If you liked it, what else could you want?

October 24th, 2008

In response to the other blogs and people who detest this movie’s historical inaccuracy, I don’t care terribly much about it. For one, I don’t even think it’s that great of a film, even for all its fabrications. The film does the same job other Westerns do of perpetuating the myth of the old west as, well, we already discussed it to be. It had a lot of stereotypes (don’t all westerns/most movies of the era?) and a good, believable setting. The only difference is that it implied that this was truth. If people like the popular image of the Old West, who among them really cares (excepting we historians) to find out it if this likeable legendary man is fact or fiction, and risk spoiling their image of him? I mean, really, how many of us cared that much about Wyatt Earp and tried to analyze the movies before this week? This character so marginalized in history that few people know the realities of his life?

After all, as Dr. M. told us, when John Ford was confronted about the film’s historical inaccuracies, he asked something akin to, “Well, did you like it?” [man said it was his favorite] What else could you want?”

The difference between this film and Pocahontas is that this does not mislead people of all ages, all around the country, about some very significant events in our nation’s history and the relations that had such a strong influence on the actions of the earliest settlers. But that’s a whole other story, 8 weeks old. I won’t dwell on it.

I was asked to spell out the sounds (accompanied by gestures) that I used to help articulate a point I made in class discussion…. Clementine’s role was just to be someone to make Doc be like “eehhh,” and for Chihuahua to be all “rrrrgh!” about….

Also, I have a question. So, there’s a town in the middle of the desert. Dr. M. talked about how people were dirty and didn’t bathe often, and that makes a lot of sense especially in the desert, without much water for bathing. But there’s enough water for a town, nonetheless (although perhaps not as much as the alcohol there). Were there a lot of wells? An underground reservoir that a silver strike chanced to be near? And the very night the Earps arrive in town chances to be one with a rainstorm.

Similarly, did anyone notice how there were always clouds in the sky? Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t there very few clouds in the desert? The clouds depicted were obviously immobile, by the way. What’s wrong with having no clouds? Was that too much to ask, or were the filmmakers covering something up?

Whitney

Glory, Glory, Hallelujah

October 7th, 2008

I agree that Glory misses the big picture. The 54th Massachusetts Regiment is important for the public to know about, not only that the Union employed and armed black soldiers, but for its symbolism as well. The film does well for the most part in its historical accuracy regarding what the 54th was like, what it did, and what challenges it faced. However, in focusing on the characters and the regiment before and during the attack on Ft. Wagner, it only states the significance of the regiment at the very end. It does nothing to indicate that the use of black soldiers by the Union was part of a shift toward emancipation. As a primary source, it represents the desire for drama even in history. As Dr. M said in class, a story of the 54th MA didn’t need fiction to be dramatic because the story of the 54th was dramatic enough, but the symbolic part isn’t as entertaining (not to mention films like to avoid its subject). The part we see is the dramatic part. And, of course, as a US history movie it has to have its stereotypical minority characters; here they just happen to be the film’s focus. It also demonstrates who some of the popular actors were of the time, for every film must have its big celebrities. Overall, an entertaining movie, fascinating for someone who is interested in history, and appealing for the more general public, it is war and glory with people defying standards and following what their heart tells them to do, forming bonds with each other and sacrificing their lives for a glorious cause.

KKK subtlety

October 5th, 2008

In response to Elle’s disappointment in her classmates:

As soon as you said that you didn’t get the KKK reference, I knew I was not alone with Jackie’s sister and wanted to make it known that I hadn’t picked up on it either. As soon as I had the chance to speak after you were done, I spoke up and said so.

I think the way some people were talking about the KKK subtle references made us all feel like it was something we really should have noticed. Props to you for speaking up!

To me as well it seemed like a southern white supremacy deal, and what was to say the men didn’t really have political meetings? I also got the impression while watching it that most of the carpetbaggers in the community were white, and therefore was not seeing it as a strike back against the blacks.

Rhett Butler is a Tough Lover

September 30th, 2008

I found a youtube video called “Rhett Butler is a Tough Lover” and it’s great so I had to share.  : )  It’s a short mashup set to Etta James’s “Tough Lover.”

Historic Flag and Tarleton

September 23rd, 2008

I noticed that at one point, a patriotically painted drum in the Continental Army had a field of blue with 12 stars in a circle and 1 star in the center, so I looked up a flag timeline to see if or when a flag like that would have been used, since there were so many during the war. I went to http://www.ushistory.org/betsy/flagpics.html which was quite informative. That type of flag was first used in 1777 by the 3rd MD Regiment, and was used in the Battle of the Cowpens January 1781. I didn’t see this flag anywhere in the movie but on a drum, or any indication of individual regiments, but this seems another attempt at a historically accurate detail without confusing the public.

For an account of the Battle of Cowpens, see http://www.revolutionarywararchives.org/cowpens.html

The actual battle account begins about halfway down the page, and at the end is “Tarleton, surprisingly enough, was not blamed by Cornwallis for the loss at Cowpens. He was captured with Cornwallis at Yorktown some nine months later. Upon returning to England, he was viewed as a gallant soldier and retired from the British Army as a full General.”

As Dr McClurken said, Tarleton survived, went back to England, and lived well. He obviously did not turn into the sort of “I’ll have a bad reputation because of my atrocities so I can’t go back” person he expressed concern about to Cornwallis in the film, asking for land in Ohio.

Gold in Virginia

September 4th, 2008

I noticed that nobody mentioned gold at all, on the wiki or in class, aside from the 3 G’s.  Well, it’s true that the colonists didn’t find any gold, but that’s not because Virginia doesn’t have any.  What a lot of people don’t know, even those who have lived in VA a long time, is that VA has a significant history of gold mining.  (yes, I’m going into this, because I gave tours of an old gold mine site and gold panning workshops all summer long).

Running from the DC/MD area about 200 miles southwest into central Virginia is what’s known as the Gold-Pyrite belt, rich in not only those but other minerals such as iron, lead, zinc, and copper.  So the colonists weren’t terribly far off.  However, it would take nearly 200 years-1806- before Virginians would discover any of the numerous gold deposits that existed.  There grew to be about 170 gold mines in VA, with the most productive mines in Spotsylvania, Orange, and Fauquier counties.  VA was the country’s #3 gold-producing state from 1830-1850, peaking in the 1840s, before the CA gold rush that meant lots of experienced prospectors and miners left VA.  With disruptions during the Civil War and World War I, gold mining continued, albeit at a much lower production rate than before, until WWII, when nationwide gold mines were closed to redirect production efforts elsewhere to more important industry.  The most

And that’s just part of it.

It surprised me that John Smith didn’t say much about gold in his account.  Well, at least he didn’t lie and say they found some when they didn’t.  Plenty of Spaniards before them died searching the current US SW, and beyond, for the fabled seven cities of gold, and the colonists, as we know, were also led to believe that they would be able to find gold easily once they were in the New World.  They actually ended up collecting pyrite for a good while before they realized it wasn’t gold.

And not just gold, too.  Governor Ratcliffe gives the impression that gold is all he cared about (then again, Disney HAS to have an egotistical, GREEDY antagonist).  What about looking for any resource they could send back to England?  Exploitation, exploitation.  That seems to be Disney’s tamed version, like all they wanted was gold, which they didn’t find, and trees to build Jamestown with.  On that matter, picking up off of the beautiful forest-turned-wasteland idea, the gold-digging song is the only time in the movie when we see any effects of the colonists upon the landscape (other than Jamestown).

-Whitney

returning books to FVC

April 24th, 2008

Funny story:

I believe I mentioned in a past post how much Frank O’Reilly helped me.  He loaned me a book of his own, as well as two from the library of the Fredericksburg Battlefield Visitor Center (FVC), which is where I was volunteering that day, March 15.  He said ‘keep it as long as you need it,” and perhaps he was actually just referring to his own book, and not the other two, or perhaps he had no idea how long I would need it.  The two books were Fredericksburg Civil War Sites, volumes one and two.

I ended up returning his book on the Union Cavalry to Frank’s wife, who works in GW, because he said I could, after two or three weeks.  When I said that Frank had loaned me a book, she was surprised, and said that he hardly ever loans her his books!  Therefore I felt special.

Last week I made a few more revisions to a few markers, and used one of the FVC’s books for the last time on Wednesday night, I think,  although there was a space of time I had not needed them, because I had already finished posts for my markers.  (I kept most of my books until the end, specifically because I might need them for revision.)  Friday afternoon I decided I would return the two books to Frank’s wife on Monday, but Saturday was such a lovely day I decided to take them back to FVC in person.  It was a lovely walk, and when I got there, a bunch of people were around the counter, with two employees and some other guy who might have been a volunteer.  Therefore I waited a minute until they dispersed, took the books out of my bag, and walked up to the counter.  The reception I got was awesome!  The rangers (who I’d worked with multiple times) were all astonished to see these books.  I was told they’d been looking for them for three weeks!  They had needed them for reference to help visitors, and they were missing.  One had sent emails out to everybody asking if they knew where these books were, and even Frank had not told her that he loaned me the books.  I guess he forgot, but before he had known I had them.  They had even needed the books just earlier that day, too.

I thought all this was great.  Unfortunate, yes, but here I had these books for five weeks because Frank was generous enough to loan them to me for my research on the Battle of Fredericksburg, for two weeks their absence was unnoticed, and then all this crazy stuff happened and I had no idea it was going on!  One day three weeks later, I walk in and hand them the books, they are perfectly okay, and at no point were they lost or even misplaced.

I chatted a bit with them about our project and that Mac was nice enough to add our website to two of the park’s web pages, and when I would volunteer next.

I got a kick out of it all, and  left in a very good mood.  Thus, I want to share the story.  🙂

nearly done… :D

April 17th, 2008

 I’m excited we finally got all the tiny details of our citing, photo credits, formatting, and all that encompasses, uniform and understood once and for all on Wednesday night. And I did the rest of my tweaking!  the only thing I have left now is to edit Shannon’s posts! (and to practice my part of the presentation tomorrow.)

The revisions I had to make to a few of my posts did not take nearly as long as I thought they might, since I was pleased to find out that I had indeed made most of the necessary revisions or citations.  : )  It always feels liberating to return a class’s worth of library books–or any, for that matter–I had fourteen left that I returned after our meeting  last night and that felt good.  So much of the stressful time while I was doing research I would remind myself that I needed to keep going because it would be rewarding closer to the end of the semester to have finished the most time-consuming parts.  Of course, little did I realize we have be having so many rounds of revision for formatting, citations, photos, and more.  But I think this is a good way to finish and I’m glad to be done (less the editing).

Ah, it’s almost Friday and then after our presentation that’s the weekend!  (time to play the piano, after which I shall work some on my Pop Culture research paper and presentation, followed by economics, then another ppt presentation, and maybe I’ll get to bed around three–yes, I spend my Friday nights on schoolwork.)  One more week with a lot due, but that’s manageable.  And with the close of our “exam” session on May 1, I’ll be all done!  Yea!

I think I have senioritis and I’m not even graduating until December.  Maybe it’s my summer job I’m looking forward to so much.  Yeah, that’s it.

ugggh

April 7th, 2008

so I’ve just spent some hours working on bibliographies and pictures and citing stuff.  It’s been super frustrating, with obstacles and slow progress.  First, trying to scan pictures on my roomie’s scanner and email them to myself…. some of them wouldn’t open.  That was a real pain in the @$$, and one of those pictures is quite valuable to me for one post.  Going between some different posts of mine, trying to add some of the pictures I have to the ones I am almost entirely finished with, has been tedious, with little tangbile results.  I can’t figure out how to have a picture caption, I still have more questions about crediting them in different situations and from different sources, and depending on where I got the picture from, I’ve had trouble trying to get it to align left or right, because of how the url appears in the code….  Arrggggh.  I have been seriously editing and adding to my bibliographies (some, not all), which is a little tangible.  My goal is to have to go bakc to each post as little as possible…ha. yeah, right–I’ve had a lot of cross-referencing to do. On the bright side, um, I can’t think of anything else.

O wait, yes I can.  I noticed how on the category pages with “Cox House,” it seemed to be the only one that wasn’t cut of after “Historical Marker Text” with a “read more….”  I thought about asking Shannon about that, but I’m pleased with myself for looking at some other ones and figuring out how to change the code and make it right. (I don’t tend to do anything with code, except for now with pictures, hence the satisfaction.)

Some time last week when I was searching for sources to beef up my bibliographies, I googled keywords to find books, but I could never seem to find enough info on a book to correctly cite it, particularly the city of publication.  I was pleased to solve that by going to the Library of Congress catalog and searching by the already acquired title, to receive full info on each book.

okay, i’m finally going to go to bed now…zzzzzzz

Getting closer

April 2nd, 2008

I finished making all my links… yea! I’ve been working on finding pictures, but I’m glad I haven’t done too much already, because after tonight’s meeting I know a better way! An easier way, aahhh. A few of my markers I need to actually revise facts. :p I’m working on adding to my bibliographies- it’s interesting some of the stuff that’s out there. Tags I still need to finish up. Editing I will do as soon as I can after Jen and Shannon are ready for it.

My group members determined tonight that I had to be high on something (not caffeine, because I didn’t have any today). Um, what can I say…I’m weird, in a good way. I get happy when I’m productive and when I master new things; perhaps that had something to do with it. Nah, I still had jazz tunes in my head that I was dancing to, as well. Not the first time I’ve been high off of nothing tangible. I thank my roommates for understanding my weirdness!

I felt very special today–nay, privileged. I returned Franks’ book on Union Cavalry to his wife in GW, and she was surprised and said he rarely even lets HER borrow books. And not only that, but Frank let me borrow two books that belong to the Visitor Center. I happen to not be done with those yet, but I will be soon.  As of today, I only have 39 items still checked out from the library (for two classes), so that’s going down! 54 was a record for me, but Elle takes the cake. Oh and something else-on April Fools my roommate made a Stonehenge out of 24 of my books. 🙂 She only has a few checked out, if any….