. Smith was returned to the Midwest by Josiah Ells.  (unpublished article by the author available USU Library Special Collections, 1981)
His brother Joseph Smith also felt spiritualism had something to do with his breakdown.  “Years later, Joseph was to write in his account of the church that David had become associated with spiritualists in Salt Lake City and later in Malad, Idaho, when in that area in the 1870s.  He felt that somehow this was connected with his concern over the manifestations of the spirit, which grew out of hand.  (Paul Edwards, BYU Studies 1972)
After his second mission, while he was recovering, David began to realize things were not right.  He penned this poem:
I am Not As I Was
I am not as I was, she said, and bowed,
   The frosts have been upon me; and the wind
Of this world’s winter,-stormy, fierce and loud-
   Has touched my forehead roughly; and unkind
The will of fare has been.  I once was proud,
   With a sweet pride, and pleasure filled my mind.

Now I am broken’ and the tresses, then
   So free and flowing, wander now no more
In their old fashion, but seem dead; and when
   I look into my mirror for the eyes of yore
Those of a stranger answer me.  Ne’er again
   Can I recall the light that shone before.

The fair brief morning of my life is passed;
   Its wings of rainbow brightness were too swift;-
A change has crept over my soul at last;-
   The clouds band low that o’ver my landscape drift;
The beauty and glory round me case
   By Youth’s roseate dreams, begin to lift.

I strive to win again the pleasant thought;
   The music only speaks in mournful tone;
The very flowers wear a shade, and nought
   Can bring the halo that is gone;
And every company my soul hath sought,
   Though crowds surround me, finds me still alone.

I turn unto my tasks with weary hands,
   Grieving with sadness, knowing not the cause;
Before my face a desert path expands,
   I will not falter in the toil, nor pause;
Only, my spirit somehow understand
   The mournful truth-I am not what I was.  (Smith)
This poem gives us an idea of the progression of David’s illness.  Even so, he was confirmed a member of the first presidency of the Reorganization after his return, 3 March 1873.  However his health continued to deteriorate.  “He was finally taken to Alexander’s farm in Illinois in 1876 to recuperate.  He had a fixed delusion that he was director-owner of a large railroad company.  He would send numerous telegrams with regards to this.  He would also misuse railroad worker.  The town was very disturbed by his actions.  When Joseph came to visit, they encouraged him to have his brother institutionalized.  On 10 January 1877 he was committed to the Illinois Hospital for the insane.  (Edwards)
David had periods of more lucid behavior and thought, and periods when he did not.  The Reorganized church became concerned for his health and had a general fast in 1885.  However this same year, he was relieved of his position as counselor in the presidency.  He continued at the asylum the remainder of his life.  He passed away 29 August 1904 after 27 years in the Illinois Hospital. The cause of his death was directly related to his illness, which was described as “Melancholia Dementia.”  (Edwards)  Melancholia and Dementia were popular terms at the time.  The other diagnosis often used was mania.  This was not used to describe him.  Melancholia referred during the period to depressive conditions.  Dementia would refer to deterioration of the mind.  Calling his illness Melancholia Dementia they are indicating that his depression affected his mind.  Such happens even today and would either be called depression with psychotic features or depression with catatonic features.   As observed in this writing, it would appear David had traits of both depression as well as psychotic issues. 
David left behind a widow and a son.  He also left behind legacy in artwork and poetry.