Monday, November 23, 2015

None of us knows how long this will be.

Psalm 74

A maskil of Asaph.

1 O God, why have you rejected us forever?

Why does your anger smolder against the sheep of your pasture?

2 Remember the nation you purchased long ago,

the people of your inheritance, whom you redeemed—

Mount Zion, where you dwelt.

3 Turn your steps toward these everlasting ruins,

all this destruction the enemy has brought on the sanctuary.

4 Your foes roared in the place where you met with us;

they set up their standards as signs.

5 They behaved like men wielding axes

to cut through a thicket of trees.

6 They smashed all the carved paneling

with their axes and hatchets.

7 They burned your sanctuary to the ground;

they defiled the dwelling place of your Name.

8 They said in their hearts, “We will crush them completely!”

They burned every place where God was worshiped in the land.


9 We are given no signs from God;

no prophets are left,

and none of us knows how long this will be.

10 How long will the enemy mock you, God?

Will the foe revile your name forever?

11 Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand?

Take it from the folds of your garment and destroy them!

12 But God is my King from long ago;

he brings salvation on the earth.

13 It was you who split open the sea by your power;

you broke the heads of the monster in the waters.

14 It was you who crushed the heads of Leviathan

and gave it as food to the creatures of the desert.

15 It was you who opened up springs and streams;

you dried up the ever-flowing rivers.

16 The day is yours, and yours also the night;

you established the sun and moon.

17 It was you who set all the boundaries of the earth;

you made both summer and winter.

18 Remember how the enemy has mocked you, Lord,

how foolish people have reviled your name.

19 Do not hand over the life of your dove to wild beasts;

do not forget the lives of your afflicted people forever.


20 Have regard for your covenant,

because haunts of violence fill the dark places of the land.

21 Do not let the oppressed retreat in disgrace;

may the poor and needy praise your name.

22 Rise up, O God, and defend your cause;

remember how fools mock you all day long.

23 Do not ignore the clamor of your adversaries,

the uproar of your enemies, which rises continually.

  Visit Margaret's Amazon Author Page!

try this one

All I can do is try, mates - right? Since I am still trying to figure out why my internet connections are so unpredictably dicey, about all I can do is experiment.

Things do post, sometimes, but you can't go back and repeat the experience. It simply stops. So if you manage to post photos on Facebook, which you occasionally can, if you close FB and open it again, you won't be able to post photos. At all. Not until a certain amount of time goes by. It's as if FB gets tired or something - you wear it out, wear out its ability to display your photos. But there is no indication as to HOW LONG that resting period must be.

If you can GET on Blogspot, which is a trial in itself (a brown square is just as likely), you may be able to make a small post, with some pictures in it, but you may not go back and edit. If you try to, you will lose the whole thing because it will not save. We don't know why.

If you want to upload a wacky delightful Christmas crafts video with Caitlin and Ryan, which is obviously date-sensitive and needs to go up right away, it won't. YouTube is not taking any new videos, or at least none of mine.

None of us knows how long it will be.

Kevin Brownlow: it's nice to get an answer sometimes

-----Original Message-----
From: Kevin Brownlow
Sent: Monday, November 23, 2015 1:41 PM
To: Margaret Gunning

At long last I have located that film you enquired about. LE MOULIN
MAUDIT was made in 1909 by Alfred Machin. The English title was THE
MILL, it was made by Pathe and the print emanated from the Cinematheque
Francaise, not the EYE Institute, Amsterdam, as I thought, It was
restored by the CNC. Here is the description in the Bologna catalogue
for 2009; 'Adultery, madness, murder, suicide and a sinister windmill
which confers epic dimensions on this six-minute film. The elderly
husband crucifies his young rival on the mill's sails and their sombre
shadow in the river beats time as the deadly finale is played out. Is
this the film that Julien Green (1900-1998) saw as a child and which
gave him nightmares? The elements and the atmosphere are the same: a
river, an "avenging mill" and a nightmarish escalation of horror.' (I
think Mariann Lewinsky wrote that).

You won't be surprised to learn that the director, Alfred Machin, was
primarilly  famous for making films for children! He was also a
front-line cameraman in WW1. Julien Green was an American  who wrote in
French, and who became the first non-French writer to be elected to the
Academie Francaise.

Very best

Thank you for that - it's pretty gruesome stuff. So, would this be shown as
a double feature with a comedy, perhaps a Chaplin film?  I am not sure who
the target audience was for this sort of dark expressionist stuff. The first
time I watched it, I thought it must be some kind of faux silent film or
even a parody (the heroine tied to the railroad tracks?). It's just so
sadistic, actually shocking. A morality tale, too - everyone gets punished,
even the punisher. (Those pants, though - I guess he just had to go.) My
favorite moment is when the husband finds the wooden shoes at the bottom of
the ladder. The two of them aren't actually shown going up it  - I guess
that would just be too immoral. But the idea of him scurrying up there in
bare feet - . Much more is left to the imagination here. I note too the
woman is wearing an actual corset, not a costume one. I think women were
still wearing them then.

These things are time machines, for sure.


I made a gif of this - I'll try to send it - the guy going around and around
strapped to the windmill.

POST-BLOG COMMENTS. Along with my gifs of Le Moulin Maudit (which I will post in its entirety when I get around to it, because I have a lot more I want to say about it - it's a brilliant little devilish piece of early filmmaking/storytelling), I wanted to include my lovely email exchange with Kevin Brownlow, which happened today. In case you don't know, he's the world's foremost expert on silent film and an Oscar winner for lifetime achievement in silent film restoration. And! Of all the people I tried to contact and get interested in The Glass Character, he was really the only one that took any interest or bothered to respond. I had initial interest from Rich Correll, who used to be considered Harold's "second son" and who actually phoned me from Los Angeles a couple of years ago. But there was no followup. The trail went cold when he stopped answering my emails and calls for no reason I could ascertain. Likewise with Annette Lloyd - I somehow turned her off, I think, maybe by making too familiar with her biographical subject.

Of all the people I contacted, or tried to, Kevin Brownlow was the least likely to respond because of his tremendous status and obvious busy-ness as a world figure in cinema. He's also well into his seventies and has devoted decades to the cause. As a matter of fact, he began when silent films were still being melted down and made into bootheels and such, tossed aside as dross that no one would be interested in watching. He met Harold Lloyd when he was a young  film student and immediately loved him, seeing him as charming, unpretentious and not at all vain or self-obsessed.

The first time I sent an email to a major film figure and actually got a RESPONSE, I was amazed. Kevin Brownlow, for whom words like "distinguished" seem invented, with that cut-glass English accent, turned out to be jolly good fun, accessible, and friendly. He usually answered my questions promptly and with pleasure. Though I knew he wouldn't have time to read it, he agreed to write a blurb for my book that leant the back cover more than a touch of class.

If you're interested in silent film, then he is interested in talking to you. I didn't find this kind of courtesy and respect anywhere else, and I don't think I ever will.

This doesn't bring me any closer to my movie version of The Glass Character. It doesn't make the book A Success in the mysterious way it is supposed to be. But it was and is a wondrous thing to connect with someone like this. And to have him do some homework on this movie I asked about, and to GET BACK TO ME about it, is nothing short of a bloody miracle in an age when the unanswered email and the ignored request seems like the norm.

POST-BLOG-POST REVELATION! Today, a couple of weeks later, I actually got something in the mail - but it wasn't just anything. It was postmarked from Britain, neatly addressed by hand (a rarity in itself) with no return address.

I opened it, and saw a greeting card:

A Christmas card from Kevin Brownlow, signing himself as Kevin, yes, as if we're friends. . . or at least, as if he's a wonderful and warm person who goes to the trouble to handwrite a card and send it all the way over the ocean to me.

He has done this sort of thing before, when he sent me a wonderful antique postcard of Rudolph Valentine which sits on my desk in a lucite frame.

Somebody has to come through for me, I guess. And the fact that it's the one who knows the most about this subject is not lost on me. Some days, rare days, almost nonexistent days, this all seems worthwhile.

POST TO THE POST-POST! The card contained an enclosure: a photocopy of a page from a book. It's a little hard to read what's on it, so I'll transcribe:

"Lashed to a windmill by a Nebraska mob that dragged him from court, a murderer faces an exotic death. The sherriff halted the rite - depicted in the Police News in 1884 - and the man got a life term instead."

Kevin's comment was, "This isn't very Christmassy but it certainly is a coincidence! Just came across it in Time/Life's THE OLD WEST."

Nebraska, eh? That's where Harold was born and raised. But this poor man, like St. Peter, is being crucified upside-down.

Car riding horse ! yes that's what it says

All is buggered. There is some mysterious problem in my computer that is causing intermittent panic: for some unknown reason, last week, things started to fuck up. I couldn't get on sites, when normally my computer functions at light speed. When I finally did get on them, things didn't work, particularly posting photos (which is what I live for!). Text would sort of post, sometimes. This wasn't just on the blog but on Facebook. Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

Other things have quirked and eluded me. Some posts have refused to save, or refused to show up at all. (This just happened here, by the way. Everything looked perfect, I had all the photos in place, then it froze and refused to save or post, so this is about the tenth time I've had to find some other way to do this.) I have tried EVERYTHING, and my son the computer genius spent two long sessions with it and tried every purgative, every exorcistic thing that existed in his repertoire (and he does this for a living and has never been stumped before). My husband screwed around with the router, though I don't even know what that IS, and for a brief, blissful while all the problems went away, before they all came back. I would put up with it and try to find workarounds, except - sometimes it just stops. Google Chrome won't even go ON this page and gives me a gigantic brown square, just the background, which is totally absurd. I'd rather have a white page! This is not good, as there is a subtle feeling of erosion, as if the (relatively-new) computer, recently switched to Windows 10, is about to pack it in for good.

The Windows 10, by the way, was a fix, not a cause. This happened spontaneously. Installing Firefox (which now works marginally better than Chrome, but only to get me ON the blog) didn't help. Is it the new photo program that came with Windows 10? Actually, it has been working well, and I like everything but the editing program which I can do in Windows Live. Or at least I've done it successfully up to now, though "up to now" doesn't mean much any more. Is my computer confused? Why? Why does it suddenly work "almost" normally, then go wildly catawampus again (and that IS the technical term)?

The blog is the only way I can express myself as a writer now, sad as that may seem. The only rule is that I do whatever the hell I want, whenever the hell I want. It's a combination of enjoyable sharing of quirky things, and (sometimes) ranty self-expression. It has no central theme, but similar subjects come up regularly, because these are the things I care about.

So far I can post text without any problem, but who knows what is next. I may have to write with a sharp stick and a little pile of dog poo. This video you see (at the bottom, if it's still there) - I've seen it before, it's fun - would not MOVE so I could write some text under it. It's like sorcerer has gotten his wonky fingers in here and flicked the workings of it this way and that. The WORST is when it all works beautifully again, because the next time I try to use it, one subtle thing will be buggered up - or un-subtle thing - then another, then another, until I am back to the dreaded shit-brown square.

This reminds me of those demonic medical symptoms you get, and believe me I've had them, where when you finally get in to see a doctor, the symptoms are completely gone. Then you go home, a month goes by when you feel a lot better and you're sure you're all right, and then you begin to feel just a little scribbly niggle of pain in the deepest pit of your abdomen. And within a month you're screwed, and on ANOTHER waiting list. Then, just as you walk into the doctor's office, the symptoms all go away.

I've been through that in the past few years, and I am not convinced I am in the clear yet. But this is a mere computer, is it not? Since the worst symptom right now (?) seems to be very erratic posting of photos, MAYBE there's something wrong with - but no, it couldn't be, because the problems started well in advance of installing Windows 10.

I realize this is boring, but I am anxious beyond what I can say. No one seems to understand why it's so significant to me. I failed pretty abysmally at everything else - I can't sell books worth two hoots, though I do think I write good ones. (It's not that, so please don't say something like, "Ohhhh, don't worry, Margaret, your writing REALLY isn't so bad!") Most of what I wrote never saw the light of day. Honest writers, all two of them, admit they have unpublished manuscripts lurking around in their files. I published something like three out of seven. I remember a time when publishing even ONE was a golden dream, something I thought I'd never attain. But I didn't know what it would be like, the loneliness and isolation, the disappointment, and the need to keep it to myself because failure just embarrasses everyone. I've gotten to the point that I just can't do it any more.

This has become a screed. My problems probably won't happen in this post, for the computer sticks its tongue out at me regularly, dangles a hope of wholeness and function. (Oops. After dangling hope by posting one or two images, it now has shut down again. Last time this happened, all my changes were lost and I was back to square one.) Nobody realizes why this bothers me so much, and I am totally convinced other people don't even have it. Or if they do, they laugh it off, it has nothing to do with their identity. IDENTITY? Isn't that just a given? Why do you need to work so hard to maintain it, to support it? What the hell is the matter with you, anyway?

Anyway, I don't know why this is even going up here at all except that I have HAD IT, had it with all the crap that is going on. I know a blog isn't a personal journal, but I also know it's not whatever I have been doing all day for four solid years, with literally thousands of posts. Only one gained a vast readership (I See Dead People: Victorian Post-Mortem Photography) from being on Pinterest: last time I checked, it was at 106,192 views, and the time before that, a few months ago, about 100,000. Considering my average is around 25, that's not too shabby.

I will make an attempt to post some images here. The sorcerer who has been screwing with my head may well allow them this time, who knows. Or not. Like life's problems - no, like MY problems, I am sure everyone else is consistent - it's intermittent and maddening.

Which is why this funny horse video is posted at the bottom.

(P. S. At the moment, I can't even save this, let alone post it. I had to go back and restore all my changes from memory. WHY is this happening? More to the point, how the hell do I get OUT of here??)