Ada Lovelace, Amelie, books, Carnivale, Charles Babbage, crafting, crochet, cthulhu, distractions, foreign films, Frankenstein, hplovecraft, inspiration, Lord Byron, Mary Shelley, MicMacs, Mildred Bailey, movies, music, musings, podcasts, reading, recommendations, Ruth Etting, Shelley, steampunk, the past, the supernatural, TheCityofLostChildren, tv shows, writing
I have been putting off writing, waiting for some theme to emerge. Sometimes I wish I had an addictive personality, because at least then I could focus on one thing at a time and delve into it in depth and therefore have some reasonable knowledge on an interest before I flew off in pursuit of another. As it is, I’m rather more like a magpie, darting off after every shiny interest as I see it, leaving it shortly thereafter for a glimpse of something else with promise. My nest is littered with promising bits of this and that, but it feels like I am easily distracted and will never be well-versed in anything!
It’s interesting, though, how sometimes these various interests will link up and intertwine in unexpected ways. Here’s an example. I was reading a book about the creation of Frankenstein. Mary Shelley, P.B. Shelley and Byron, along with Byron’s doctor, got together one stormy night and challenged each other to create a scary stories. This is a much abbreviated relation of events. What I was reading was the book The Monsters: Mary Shelley and the Curse of Frankenstein, which details the incident and those leading up to the event. Anyway, as I was reading through, I learned about Byron’s only legitimate child being Ada Lovelace and how she came to be regarded as the first computer programmer in her work with Charles Babbage on his difference engine. A math genius born of a philandering poetic genius. The world is a fickle and funny place.
Later, I was exploring some Steampunk related things and stumbled upon the graphic webcomic 2D Goggles or The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace & Babbage. http://sydneypadua.com/2dgoggles/lovelace-the-origin-2/ More hysterically related historical information about Byron’s girl genius in the math department. Then, I was reading The Bookman, a very strange Steampunk fiction that mentioned the “Person(s) from Porlock”, which was also mentioned in the 2D Goggles comic and referenced here in wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Person_from_Porlock. It’s just weird how things kept connecting, and it was happening over and over again as I read and looked and listened to different things. I never would have known about Ada Lovelace or her connection to Byron, but suddenly she was everywhere! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ada_lovelace And then she started showing up in other webcomics like harkavagrant: http://harkavagrant.com/index.php?id=298 and Gail Carriger, one of my favorite Steampunk authors mentioned Ada Lovelace Day in her blog with a link here all about it: http://findingada.com/. This is just one of the weird little connecting happenstances. I love learning new things. It’s never-ending!
I have a feeling this entry, like the blog itself, is going to grow long and be filled with a strange variety of subject matter, perhaps not all perfectly linked together. Bear with me. I could separate it all into coherent little individual posts, but I won’t, because I’m lazy and it would mean putting the writing off more and allowing the thoughts and ideas to go stale.
I’ve been wanting to write a little about the HBO show Carnivale and how it’s taken up a good portion of my thoughts the last month or so. I held off, thinking that it probably wouldn’t be of a great deal of interest to anyone as the show itself was cancelled several years ago after 2 seasons and 24 episodes and it was probably the case that everything that could be explored had already been said on the subject long ago. But still… I have thoughts and I still want to share them.
Now, what do I want to say about Carnivale? What are the elements that intrigued me, that captivated my interest? What is it that had me thinking for weeks and more about the show? Why was I so riveted and why do I still have the desire to open a dialogue about it? It haunts me.
The show takes place in 1930s America in the Dust Bowl and in the heart of The Great Depression. It focuses on a traveling carnivale and the perspective of the “carnies” and sideshow “freaks,” the “roadies” and those who travel with them. It’s also the story of an ancient enmity between forces of good and evil, that reside in unexpected vessels.
The supernatural elements in the show were so very haunting and mysterious to me at first view. They still linger and intrigue. Part flash-and-bang false theatrics of the carnivale and part mystery; mixed with surprisingly genuine talents, the show immediately catches attention. Then the main character brings it home: a reluctant, powerful, and unexpected force capable of great good, but also heavily flawed. Things are never as they seem to be. The character who would most easily be typecast as good slowly reveals himself to be utterly, revoltingly corrupt and vile. The force for all the world’s cruelty, power-mongering, and evil. It’s fascinating.
At times gritty and crass, the show deals with society’s crusted underbelly, but also can be beautiful and earnest, with a profound sense of innocence and honesty. It’s an odd mix. I love it.
I own both seasons on dvd and I’ve watched them through a few times. This last time I was affected differently. I paid attention to different elements, caught new things, skipped over portions, and was thoroughly captivated. It was the music that struck me in a profound way. Not just the score, which I’ve always loved, but the music from the period that was used in the show. I had to know more!
I’ve tried to talk to friends about it, but I can’t seem to get across why I am so effected by it. I think I’ve always had an affinity for objects and ephemera of the past. I’ve always been a bit of a daydreamer and I love learning about history and past culture. Maybe I’ve been too romantic with my interest, but I remain captivated even when faced with some of history’s less charming realities. (i.e. I love the Medieval period, but I’ve come to realize I really wouldn’t have wanted to live through it. 🙂 )
Back to the music:
I discovered a site dedicated to the show, but perhaps not avidly kept up now that the show has ended. http://themidway.org/ is where I was delighted to find every song used on the show, not only listed by episode, but available for download. free. Sheer bliss! The scratchy 1920s era crooning of long dead songstresses filled me with images of gramophones and speakeasies. There were also a lot of tracks that feature calliope-type music that you might actually hear in a carnival, midway setting. I focused on the older, nostagic tracks, like “Love Me Or Leave Me” by Ruth Etting (which is used frequently and eerily throughout Carnivale), Maria Callas’s “Casta Diva”, “Rockin’ Chair”, and “Snowball” by Mildred Bailey and “If You Knew Susie (Like I Know Susie)” by Eddie Cantor and His Orchestra. Such Fun!
The show was cancelled before the full unraveling/revealing of the plot was accomplished. I really would have liked to follow the characters further and see whether certain supporting characters survived following their scenes of mysterious demise.
What better fun than to go gallivanting all across the country with a nomadic band of thespians in rag tag glory hunting the next big take and the revelation of an otherworldly, ancient, supernatural mystery? I can’t think of anything… 🙂
Other distractions of late have been Lovecraftian. I’ve gotten back to crocheting teeny Cthulhus in varying hues and listening to podcasts from hppodcraft.com. (http://hppodcraft.com/) My little creatures look similar to this:
Which of course is rather adorable and hilarious in comparison to his hideous and terrifying descriptions throughout the Cthulhu mythos.
For those of you perhaps not so familiar with H.P. Lovecraft and the elder gods, doing a google image search of Cthulhu will be rather enlightening for you. 🙂 or perhaps more appropriately- :3
Other than these distractions, I’ve been watching a lot of movies and scribbling a lot in journals.
The latest movie recommendation I can give is for MicMacs a delightful and very clever French film from the director of Amelie and The City of Lost Children (which of course are both excellent films in their own right).
Sunday I am traveling to Ashland, Oregon to see a play with 3 lovely ladies who are friends, or would-be friends of mine. It promises to be spectacular, even if the play is underwhelming. I have my doubts. (Really? Moliere, 17th century depicted in the 1960s? Psychedelic hypochondriac?) But the road trip promises many delights.
Until next time, my lovely little minions…