An end of year rant…

Played Team Trivial Pursuit again the other night…. There was this question: “Who was president of the US when Iowa became a territory?” (My memory of the wording of the question may not be exactly right.) Our team (just three guys this time, including myself) conferred—Well, it was part of the Louisiana Purchase, was it not? So that would be Jefferson. Yes, indeed. But, I thought, that wasn’t sufficiently correct. Iowa actually became a Territory in, I believed, the 1830s; so I was thinking maybe John Tyler? Wasn’t he a little later than the 30s? Well, you may be right, I’m guessing, say 1836 for Iowa, so who was pres then? I don’t know. Some further conferring. We settled, uncertainly, on Martin Van Buren.

The answer the mc was looking for was Thomas Jefferson (Louisiana Purchase). But when I got home I looked it up: Sure, Iowa was part of Jefferson’s purchase, that much we all knew; but Iowa became Iowa Territory in 1838 and remained so until it joined the Union as a state in 1846. Who was pres when it became Iowa Territory? Martin Van Buren (pres 1837-1841). What about John Tyler? He was pres from 1841-1845. In between Van Buren and Tyler, Wm Henry Harrison held the office very briefly in 1841. Iowa ceased to be a Territory under Tyler’s successor, James Polk 1845-1849. How often do you get to see or hear the name James Polk? Why would one? (See video at end of this post with Professor Corey, our nation’s greatest academic).

This was the only question I found to be particularly interesting that night, and is typical of why I find Team Trivial Pursuit rather boring most of the time. I like being out with friends, and meeting other players, but the game itself I find just lacking. I’ve always felt that parlour games are what people do who don’t know how to have good conversations. Team Trivial Pursuit seems ideal to stimulate conversation, but of course it’s mostly impossible to converse to any extent while also playing the game, so…

“Half-breed Tracts”
That one question, however, did prompt me to revisit a rarely-known, never-remembered little corner of American historical weirdness—the brief existence of Federally-established reservation-lands not for Indian tribes, but for populations of “half-breeds,” métis populations considered neither Indians nor whites because they were the offspring of “mixed parenting partnerships.” There were a handful of these reservations, officially known as “Half-breed Tracts,” temporarily created by the US government scattered across half a dozen or more territories and states.

These peculiar reservations didn’t last long. Because: (a) the people given these lands/forced onto these reservations/ concentration camps (as in the population being concentrated onto undeveloped land where they were forced to set up camps in which to try to survive) were not cohesive communities, unlike the tribes that one half of their parentage came from; (b) the land was allotted in parcels to individuals, not to their shared “community”, they were allowed to sell their individual parcels and many of them did, as it wasn’t land they felt any great affinity for, and they desperately needed the cash as they often had no particular way to make a living on these unfamiliar, barren tracts; (c) encroaching white settlers, who far outnumbered the population of “half-breed” recipients of these tracts of land, were seldom inclined to refrain from simply stealing the land by moving onto it (squatting) and refusing to leave; (d) the Federal government was far away, and together with what local state or territorial governments existed, were quite happy to see the encroaching/exploding white settler population simply take over the tracts—less trouble and expense for the government if the half-breed “wards” were run-off or simply murdered-off. “Who cares about these half-breeds anyway? Even the Indians don’t want them, and decent white folks certainly don’t want them in the area, or the next area, or anywhere. Let us be rid of them once and for all.”

It was a pretty ugly situation, even if the initial Federal intention in setting aside the tracts was in some ways a (conditionally) humane response to a virtually impossible situation. Any humane solution was made highly implausible by the deeply ingrained racist and imperialist mind-set/worldview shared among the white population in general (and thus also by the Federal government), a mindset that was being strategically carried out by government at all levels as a virtually religious agenda deeply dedicated to the violent confiscation of all land occupied by Native nations, and even to the purposeful elimination/ extermination of the remaining Native population.

At least one of these “half-breed tracts” (section 120 on map above) was momentarily carved out of the extreme southeastern bottom corner of Iowa Territory, centered in what became the town of Keokuk, named after the famous Sauk chief. He was eventually removed to Oklahoma Indian Territory, his nation’s homelands in Iowa stolen by the combined forces of popular white invasion and Government agenda of eliminating all Indians outside of Oklahoma.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keokuk_%28Sauk_leader%29

http://www.loc.gov/item/rbpe.01903700/

As I’ve mentioned here in an earlier post, some of my ancestors were Indians of various tribal Nations, and after a certain time some ancestors, obviously, were Métis. One particular line of these forebears of mine were what were then sometimes called “Creek-Métis”—offspring of marriages between women of the Creek Confederation and men from Scotland, Ireland, France & England who had been more or less accepted within the Nation through such marriages. The children born of such marriages were fully accepted within Creek matrilineal culture as “fully Creek”, not as “half-breeds.” The Creek attitude was, “Sure the fathers of such children started life as foreigners to our Nation, but these children were born to Creek mothers, so of course they are simply and fully Creek themselves.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AlabamaCoushatta_Tribe_of_Texas

Indian tribal Nations with customs of patrilineal descent viewed the children born of women within their tribes as belonging to the tribal or ethnic national identity of their fathers, not of their mothers. If the children’s fathers were outsiders, so where the children. If such children were not accepted into the white society of their fathers, then they needed to have “half-breed tracts” of land reserved for themselves, because they had no place in the tribal society of their mothers. The bias within such patrilineal tribes was thus the opposite of Creek society. I do not wish to imply that Creek customs were morally superior to those of patrilineal tribal nations. But as the majority of children of “mixed” parentage in either case were from Indian mothers and non-Indian fathers, métis populations did not present the same problem for Creek society that they did for patrilineal tribes.

I have Indian ancestors who belonged to various tribes and who intermarried with various non-Indians. But those of my Creek and Creek-Métis direct forebears who survived the Creek Civil War (Red-Stick War) and the overlapping US vs Creek Wars were members and relatives of the Koasati (Coushatta) tribe within the Creek Confederation. This tribe was closely allied with and related to the Alubami (Alabama) tribe. They managed to avoid the forced march along the Trail of Tears from Georgia-Alabama to Oklahoma by migrating/escaping through Mississippi into Louisiana and eventually to Texas, territory then under Spanish control. These ancestors are my mother’s matrilineal Creek (Koasati) line of descent. Her forebears can be traced back historically through eleven generations of Koasati Creek women documented to the 1690s. This family line of mothers and daughters were regarded as the hereditary civil and traditional spiritual leaders of their highly organized tribal culture and society.

As far as I know, none of my ancestors—Indian, white, or métis—were from the Iowa Territory, so I have no known direct historical family connection to Iowa’s briefly-existent “Half-breed Tracts.” I just find those and the other briefly-existing “Half-breed Tracts” reserved in various parts of the foreign territories that the US was brutally invading, occupying and confiscating from Native nations to be a luridly fascinating, horrifically shocking brief “chapter” in our overall unspeakable history.

From my experience, I would assess that the vast majority of non-Native (non-Indian) people in the US still think that (“illegal immigrant”) white Europeans and white Euro-Americans had and still have every moral and legal right to simply invade and massacre the 500 or so Native tribal nations who once existed from coast to coast across what is now the “lower 48 states of the USA,” and to force those extremely few natives they allowed to survive into population-concentrating camps and there to be imprisoned on usually the least-hospitable tiny little “islands” of waste-land imaginable. (Only in relatively recent times were persons forced onto these “reservations” legally allowed to leave at will even for part of a day, much less relocate & reside elsewhere wherever they wished.)

NO one (non-Indian) ever seems to really be able to honestly think and discuss, to comprehend or question, what the moral/ethical implications are that allowed this to take place. To take place not just in the days of George Washington, who personally ordered the extermination of the populations of over a dozen towns of US-friendly Iroquois—thus earning his Iroquois name “Town-Destroyer”). And not just in the days of Lincoln who as a young farmer heeded the call from his Territorial government to volunteer in a war against local Indian nations with a promise of being paid with personal shares of whatever real estate would be gained by killing and/or driving off the Native owners of land which the Territory wished to acquire through such armed robbery, terror and full-scale mass murder. Gaining this “free” real estate as a pay-reward for his voluntary military “service” in a war of genocide against his Native neighbours was the basis of Lincoln’s subsequent wealth. And not just in the days of Teddy Roosevelt who “complained” in his frequent talks and best-selling books that, “while I hate to repeat the phrase, ‘the only good Indian is a dead Indian,’ I’m afraid it’s true….” And not only into the 1970s and 90s (that’s right, not the 1670s or 1890s, but the 1990s), when Native nations were still prohibited by special Federal ‘Indian Problem’ laws from freely practicing their religions—the only population group (so far!) to have their first amendment rights prohibited by special federal law. No, not just in the distant or recent past, but even right now, no non-Indians ever seem to really process and acknowledge the real history and real present-day actual situation within the United States and its relations with its own indigenous population, living population and dead population…

It’s one thing not to feel any urge to do anything about it, it’s yet another thing not to want to think about, or critically assess, this ongoing collectively subconsciously “suppressed” history— much like the situation with the history of slavery and its ongoing legacy, and the ongoing history of foreign wars and their legacy.

http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2012/09/28/u-s-anti-indian-law-question-legitimacy

None of this, of course, has anything to do with the indoor nonviolent sport of TTP—Team Trivial Pursuit. Which is part of the problem. Which is really only a side-stream point of my rantings in this post. I don’t want TTP to become rather a forum for stimulating actual thought and conversation—though I see nothing wrong with that!learning can be fun, too!  And naturally, I realize the purpose in keeping the range within which TTP is conceived, constructed, and played is not in anyway nefarious!  Of course it has to be fairly simple and superficial—it’s played in sports bars, after all, and is open to the public. And I do not think some sort of academic or selectively “conscience-stimulating” version of the game would be necessarily a big improvement! (Or perhaps not a big enough improvement; and certainly not much fun for most people who play games, especially bar-games.)

I’m just ranting about how an extremely minor, overly-simplified question and answer prompted me to do a little refresher-research (a good result), which led me to remember and learn a bit more about “Half-breed Tract” reservations (learning is growing), which made me think yet again as I actually very often do about American Indian-related things including Native Rights, and the entire darkly-clouded ongoing history of the US and it’s bizarre and so often unspeakable legacy and current state of affairs. Which of course is always sad, and one of the biggest reasons, no doubt, most good people rarely want to think about it. It’s overwhelming, and little if anything can be done about the past, per se, and few have any idea how to begin to do anything meaningful about the present and future as related to past and ongoing injustice, genocide, and other forms of domestic and foreign terrorism and terror-extending wars.

I’m certain the majority of people everywhere, including those of us in America, really are sincerely interested in creating peace, they just don’t know how we would possibly go about it. Meanwhile they are working hard everyday, and trying to find a little relief with things like drinking and sometimes playing Team Trivial Pursuit. Especially those who don’t know how to have wonderful conversations.

And here I am; and where do I “fit in”? Fortunately I’ve never had any interest in “fitting in.” The very idea is in fact utterly foreign to me. Oh, I see it, I understand it (I think), I feel for those who yearn for it, and I pity those who just take it for granted, and especially those who actually think it is somehow inherently virtuous (not just a convenience or an arbitrary artifact or a sometimes pleasant thing to have going—it saves so much wear and tear if you just fit in). But fit in with what? I simply do not share the—I won’t say “values”, and not even altogether the “interests”, but I will say I do not share at least the same “tastes” of mainstream American culture…. If I’m thereby a “taste”/aesthetics snob, rather than an “interests”/ hobbies/hobbyhorse/nerd-geek snob, or rather than (oh horrors! Heaven forfend!) a “values” snob, then so be it…

You can’t keep growing and not have some actual improvement in the things you find yourself naturally drawn to spend your time and energy and awareness focusing on, thinking about, enjoying, being immersed/engaged in doing related to such tastes/interests/values. Spiritual growth (ie conscious evolution, unfoldment of one’s full personal human potential for holistic awareness-&-values-&-behaviour) involves actual improvement of such things over what was lived in previous, lesser stages of personal development,–or what is such growth good for, really?

Of course, in some cases, a “less-evolved” person may already have extremely high standards, extremely refined morals, tastes, etc., and his or her further evolution may have more to do with gaining an enriched ability to more creatively/ effectively/holistically act on, engage with, and enjoy his or her already-established highly refined tastes, interests, values. But as such a person goes along the path of their own greater unfolding evolution,—while they hopefully are gaining a sufficiently improved ability to “get along” with most people (if that needed improvement),—obviously their own increasingly higher standards and more rarefied interests are going to result in their “fitting in” less and less, at any deeply significant level, with the mainstream pop cultural/social/political/religious values and interests and personal “horizons” of their “less-evolved (less-swiftly progressing) neighbours….

More consciously-advancing persons are going to gain greater empathetic insight into and greater compassion, loving-kindess, and friendliness toward their neighbours, of course. But they are going to have less and less the same type of superficial cultural/ intellectual/ creative-aesthetic interests and tastes. And I would add, romantic/sexual interests and tastes and values. It will be harder and more rare for such persons to find true companions (whether platonic or more intimate) on anything like a widely-shared equal-engagement in many overlapping interests in life. “Your standards are becoming more discriminating,” as Maharishi remarked to a student who lamented that it was becoming harder to find a suitable-seeming partner in life. Yes, naturally.

What does all this have to do with playing an occasional innocent fun game of Team Trivial Pursuit with some friends? Very little, obviously. And yet also perhaps a little something of some sort. Maybe something significant enough to think about momentarily. Or not.

I’m afraid I make playing the game sound far too drear or silly. Actually it can be quite fun at times. But all in all, I’d much rather be having a night out with these same and/or other friends new and old to chat about whatever comes to mind, rather than to play this or any other conversation-obstructing/ -avoiding game.

Team Trivial Pursuit might touch, just glancingly, for a moment here and there, on some factoid or other which I may happen to find interesting. When did Iowa become a Territory? Just not enough to hold my interest throughout an entire session. And certainly such questions never deliberately raise any concerns about humane values. Obviously. It’s just about matching random sets of factoids totally free from content or concern. That’s what makes it fun for the largest number of people attracted to play. Can’t skim our shared human cultural experience more superficially than that! Want another beer?

Too often the questions are about popular commercial and college team sports—about which I happen to know nothing and care even less. Nothing “wrong” with that per se, and it might be slightly more engaging, for me, if the categories were about topics interesting enough for me to have stored up some factoid-informedness. But alas, not. Other most frequently featured categories are recent and current TV shows and recent and current pop music entertainers. I possess no factoid-worthy interest or knowledge about these categories either, and unfortunately for the chances of our winning any sessions, neither do most of my various teammates.

So, I spend more time ranting randomly on sites such as this blog! Knowing full well that there are extremely few, if any, persons who are going to share with me any interest in the kinds of things I write about here.

Meanwhile….having gone to see the new Star Wars movie, and having mentioned it in an earlier rant posted to this site, I noticed today that Carrie Fisher is not the only veteran celeb to give advice to the new Star Wars heroine, Daisy (Rey) Ridley. It seems Kristen Stewart also has offered some words of advice to her new compeer. I found them insightful and thought-provoking.

“As somebody who’s dealt with the more absurd, really surreal, oftentimes insanely superficial, empty circus of what the media can be — and perception versus reality — I thought it was really funny and appropriate for me to play that part,” she says [of giving advice to Ridley].

And social media is still a mystery to the notoriously private star.
“I’ve never fed into it. I’ve never had a public Twitter, I’ve never had a public Facebook or things where people go on and look at your every move, like Instagram and stuff like that, because it’s just so empty and distracting,” Stewart says bluntly. “I don’t understand how so many people don’t view it as what it is, which is nothing at all. It’s just nothing, all of it — it doesn’t exist. And so yeah, it’s weird — but it makes sense.”
“It supports a demand from a lot of bored people,” she further explains. “[It produces] a lot of money, a lot of hits on websites.”

https://www.yahoo.com/tv/kristen-stewart-gives-perfect-advice-173500015.html

^^^     ^^^

Professor Corey does mention President Polk at about 4:56

^^^   ^^^   ^^^

December saints…

 

St Egwin obtaining the grant of the land from King Æthelred of Mercia, his kinsman, supporter and friend; on this land in 701 Egwin founded Evesham Abbey. The king later abdicated to become a humble monk at another abbey he had deeded and supported.

12/30
St Egwin (-717), generation 43 uncle.
Prince of Anglo-Saxon (English) Kingdom of Mercia, founding abbot of Evesham Abbey, bishop of Worcester, England.

Recognized during his lifetime as a miracle-worker, St Egwin  is a patron saint of married couples, protector of orphans and widows, and judges.

chapel altar at Evesham Abbey, founded by St Egwin

^^^  ^^^

12/27
Bl Adelheidis (Adelaide) of Tennenbach (-1273), generation 25 aunt-cousin.
Blessed Adelheidis was born into an aristocratic German family. She became a Benedictine (Cistercian) nun and recluse at Tennenbach Abbey. The Cistericians (Trappists) are a contemplative reform branch of the Benedictine order of monks and nuns. Until recent decades, members of the order were strictly cloistered and took vows of perpetual silence. Historically, some members lived as solitary recluses or hermits, usually within the abbey grounds, but sometimes independently. This practice died out until it was revived by the American Trappist monk Thomas Merton (1915-1968) who became a hermit in Kentucky.
Blessed Adelheidis was born at Thöningen, Germany; she died of natural causes on December 27, 1273 at Tennenbach Abbey in Germany.

^^^   ^^^ ^^^

Christmas ancestor saints

(Playing catch-up with my listing of ancestors of mine who are canonized saints with commemorative feast-days [holy-days] falling in December.  …The order of my posts does not track with the calendar of their December feast-days…)

12/26
St Tathyw (c460-) aka Tathey, Tathai, Tathan of Gwent (Wales), generation 51 cousin. 

From same family of several saints related (over several generations) to both St Patrick and St Judicael, among others. Tathyw founded at least one abbey in Wales and also later lived as a recluse.

^^^

12/25
St Alburga of Wilton (-810), generation 40 ancestral aunt.
Abbess and foundress, born a princess in Wessex, England, the sister of King Egbert of Wessex.
King Egbert (771/775–839), aka Ecgberht, Ecgbert, or Ecgbriht, King of Wessex, was grandfather of King Saint Alfred the Great, making St Alburga great aunt to Alfred.
“Saint Alburga displayed piety at an early age. She was married to Wulfstan of Wiltshire as part of a political alliance. She founded Wilton Abbey while married to Wulfstan. Upon his death, Alburga retired to Wilton and became the abbess.”

^^^

12/25
St Adelsinde (Adalsindis) (-715), generation 44 aunt.
Saint Adelsinde’s aristocratic parents Adalbald and Rictrudis, and her several siblings, were canonized saints. She entered the Benedictine convent at Hamayles-Marchiennes, near Arras, France. Her sister, St. Eusebia, was abbess there.

^^^   ^^^   ^^^

Saints Adela and Irmina

Adela von Pfalzel    

12/24
Blessed Adela (Adala) (-734), generation 43 or 42 grandmother;
and
Blessed Irmina (Hermine) (-706), generation 43 grandmother &/or aunt.

The exact history of these two saints, either sisters or mother (Irmina) and daughter (Adela), is contested by some. (Some sources have even listed Adela as mother, rather than sister, or daughter, to Irmina.) The earliest sources seem to attest that the two women are granddaughters of King Saint Sigebert III of Austrasia (Eastern Franks). They are believed by most traditionalists to be daughters of Sigebert’s son, King Saint Dagobert II, whose feast day is celebrated 12/23, the day before that of his daughters.

It is well attested that Blessed Adela married a prominent Count and bore children whose descendants continue to this day (My own family is one of thousands who trace a line of descent from her). After her widowhood she retired to serve as abbess at Pfalzel convent.

Saint Adele Oval Religious Medal - - 1/2 X 2/3 Inch Size of Dime, Sterling Silver

Blessed Irmina is also known to have married, and by some sources to have had a daughter Adela, named after the child’s aunt. This younger Adela, it seems almost certain, also became a nun at Pfalzel and succeeded her aunt as abbess. One of these two Adelas was the mother of St Gregory of Utrecht. After her widowhood, Irmina also became a nun and in turn abbess at another convent, in Oeren.

most recent ancestral saint

 

As far as I know, Blessed William Howard is the most recent of my ancestors officially recognized as Christian saints (meaning his lifetime is historically the closest to our own). In his case, as in several others, he is a co-lateral ancestor only, not a direct forebear (ancestral grandparent). My historically closest direct ancestor saint is probably William’s grandfather, Saint Philip Howard.

William is officially a “blessed” or beato–one stage below full canonization as a saint, although I’ve seen his name listed as Saint William Howard. There is certainly a lot of politics involved in his case.  But he may also have been a very sincere and devout person, perhaps even a holy person. And many traditions honor those regarded as martyrs as having been (or equivalent to having been) living saints.

12/29
Blessed William Howard (1616-1680), generation 12 uncle-cousin (his paternal grandparents, St Philip Howard [1557-1585] and Anne Dacre [1557-1630], are among my 14th generation grandparents).

English earl and viscount, Catholic martyr, executed simply for being a prominent Catholic at a time when there were public panics in Protestant-controlled England that Catholics would try to regain politic and religious dominance.

his profile, found online:

“Son of Thomas, earl of Arundel, England. Grandson of Saint Philip Howard. Raised Catholic in England in a time when the faith was being persecuted. Married Mary Stafford in 1637. Viscount of Stafford in England. Baron Stafford in 1640. Exiled in 1642 for political reasons, and lived in the Netherlands. Undertook diplomatic missions in Flanders and Switzerland for Emperor Ferdinand. His family was impoverished when the English Parliament impounded his lands. Arrested in Heidelberg in 1653 and Utrecht in 1656 for apparently political reasons, but he was acquitted of all charges.

“In 1660 his family property was reinstated, the fortunes of his family turned around, and they returned to England. Accused of complicity in the “Popish Plot”, he was sent to the Tower of London on 25 October 1678. Imprisoned for two years before they bothered to try him, he was condemned before the trial started. Though he had no involvement in the “Plot”, he was martyred for being an influential, high-profile Catholic.”

Ninety-five years before his own death, Blessed William’s grandfather, Saint Philip Howard (1557-1585) had been martyred also, having died from mistreatment while imprisoned in the Tower for having converted to Catholicism—then a capital crime under Elizabeth I.

Blessed William was beheaded on December 29, 1680 on Tower Hill, London, England.
He was Venerated (decreed to be “Venerable” – two stages from full canonization) on December 8, 1929 by Pope Pius XI (decree of martyrdom). A few days later, on December 15, 1929, William was was Beatified (decreed to be “Blessed”–one stage below full canonization) by Pope Pius XI.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Popish_Plot

http://catholicsaints.info/saint-philip-howard/

 

^^^    ^^^    ^^^

Big Screen Adventures

Christmas morning: first morning cup of ginger tea—the teabag tab features a printed “fortune” which reads:

“May this day bring you peace, tranquility and harmony.”

^^^   ^^^   ^^^

Image result for han solo

A few nights ago, a sweet friend took me out on a date to the local first opening night showing of the new Star Wars movie. Because I enjoy spending time with my charming friend and find it rather flattering that she wished to take me to such a widely-coveted (and pricey) viewing, I had a really great movie date night.

As for the film itself, I certainly enjoyed aspects of it, but I must confess I wasn’t deeply moved. I’ve always enjoyed the Star Wars series well enough, yet have never been a really big follower. Yet, despite the blackhole-loads of violence portrayed in each installment, including this one, I have always found that they also carried enough fun silliness and genuine idealism to make for a good time. This was no exception. A real good time, just not, for me, a deeply moving film.  But I get why everyone loved seeing it, even just having it available to see. I enjoyed that aspect of it as well, in my somewhat modest way.

There is certainly more I could say about the new episode, but it might get into “spoilers” and we wouldn’t want that! Let me just say again that I’m very honoured to have been invited to such an event as this opening night viewing. My date-hostess for the occasion confesses to being “a fairly-thorough fan-girl nerd.” But she’s a very thoughtful one;—I’d call her a philosophical nerd-fan/scholar. Very cool.

Observing the other folks who turned out, many in costume, and being immersed within such an audience, was a pretty cool experience in itself. I liked how friendly and intimate everyone in the audience seemed to feel toward one another as well as toward the characters and the plot, etc. It was not just like being in a close-knit club, but like being part of a band of comrades. Which, in a way, I guess it was—at least for the time just before, during, and after the showing….

Also, I must say, just seeing Harrison Ford up and moving around was pretty impressive. You know, he shattered his pelvis and once again busted his ankle just recently in that emergency landing he did in his tiny vintage plane, dropping into a park in LA. He’d earlier busted an ankle in a previous crash. He’s also flipped his copter in a crash landing and walked away. To get back into a pilot’s seat after all that, especially for a series of trans-galactic dimension-warping flights, is pretty courageous. Of course for the fictional flights-and-fights he’s being paid gazillions.

When I first went to see the first Star Wars film in its opening run (at a drive-in theatre!) in 1977, I had just returned to the States from the snow-clad Swiss Alps, where I had been immersed in a six-month deep meditation retreat of advanced teacher training with my spiritual guide & teacher, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. We, the retreatants, were all experienced teachers of Maharishi’s Transcendental Meditation (TM) Program, and this advanced retreat was the first course in which he trained certified teachers of his program to also be practitioners and instructors of the newly-restored ancient Yoga procedures known as sidhis or special specific “accomplishments.” These systematic traditional procedures for stabilizing and applying specific features of higher consciousness were first codified by the historic Maharishi Patanjali in the Yoga Sutra, a primary text of the original Vedic teachings of Yoga. This program of learning, practicing, and teaching these ancient and now fully-restored advanced Yoga methods, Maharishi chose to name the TM-Sidhi Program. To have my first pop cultural experience upon re-entering America from such an intensive six-months mountain retreat turn out to be attending the drive-in opening night of the first Star Wars movie was rather interesting…

Back to the present…
So Carrie Fisher, I am reflecting (with the help of wiki), is now 59 (born 1956). So she must have been about 19, 20 or 21 (?) when the original episode was filmed—(in 1976?) and released in ’77.  Mark Hamill is now 64. Born in 1951, he was about 25 or 26 (?) then.
Harrison Ford is now 73. Born in 1942, that means he was about 34 or 35 back in 1976-77.

In “real life,” of course, Harrison is married to Calista. (She’s his third wife; his divorce settlement of $59 million to his second wife was then the highest on record for any settlement–how’s that for salacious gratuitous gossip).

Calista was born in 1964 and is therefore now about 51;—that’s a 22 year diff in her age and that of husband Harrison…. (Knowing things like this last bit is goofily always encouraging for me, seeing as I’m so effing ancient now, myself.  …I don’t care how much difference or closeness in age there may be for myself and my own potential partner, but still, it’s encouraging….)

Since seeing the new Star Wars, I’ve read snippets of a couple of articles about Ford I’d not seen before. From which I learn that, in recent years he & Calista & kids have returned to living pretty much full time in LA again. Until then, Ford had spent most of his time for decades living on a ranch outside of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. That is, ever since earning his first millions. He was paid only $10,000 for his role in the first Star Wars, so he had to wait awhile to buy anything. He used that $10,000 to pay off debts. (Which, he jokes wryly, women should have found impressive.) When he settled out there in Jackson Hole, he was basically the first celebrity to do so. These days, there are many others, such as Sandra Bullock,  ……and, of all people, Dick Cheney!!!—the Sith lord Vader himself!

Apparently Ford has kept his 700 or 800 acre ranch and he & family still spend vacations at the spread, but live in LA again these days.

“He’s always played by his own rules, living on a 700-acre ranch in Wyoming for much of his adult life—as far removed from Hollywood as you can get.

Question: You spent some time living in Wyoming. Were you trying to re-create a simpler existence?

Ford: No, I was just trying to get out of what we referred to as the Silly State—that being California. …Everyone walks around with the idea of an idyllic, natural world that they maybe experienced on a vacation or saw pictures of. Wyoming was mine.”

^^^   ^^^   ^^^

Speaking of movies seen recently: I also went out to view the latest James Bond episode. I think I must have seen most, if not perhaps all, of this series as well, sooner or later. I was never a really big fan of these films either. Nor am I a big Sean Connery fan (and those terrible things he said about being justified in hitting his wife &/or other women made me sick! Of course).
Despite the caravan-loads of violence in each of these films also, I always thought that, like the Star Wars episodes, they also contained enough fun silliness for what they are, though Bond’s idealism, if one can call it that, was less “humor-intending” or -resulting than the casual “enemy-killings” by rogue cowboy gunslinger Han Solo. Bond’s killings are equally murderous, perhaps, and off-handed, yet Solo (and Indiana Jones, for that matter!) seemed less sadistically-titillated by offing “bad guys” (or others in their path) than does Bond. One gets the truly creepy feeling Bond is intended to convey his own sexual arousal in murdering his foes.

However, because of an article I read about the newest Bond thing, I went to check it out. The article suggested that the way the character & plot have been shaped in the latest escapade is (sorta) reflective of and supportive of Edward Snowden & his whistle-blowing real-life heroism. And it’s sorta true, I guess. (Again, I don’t wish to give any spoilers.)

But I still don’t much care for the Bond stuff, though in this case, the “Snowden factor” (what there is of it here), is certainly a huge improvement! Now I’d like to see where a creative vision would take the Bond character and plots from there. That’s where the real adventures could begin.

http://http://www.truthdig.com/arts_culture/item/in_spectre_james_bond_becomes_edward_snowden_video_20151108#below

Daniel Craig’s screen presence has never moved me, but I find the fact that “in real life” Craig is married to the quite compelling Rachel Weisz, really says something. Not sure what or why, exactly. But Weisz always strikes me as having something significantly positive about her. Seems like some deep passion to make a difference for good in the world.

I’m not saying the others (Connery? Craig? and certainly Ford, don’t also possess such passion in real life—Ford, as is well-known, is a deeply-engaged activist on several crucial fronts, including working toward greater justice and peace for Tibet and the Dalai Lama, and for the planet. He also directly saves people’s lives in his wilderness search-and-rescue volunteer pilot activities! In this regard he’s a  real-life hero of a non-gun-slinging sort!)

I just wish the Bond character could have been even more like Han Solo (and/or Ed Snowden!) than he was in this latest film. I wish that Han Solo and James Bond throughout could have been been way more like Errol Flynn’s Robin Hood…combined with the real Ed Snowden, …combined with the real Julian Assange, and others of that ilk. Or even, in the case of Bond, more, much more, like the character Johnny Worricker played by Bill Nighy in Page Eight, the first of the Worricker series. In which the female lead was played (sadly only in the first film) by Rachel Weisz! You know, something like that….

I’d also really like to see some really good filmic versions of the real-life heroism also of folks like yes, Ed Snowden and Julian Assange, but also Daniel Ellsberg, Chelsea Manning, Jesselyn Radack and Tom Drake, Jen Robinson and Sarah Harrison, Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald, Amy Goodman and Allan Nairn, Jeremy Scahill and Matt Taibbi, John Pilger, and others. Plenty of others, although still far too precious few, in the face of things. Overwhelming things. Tremendous courage and willingness to self-sacrifice if needed to help others. To save us all from great horrific evil. Mostly perpetrated upon us and our planet by our own evil and/or morally indifferent government leaders acting at the bankrolled bidding of horrifically genocidal corporate terrorists. Oh well.

One non-Bond-related Sean Connery film from long ago that I did particularly like was the (little known?) 1992 flick, Medicine Man. Connery plays a modern-day fiercely dedicated, perhaps half-crazed rogue doctor and enthno-botanist, living-deep among a band of surviving Native peoples of the Amazon rainforest. He has “discovered” their traditional use of a natural plant-based radical cure for cancer and has to fight like hell to try to save the Indigenous people, the forest, and the rare medicine plant, before all are destroyed by the on-rushing slash-&-burn of global corporate greed-&-genocide that has now reached his jungle research-hospital’s campsite.

Medicine Man was panned by critics, though it was supported by enough paying theatre-viewers at its release to recoup its production costs. Unfortunately, it used a film-script that seems to have been stolen and sold to the producers by some low-level, lowlife Hollywood suits. The script seems very closely based on an autobiographical manuscript submitted to studio readers by the real-life medical scientist whose life story was then slightly fictionalized and portrayed through the character played by Connery. Passed off as original fiction creation, with no credit to the seeming actual autobiographical author. The doctor sued the film-makers. I don’t know if he got awarded anything out of the suit or not.

http://articles.latimes.com/1992-08-18/business/fi-5787_1_medicine-man

Otherwise, though, I liked the film. I thought it was such a wonderful, though of course horrifying, apt story. But I only saw it once, when it was briefly in theatres, and it may or may not have been weak in certain movie-making terms. But production-values aren’t the only things that make movies good or bad.

Saving our own planet and ourselves in our own real time from evil murderous genocide by real life corporate-nazis and their minions has more to do with the basis for good movie-making than most of the things folks seem to care about with regard to ga-zillion dollar cash cows like the Star Wars and Bond “franchises.” I couldn’t care less about the production and nerd obsession minutia of vehicles and costumes and hairstyles and weapons depicted in movie series like Bond and Star Wars. I have always found it utterly bizarre. Really? That’s what you obsess over?–what about the values being portrayed and promoted??!!

Our own world is being attacked by home-grown evil empires far more powerful and already-hugely victorious and threatening than anything cartoonified in these ridiculously silly movies!—don’t you see that’s what the films’ authors are trying to get us to think about and talk about and do something about???!!!

Rachel Weisz had plans to make a docu-drama movie about Julia Butterfly Hill and her tree-sitting activism to save the redwoods and the planet. It was to feature Weisz herself in the lead role. Now that I would like to have seen come to fruition! Sadly, much time has passed, and it seems to have been swallowed up or tossed aside by whatever factors. I have a bit of an artist-celebrity crush on Rachel Weisz; I’m deeply in love with Julia Hill.

^^^  ^^^  ^^^

Saint Dagobert

[photo is of a bas-relief depiction of the martydom of King Saint Dagobert II]

12/23
Saint Dagobert II (c650-699), generation 44 grandfather.
King Saint Dagobert II the martyr, was the son of King Saint Sigebert III of Austrasia (East Franks, France), who also died a martyr.
As a young prince, Saint Dagobert was spirited out of the country for safety to Ireland where he was placed under the care of monastic saints. Only as an adult was he able to ascend the throne. His first wife was an Anglo-Saxon princess named Mechtilde (Matilda) and according to the earliest sources they had two daughters who were also canonized, Saint Irmina and Saint Adela. After their husbands’ deaths the two sisters became nuns and abbessses. Saint Irmina’s daughter was also named Adela after her aunt and succeeded her as abbess. Some later sources claimed that Dagobert’s fatherhood of the two sister saints was a political fabrication, but current scholarship affirms that they were descendants of Saint Sigebert.

Saint Dagobert was assassinated in the dynastic rivalries that were so prevalent during his time, and canonized as a saint.

A skull, said to be of Saint Dagobert, bearing a fatal lance wound, is venerated as a holy relic to this day.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dagobert_II

 

St Ernan

12/22
Saint Ernan Mac Eogan or Mhic Eòghainn (-c640), generation 46 uncle.
Gaelic Irish missionary abbot to Gaelic Scotland.

Saint Ernan, son of Eogan, was a nephew and follower of St Columba (Colm Cille, 521-597), the famous Irish missionary abbot largely responsible for spreading Christianity among the Gaels and Picts of Scotland. The main area of activity for both Ernan and Columba was the Gaelic Celtic kingdom of Dál Riata which included parts of northeastern Ireland and parts of western Scotland and the Hebrides or Western Isles along the west coast of Scotland.

Ernan is named after his relative St Ernan of Hinba, an uncle of Columba. At least two other close relatives were also also saints named Ernan, all descendants of King Niall of the Nine Hostages whose pirate warriors probably kidnapped St Patrick and at least one of his sister several as children and sold them into slavery.

St Ernan’s home abbey was in Ireland at Druim-Tomma in the district of Drumhome, County Donegal. He is venerated as the patron saint: of the parish of Drumhome, where a school has been dedicated to him; of Killernan in County Clare; of Kilviceuen (Cill Mhic Eòghainn “church of the son of Eogan”) on Mull, and of Kilearnadale on Jura (Mull and Jura are among the Inner Hebrides islands of Scotland).

His feast day is listed as January 1 in the Martyrology of Tallaght (c 790-830), and in the early Scottish Kalendars, it is commemorated on December 21 and 22.

The photo is of the church built by St Ernan on the Isle of Mull

Grannie St Ælfgifu (Elgiva)

One of my ancestral grandmothers from 36 generations ago.

12/21  feast day December 12
Saint Ælfgifu (Elgiva) of Shaftesbury (- 944), generation 36 grandmother.
English Queen and abbess.
Queen Saint Ælfgifu was the first wife of King Edmund I the Just, the Magnificent (921-946), by whom she bore two future kings, Eadwig (Edwy the All-Fair c941–959) and Saint Edgar the Peaceful (943-975). Like her mother Wynflæld, she had a close and special connection with the royal convent of Shaftesbury, Dorset, founded by her husband’s grandfather King Saint Alfred the Great, where she retired as abbess, died and was buried, and soon revered as a saint.
Among her grandchildren are King Æthelred the Unrede, King Saint Edward the Martyr, and Saint Edith (Eadgyth) of Wilton (961-984).
Her feast day is also celebrated on May 18.