Sitemeter Sez: Visitors from Silver Spring, Maryland; Greenfield Park, New York; Osaka, Japan; Winter Park, Florida; Lomita, California and New York City, New York.
Check out: Theater X-Net
Visit: Michael's Montana Web Archive
Theater, Art, Flash Gordon, Funky Music and MORE!
MORE UPDATES! Outre Space Cinema -- Featuring: 1930's Rocketry, Spitfires of the Spaceways and especially Cellulose to Celluloid, Even more Flash Gordon comparisons from the Saturday Matinees and Sunday Comics.
Many thanks to Jim Keefe (Visit his Website) -- the LAST Flash Gordon illustrator of the 20th Century, and Flash's FIRST illustrator of the 21st, for including my efforts on his Flash Gordon Resources Page -- along with actual creators like Alex Raymond, Al Williamson, and others!
Charity Alert: Play the FreeRice Game -- improve your vocabulary, and donate food to the United Nations. Check into Terra Sigilata blog -- donate $$$ to cancer patients just by clicking onto the site. Keep that Resolution to click on The Hunger Site every day. BTW -- AIDtoCHILDREN.com is a bit simpler than FreeRice Game.
In The Community: Dan Fagre's show at the Hockaday Museum of Art about the vanishing glaciers of Glacier National Park is a true labor of love by himself and other scientists from the USGS. Here's another website comparing glacier photos from the early 20th Century and now. Things are changing rapidly -- the Auction of Miniatures is going up NOW -- public party next Friday!
FVCC's Honors Symposium was China’s Economy — The Good, the Bad and the Ugly by Dr. Terry Weidner of the University of Montana. Deng and his immediate successors may have dismantled Mao's neurotically centralized Communist state, but it bears saying that, despite China's importance in the modern world, it does NOT have the largest economy. As individuals and as a country, there have been many mistakes made in the past, and there will likely be more in the future.
March 26 — “Communist China — The Cultural Revolution” presented by Major Kwok Chiu, United States Military Academy at West Point;
April 2 — “China Today” presented by Eric Pei, FVCC Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence; Visiting Professor, Liaoning University, Shenyang, China.
Media Watch: Videotaped ALL DAY -- missed the Opera this week and last week because I had to work. Renée Fleming sang last Saturday, so it was a drag missing that, but the horse doctors were very interesting. (Seriously!)
On The Internet: I signed up to contribute an essay about women and technology for Ada Lovelace Day on March 24. My idea is to wax rhapsodically about Augusta Ada Byron (Countess of Lovelace), her likely half-sister Elizabeth Medora Leigh -- daughter of her father's half-sister Augusta Leigh, her own half-sister Clara Allegra Byron, daughter of Claire Clairmont, step-sister in turn of Mary Shelley.
Ada grew up a prisoner of the mores, morals, and double standards of the English Court. Her absent father Lord George Byron was internationally infamous for flouting every taboo of his class. The constant scandal was probably very hard on her mother Anne Isabella (Annabella) Milbanke, whose own cousin Caroline Lamb suffered repeated heartbreak at Byron's hands ("mad, bad, and dangerous to know") before the philandering rogue formally married Annabella.
Ada and her mother accepted Medora as a sister, but Clara Allegra died in Italy during an epidemic when she was only five years old. Her step-aunt Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley had a terrible life, losing three of her four children, plus her beloved husband while they were young and exiled abroad -- but she accomplished much before her death at the age of 53. Mary was Lord Byron's trusted secretary and editor who made sure the mad peer's writings got to their publishers. She also spent a lifetime gathering the works of Percy Bysshe Shelley. We enjoy the works of two of Romanticism's greatest poets because of her. Besides all that, she helped create a new literary genre by writing two of Science Fiction's first major novels -- The Last Man and Frankenstein.
Ada was certainly familiar with Frankenstein -- the stage play was a huge success throughout the world, and made the novel a perenniel best-seller. This gothic tale of science gone wrong resonated in the early Industrial Revolution, and still does today.
Ada's lingering fame rests on her association with the brilliant scientist Charles Babbage -- she championed his causes after his old patron the Duke of Wellington left the scene. She translated a treatise from Italian which explained practical applications of Babbage's proposed mechanical computation machine, and added her own section about Bernoulli numbers, thus winning the post hoc title of first English computer programmer.
The fear of science and technology at the heart of Frankenstein might have played a part in frustrating Babbage's requests for governmental assistance. This fear may also explain some of the legends in Ada's own life, when an unhappy marriage, and an unwise affair, led to rumors of gambling conducted by mathematical witchcraft on her part. The reality was much more tawdry and sad -- she died of uterine cancer.
Mary Shelley's last surviving son lived through adulthood, but died childless, with the reputation of a man who distinctivly lacked imagination -- perhaps caused by his nurturing at the mercy of a social class who only grudgingly accepted him, and whose legacies included the Crimean War and Irish Famine.
Everlasting fame awaits the scholar who can prove a link between the Genevan scientist Victor Frankenstein of Mary Wollstonecroft Shelley's gothic novel and the German alchemist Konrad Dippel (1673 - 1734), who was also known as Der Frankensteiner, and would sometime add 'Frankensteinensis' to his signature because of his birth at Castle Frankenstein near Darmstadt, Germany. He had a career in Berlin which seemed to have made him some very persistant enemies, and first manufactured Prussian Blue dye.
I believe that Percy Shelley might have known about Der Frankensteiner due to his own enthusiasm for chemical experiments, and that this name might have been tossed about salons of like-minded persons, along with asociated dark legends. The was an actual Frankenstein Curse -- the real family's firstborn sons died early during a couple of unlucky generations, creating inheritance problems -- but they produced no notorious alchemists, and left the castle over a century before Der Frankensteiner lived there.
Mary maybe even heard the name at her father William Godwin's house. Dippel wrote controversial religious texts under the name of Christianus Democritus. Alchemists like Parcelcius had popular followings. Hell, Cagliostro's strange career was only a recent memory -- but maybe not. These speculations are my own, and completely unfounded.
So, the family trees of Frankenstein, Byron, Shelley, Babbage, and Godwin combine together in hedgerows of illicit sex, Feminism, Free Thinking, Romantic Poetry, Science, and Gothic Fiction all producing -- real live children, unmade machines, reamimated monsters, and more, in a familial tangle worthy of the Classical Greek Titans.
I shall chart that geneaology on March 24, when I re-draft this essay.
The late actor Natasha Richardson as Mary Shelley in Ken Russell's fantasy film "Gothic" (1986)
She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellow'd to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impair'd the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o'er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.
And on that cheek, and o'er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!
George Gordon Byron, Lord Byron (1788–1824)