Tag Archives: Frank Summers

LA LA Land and Why I blog about it

The story of Hollywood is a great story and fusion of stories. There are many versions of at least parts of that story.  Most people don’t have huge amount of time to devote to the telling or hearing of the tales of that great American industry. LA LA Land is a  Damien Chazelle film which attempts to give us a look behind the veil that covers the lives lived in the capital of American entertainment. Damien Chazelle’s Hollywood does somehow have tonalities of the painterly French Vision of the Artist and I am French and American enough to feel that he has some elements in his visual language that come from the confluence of those cultures. his sense of music, muse, absorption in art and  the nature of genius as displayed in Whiplash have brightened somewhat here. But, while knowing Damien Chazelle  a bit helps us to see the vision on the bigger screen than usual — there are other things the film requires us to know better and more urgently. In this post I focus on Hollywood, love, movies, Los Angeles and the real cost of making choices as the major thing to understand while watching this film.

My parents and I were out celebrating on January 30,2017 and saw the film. It moved me to see what the story attempted and its ambitious ending was a part of the scope of the film exhibited in the greater vision of Cinemascope. From the acting to the choreography and the writing,  I thought this movie was an exciting example of both great innovation and great preservation of important traditions in movie-making.  The Washington Post review of what’s up with this year’s Oscars had to focus on this film because of its many nominations. But there was a follow-up  story  about the backlash to so much love coming to this new musical from the Academy. I think that the thing that distinguishes the film most is a sequence which comes near the end and reminds me of two other films. It reminds me of the opening sequence of the fine animated film UP! which makes that movie and it reminds me of the early montage sequence cut from The Big Chill in which Kevin Costner plays the deceased character Alex. The sequence changes all else there is and I relate to it profoundly — it adds the blues to the Jazz that defines much of the film and it pushes American audiences to understand the tensions that really exist in love, responsibility, happiness, communication and the needs of kids as well as the urgency of earning a living. In the scene around the sequence the central characters are in a real sense mysterious strangers where an observer would be challenged to detect the mystery but would readily know that they were strangers.

Movie-Made America is a book which attempts to tell part of that story which is the story of all Hollywood as it relates to all America. I had the book assigned to me back in the 1990s in a class on the history of popular culture at Louisiana State University and I read it again later on.   This film is also really quite a thoughtful story about the relationship between Hollywood and Los Angeles as the dream capital and the rest of the country.  The intrinsic challenge which is part of this film is that of telling that historical and social tale which defines the film industry while telling this very specific love story. That larger social challenge  is certainly not fully met in the film but the full story of Hollywood is quite a story to tell.


There is not much one can say about the stuff dreams are made of that falls into the realm of journalism and perhaps less that falls into the realm of hard sciences. But movies are dreams and Jazz music is a language of dreams as well and actresses and pianists long to interpret the substance of other people’s dreams. The distance between Emma Stone and Mia is not an easy distance to determine. They both come from other states in the West to seek the fulfillment of screen dreams in Hollywood. Presumably Ryan Gosling is less like Sebastian. But the movie speaks to far more than that. It speaks to  All American dreaming of greatness and the struggles they face and personal costs that can never be calculated. Like a friend of mine who is a black rocket scientist dreamer in a largely white world it speaks through the white  Jazz man in L.A. about greatness that is off the racial and regional beat. This movie allows anyone, especially Americans, to seriously remember and evaluate where their own dreams have taken them.



In La La Land,  a film that is the most movie oriented film I can remember in quite a while, one of the major characters is not directly tied to the movies. We can remember seeing Julianne Hough, Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin and Katherine Zeta Jones remind us of the massive meaning of the music scene in L.A. in Rock of Ages not too long ago.  But many of us forget that Los Angeles is a real town where music and movies have a complicated industrial relationship but real human being in both worlds have very human relationships. Jazz pianist Sebastian as played by Ryan Gosling reminds us of the  way that entertainment lives in L.A. and that many of the performing arts are located as largely there at any industrial level and worldwide magnitude as they are in any other city. The purist with a small club is part of the total picture of L.A. life — there two we remember Rock of Ages. Albums from small producers and independent labels may still very likely hail from L.A.  in one sense or another. The people who are in that world are people as complicated and authentically human Mia  Dolan and Sebastian. My father left the film saying it reminded him of West Side Story, a very New York musical. But perhaps that is what they each had in common — they each spoke of a great American coastal city in a very specific time. The recent election reminds us of what the Oceanic  coasts have in common. The Gulf Coast and the Great Lakes are not inland either but they are a separate vibe altogether.

Some reviews of the movie have been kinder than others but most can see the appeal of the couple  Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and Mia (Emma Stone)  who are young nice to look at and are drawn together by their common location and a respect each has for the others desire to do what they love as they try to do that as well. Success is hard to define but the path to mounting successes presents them with choices and with each set of decisions the fragile fabric of their love affair is strained and then tattered, and the dreams they worked so hard to maintain in each other threaten to rip them apart. The Wall Street Journal review is I think more on point than most. But, although I deeply respect the film, I am not ready to give up on the super happy endings. I would love to have one myself. But this is a very human film about what people can believe might happen who are in the habit of looking both at greatness and personal cost in their lives. Our political class could learn something from it too –but it might be a bit to subtle for many of them. That is an uncharitable remark, the film is not uncharitable.



What I say is see the movie and play it over in your own head ….

American Snapshot: Five Movies and the ACM Awards Show

This will be a rambling post as many of mine are. However, it will seek a window into America and America’s place in the world through looking at the Academy of Country Music awards show held in Las Vegas and broadcast on CBS and through five films. The films are Twelve Years a Slave, Noah, Divergent, God is Not Dead, Son of God and Frozen. The films are admittedly different from one another. Nor will this offer five separate and fully satisfactory reviews of each and everyone of these films. I also will not explain why I picked these films and left out others that have caught my attention — such as Dallas Buyers Club, The Great Gatsby and The Hunger Games. in terms of award shows, the Oscars, the Grammys and American Music Awards could all make a case for having more to say about America than the one I chose. But this is the set of six media expressions I have chosen for this essay.

Let us knock out a few things that maybe unite these pieces of popular culture:

1, All got pretty good ratings compared to the vast majority of things made in the world of arts and media.

2. All were available to be viewed In Abbeville, Louisiana as soon as or shortly after being released (although that is not where I viewed all of them).

3. All spoke a visual and audio language which was creative and innovative in places and certainly very competent but not revolutionary  or entirely new in approach.

4. All made an attempt to cultivate and express a moral perspective in a t least part of their production.

5. All addressed some pressing issues for society directly or indirectly.

6. All were forms of commercial entertainment.

7. All were aired or exhibited primarily in English.

8. All were to a substantial degree American productions regardless of what other talent, money and leadership was involved.

9. All were geared in large part to an American first audience.

10. They all address educators and students more than many other products of entertainment. this does not apply as much to the ACM awards.

This blog is full of information about me but nonetheless I often choose to tie what I am writing about directly to the life experience from which I approached the subjects that have gained my attention.  I am going to do that again before we turn to the specifics of the films. That is in part because America is not some big generic homogeneity. America is made up of the experience of millions of individual Americans as well their families, communities and networks of associations.  Documenting my own community is in large part what this blog has always been about.

Let’s face it  — or let me face it — it is not easy to determine why exactly I blog. I have at times written for office memoranda, newsletters, newspapers and magazines where one could see some direct connection to income that does not exist with this blog. I have also written poetry, short stories and novels which were easy to understand in the context of all the things people have done for art or out of artistic expression and inclinations.  But this blog is not of either of those types of expression. I think it would be hard to argue that it is an entirely rational exercise for me to have written so much here. But I do write, am writing and have written.

One of the several areas of human activity which has engaged my interest here has been the work of some others who write, act, speak, sing and photograph. Some of that type of blogging has reported on the good work being done by relatives and friends. In addition, I have written more about those sorts of things on my Facebook timeline. A great deal of that has involved theater and video productions by family

One of those days with lots of medium sized tasks. This evening I am off to watch my nephew Eli perform in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at John Paul the great Academy. First I will hopefully be joining my sister (Eli’s mother) and the rest of her family for an early supper.

Here, in e-mail and on Facebook I try to keep track of and comment upon the lives and work of many talented associates. I do have many talented friends and acquaintances doing many things and I only manage to mention a few in my blog or on this Facebook timeline. However one example of someone I have known well for many years and had significant dealings with is John T. Landry. Our connections relate to roles we have both played in the University which is my undergraduate Alma Mater and is now the University of Louisiana. They relate to Jesuit retreats at Our Lady of the Oaks, to family friends, to buying cars, to political races  and to personal disagreements. They have not in the thirty busy years of his life I have seen related to arts directly. But this is one friend that comes to the fore because recently he has moved from someone I have known in many other contexts but only am just starting to know as an artist. John T. Landry is launched an art exhibit in April. I must admit that I was unaware of these expressions and impressions. I had looked forward to catching his exhibit in Kaplan but my grandfather’s death and funeral interfered. Although without such distractions I do not get everywhere I would like to arrive these days. It should be possible to find out more about the exhibit at this website and how much of it is open to the public.

I have family member’s who are engrossed in work that matters to them. I taught John Paul his first film class in a year of home school classes. My brother John Paul Summers has filmed this video. Dr, Kevin Roberts was the Headmaster (if that is the term) at John Paul the Great Academy where my nieces and nephews have been involved Alyse E. Spiehler graduated, Anika and Soren attended and where Eli and Elliot attend today. John Paul there this year and will be leaving but my sister Mary will be starting there next year and all her children will be there as well. John Paul also has a full service video business and taught video at JPG along with other subjects.

Among the better experiences of this Lent was  heading off to hear my sister Sarah give a Lenten oration and reflection in the Lenten Mission series at St. John’s Cathedral. Sarah has done wonderful work with drama in Home school and in various theaters. Her daughter Alyse founded the drama club at JPG with her influence and in her own day she was a wonder with two wonderful sisters in speech tournaments.  Alyse and Anika performed several times in her productions and elsewhere. Both have qualified to compete in National Speech tournaments. 

My niece Anika this qualified by  competing at the her mother’s old alma mater Saint Thomas More High School where her father was also a standout. Her wins and place awards in speech tournaments for my legal alma mater Abbeville High School have lightened several weekends. I am wishing her the best in this continuing journey.  My Christmas season this year was made worthwhile by seeing her twice perform  in a very nice piece at Abbeville High.

Frank Wynerth Summers III's photo.
Frank Wynerth Summers III's photo.


If you grade on the curve this play was very effective and did more to get me into the spirit than anything else has this year. I dressed up a little Friday, bought my niece some flowers and was delighted for a while by the performance. Flowers and dressing up are not required, just my tradition when Anika or some other relatives perform. I left the comical and heartwarming play feeling edified and merry although that single event cannot overcome all the reasons this is a rough time at best. I recommend the Abbeville High Christmas play to get into the Christmas spirit. I have never had a year when it was harder to get into the spirit of the holidays than this year and have had trouble even trying to wrap a few gifts. But her performance and the production as a whole were redeeming and precious to me.

I went to see my niece Anika perform and portray the role of Beth Bradley in the opening performance of the Abbeville High School production of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. She did an exceptionally good job and it was a very good production. I did what I could to promote the play by posting on my sizable list on Facebook after attending the first time when there was one Sunday performance remaining and tickets could be bought at the door. I paid for the first performance and my mother had already offered to pay for that last one which will be the final matinee on the following Sunday at 2:00.
My mother has written and published a play in a university press Miracle at Loreauville as well as seeing many productions of her play Emmanuel: God is With Us   in different versions. Further she has supported family work in the lively arts and  is involved in many forms of media.
My father competed in high school speech tournaments. He has argued cases in courts, preached many times and written and played songs.  He and I have collaborated in some of those attempts and productions.
I myself have done quite a bit in the performing arts, video and photography in quite a few places. Together with all those I care about who work in those venues these personal endeavors inform and shape my vision. I also know a lot of people who have been pretty successful in commercial terms. In my fairly immediate family  there is Tasso Smith  whose full name is  Carl Tasso Smith IV. He  is a vocalist and  guitarist for Youngblood Hawke which is a band developed in San Antonio, Texas which  in its first few years with a record  deal has appeared on all of the top four broadcast television networks, sold it themes to numerous commercial and entertainment entities and has generated a lot of buzz and attention for it crafted and somewhat artsy rock sound.  Tasso is my first cousin the son of Carl Tasso Smith III  who has been many things and has many skills but has long earned his keep in the family agribusiness concern which is a major producer of peas. Tasso’s  mothermy father’s youngest sister Beverly Summers Smith, who goes by the name Missi Smith and under that name has produced, shown and sold many works of art.  Tasso and I are different and share a birthday in different years but also a very rich and complex American identity.  Just recently I heard Youngblood Hawke on  the CW’s new tv show The 100. The list keeps getting longer. But this was clearer, more featured and more woven into the plot than most TV drama songs and score are — so kudos on that.
With the exception of Tasso it may seem like a lot of my artistic milieu is tied to education and such but I think the films I have chosen all relate to educational crises as well. They all have something to say to educators.

I don’t review many films in this blog anymore. At least I have not lately.  I suppose  there is more reason to review one film well than to skim over a bunch of them in one post. Nonetheless, I want to take a look at what a few expressions in th media may have to say about America. So let’s get started on this little adventure. There have been a lot of movies that I have found the time to watch in recent days and nights. Over the past year there have been even more. In fact my online comments about The Great Gatsby, Noah and some other films this year as well as Louisiana Story, Belizaire the Cajun, Father of the Bride, Passion of the Christ and Gone With the Wind  have been a significant part of my commentary about America and the world.

Pitre,is not a very common name in the United States nor in the Anglophone world really. But here in this blog it has a film connotation which one should think a reference one might pronounce like Amanda Peet’s  last name really   means Glen Pitre. One of my favorite movie-makers, Glen Pitre was born on November 10, 1955 and is from Cutoff Louisiana. He worked his way through Harvard by shrimping in the summers and became a well-respected American screenwriter and film director. His debut film Belizaire the Cajun was exhibited in the Un Certain Regard section at the Cannes Film Festival in 1986. Pitre films written and directed since 1986 include: Belizaire the Cajun (1986), Haunted Waters (1997), Good for What Ails You (1998), The Scoundrel’s Wife (2002), Top Speed (2003), Hurricane on the Bayou (2006), American Creole: New Orleans Reunion (2006), Journey Across India (2007),  The Man Who Came Back (2008),  Huit Piastres Et Demie!  (unk. date), La Fievre Jaune/Yellow Fever (unk. date) and Cigarettes and Nylons (2013?-2014?).

I have fallen out of some loops including some that watch the most Pitre films. But I am always a pitre viewer when I approach any film. I met Pitre at a writer’s conference in South Louisiana in the 2002-2004 time-frame and as of this writing he is my Facebook friend but we have never been close or anything approaching close. It is certainly not disrespect of any kind which has me commenting on other films than his in this list. Pitre, by reference to education worked his way through Harvard University by shrimping every summer while in school. That is a very physical occupation and Pitre has a localized but significant physical challenge.

So now let us turn again to my list of films.The films are Twelve Years a Slave, Noah, Divergent, God is Not Dead, Son of God and Frozen. We are also looking here at the ACM awards.

God is Not Dead! has some sequences shot in my graduate alma mater which is Louisiana State University. The addresses a fictional situation from a particular point of view rooted in American Evangelical Christianity. There clearly are professors and instructors who persecute Christians and others in any way they can conveniently do so. The fictional defense of theism in a philosophy class is a convenient way to lay out some of the debate about whether these issues are able to be addressed and to show one way of addressing both theism and Christianity.  The stories and characters are also pretty good and well crafted and the film is compelling enough.  It also comes from Pure Flix which has been a stable producing ever more competent films with the same perspective and some actors who have been involved in those productions or similar ones before. Nonetheless, one can legitimately wonder if the film will give comfort to neo-fascists and others I would not like to comfort who will disrupt education on the pretext of defending God.

It also has an appearance by Willie Robertson  and his wife Korie. This Robertson is the CEO of the Commander companies and the son of the more controversial Phil Robertson. I remembers the controversy over his comments about homosexuals and blacks. I have read the GQ article on the Robertsons and Duck Dynasty with my own eyes. It is perhaps true that it is severely edited in ways which must distort some of the context of the remarks attributed to Phil Robertson. In terms of reveling cultural fissures and reasons for conflict between various parts of America that does seem to be at the heart of the article. The writer seems eager to show that he also can shoot and is perhaps alluding to the possible desirability of another War between the States without stating it out right and up front. However, the overall tone on both sides is not entirely unattractive. In itself it would not make me despair for the future of our current United States.

The theological context for Robertson’s remarks is not really understood much less allowed for in the article but neither is it too viciously distorted. The nightmare of a society like ours trying to live under one set of “domestic regimes” is made a little clearer. In a federal union that should not even be considered an issue. I got my summary from WordPress on my blog which has come down a long way since last year. However, the most popular segment was the Model Constitution of the United States which may be because some people see real federalism is the only real hope for an American future worth living in at all. But this goes further than the film itself. Nonetheless, it is a marker in the discussion of the spiritual in America and does not exist in a vacuum.

 Noah is our next God-centered film. I saw the Darren Aronofsky film Noah and wrote about it on my Facebook timeline the same night on which I and my parents had viewed this evening. I enjoyed seeing Russel Crowe and Jennifer Connelly revisit a troubled marriage after doing it so well in A Beautiful Mind. I thought Emma Watson and Anthony Hopkins both delivered memorable performances and Winstone, Lerman, Booth, Carroll and Davenport all made varied roles worth watching. The film was better than I had expected in lots of different ways. It was morally thoughtful, visually spectacular and had careful elaborations of many Biblical themes from early Genesis that are often overlooked. It had the right kind of tone for such a dark and heavy story. Nonetheless, it was an extremely challenging story and I can imagine many honest people of goodwill choosing not to endorse it in any way and finding it unpalatable as well. Beyond all of that, it was very original in its efforts to depict what was not spelled out but was arguably suggested in Holy Writ. I definitely would have to give it a thumbs-up in the old Siskel and Ebert tradition. I think this film falls somewhere between the two sides portrayed in  God is Not Dead! It cannot be simply recommended for all purposes to all but it does make me hope for other serious films of creative merit in the world on religious topics.

That brings us to the Jesus story spun off from the very popular cable series The Bible under the leadership of power couple Mark Burnett and Roma Downey  I went to see Son of God during carnival season. I should  probably have saved Son of God for Lent which started the next Wednesday but I decided to see it sooner. This is one of the shapeless days that are not unusual in my life.  It was a pretty good film at least and like all films depicting the gospel story and the life of Christ it had its own unique set of strengths and weaknesses. For those who have no exposure to the life of Christ it is a lot more than nothing. It does some things quite well and makes some questionable choices as well. It is really weak on a handful of choices and portrayals. What the perspective behind the project may be as a whole is always debatable. Jesus of Nazareth by Zeferelli with big portions of the Passion of the Christ edited in and all sorts of other films including King of Kings and The Greatest Story Ever Told probably come together in my mind to form the depiction in my own mind. No film really captures it as I might wish but I am sure if I had the resources to have a film made it would have many weaknesses as well. The truth is that most filmmakers have a much smaller conception of Jesus Christ than the New Testament offers. I am still not saying Roma Downey and Mark Burnett have not done some good. I think they have and the idea of man with a presence beyond explanation is better captured than in most films. But over all it confirms people in where they are and edifies and educates little about Christ or the Bible. I think for me the positive value is increased familiarity with themes in the Bible and Christianity.

Divergent is very much a film about education and young people finding their way into the world. It is set in a future world which after an apocalypse has made different choices. There seems to be no obvious religion except a generic one embedded in the educational system itself. I think one could argue that it represents an effort of postmodern and relativist secular humanism to  deal with religious and educational questions it has failed miserably to address so far. But any Christian, Jew, Pagan, Buddhist or Muslim could watch it and see some things of interest tot heir own views of education.

Twelve Years A Slave raises issues of race, education, religion and struggle. It is more realistic than many portrayals and allows a clever viewer places to bring forth his or her won doubts an critiques about the story, the film and the subject. As we remember the fiftieth anniversary of the Civil Rights Act we can all stand to revisit the history this film portrays. it is not a sufficient source for all that history but it adds to the discussion.

Frozen is a beautiful film which portrays Scandinavian culture in a Disney Fairy Tale. It is a good film and has its moral voice. There is no Christianity in the Christian Era Scandinavia but no attack on it either. The pagan and secular trends of these societies are treated in reasonable House of Mouse fashion. The soundtrack is good.  It is solid children’s entertainment.

The ACM awards are a big show now with numerous venues in Vegas. I am not likely to be very happy or successful in my own estimation but  I am assertive and ambitious anyway. I think I have something to contribute to the national media discussion and the ACM awards show small town and rural southerners reaching an audience and forming a big part of a national audience.  I like the show and many of my friends do.

I think this blog is relevant to the big discussions and trends in our country. I hope it is relevant to the readers as well. But there are forces and choices we must deal with that are made manifest in our popular culture. That is better than there not being manifest at all.



Peacework and Wargames: The Visions We Share

It may be a sign of megalomania or of a lack of focus. But I do write notes and posts that sort of treat the whole world at a given moment. I am writing this note in that extremely ambitious scope of trying to see roughly where the world is right now. That is of course far too much to do in so few words. In addition to constraints of length it imposes too many demands of other kinds on me and on my readers. Yet I feel drawn and compelled to this attempt to glimpse the current state of the world. Once again I sort of want to set down where the world is just at this moment before Spring in 2013.
This is one of the more shapeless and rambling notes and blog posts which I occasionally write. The unifying theme among the motifs and issues discussed in this Facebook Note and Blog Post is simply that in late February of 2013 there is a relevance to me in each of the things I discuss here. In other words these are the things on my mind which I do not deem too personal, secret or trivial to include in something like this.

I am going to discuss four subjects and also try to interrelate them a little bit. These subjects are:

1. The legacy of Pope Benedict XVI and his role as a retired Pope.
2. The economic future of this country, my state and region and the world as these things relate to a few specific political and social issues.
3. The changing face of military power.
4. The 2013 Academy Awards Presentations and the State of the film industry.

It is perhaps possible to suggest a theme beyond time alone. These questions mostly arise at the same time but I am also looking at all of them from the point of view of awareness of fundamental things. It is not a trivial challenge for any group or institution to keep a correct and vital connection with the real dynamic roots and essential vital energies that keep it alive. I will be looking at how the Catholic Church, Hollywood, the US military and the economy are challenged to remain properly connected to their real energies…

There will be many developments over time which will reveal the real legacy of Pope Benedict XVI more completely than it can be revealed now. However, I think some things can be well understood already. He accomplished something very significant simply by being the second consecutive non-Italian Pope. Alone Pope John Paul II could have been an anomaly but two makes a pattern. There is also the fact that he was able to bring a great deal of experience from a broad sampling of pastoral and doctrinal problems to bear as he sought out the new evangelization and the new ecumenism. However, I think the greatest legacy of the recent pontificate in recent terms will be in the field of liturgy which in turn relates to Christian unity and other matters in a fairly direct way. I think including the Anglican use and the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite of the Mass have made the Church more Catholic and complete in ways that are really significant…
A relevant link to understand the role and significance of the extraordinary form can be found just below.


Benedict XVI has reminded the world’s Catholics of the richness of community which exists in the worship of the church. This are the liturgical Rites of the Catholic Church?

It has been no mystery to the Church leadership that three major groupings of Rites exist in the Catholic Church with one of them divided into what constitutes almost two major groupings. All the Cardinals in the Conclave are likely aware that from these four parent rites over twenty liturgical Rites (Western and Eastern) have developed which are in union with the Holy See. But for a large percentage of the majority of Roman Catholics these realites are remote enough. Many have little or no knowledge of worship beyond the Roman Rite. Practical fellowship in the many rites which in turn constitute the Antiochian Rite (Syria) and the Alexandrian Rite (Egypt) rarely occurs for most of them. The Byzantine Rite is only slightly better known and few know it derived derived as a major Rite from the Antiochian, under the influence of St. Basil and St. John Chrysostom. More freedom and harmony with these rites and with the Orthodox Christians to which they often relate in many ways was one of the goals of the Second Vatican Council. Things have improved in that regard over the last fifty years and Benedict XVI has made a contribution in that regard but his main effect on these matters has been indirect.

In much of the world the use of particular words in the Catholic mass may not seem very important and even the gathering of 115 men in red hats to elect a Pope may not seem significant. But the ritual is important, the voice is often heard and people know that the Pope is a leader of opinion and ideals for many with whom they currently share the planet. In a bit I will turn to the Academy Awards which also are a compelling ritual and also symbolize a powerful voice in the world and also are very much of interest to many people who would not have to be interested in them. It is easy for certain people to believe that political and economic news is more compelling than it is. Modern people tend to think that all the pageants of royalty and tribal politics were superfluous extras and that the modern era has got it right. But there is quite a bit of evidence that such rituals were vital to maintaining even a minimum of the healthier kind of interest in government. That same general area of evidence leads us to believe huge numbers of the wrong people are alienated and disconnected as regards much of the political and macroeconomic world. There are many among America’s strongest allies and worst enemies who see in the current and concurrently running second terms for Obama in the White House and for Ban Ki-Moon at the UN a season for steady progress for world peace and prosperity as well as opportunity for their own country’s progress. Russia is able to undertake key social and economic reforms as it grows into a new position, China builds up its military, North Korea is perfecting the atomic warhead and the ICBM and Brazil is flexing its regional economic muscle. In the United Kingdom there has emerged strong support from all major political parties for increased funding towards and the official establishment of the External Advisory Service in the EU as well as other initiatives by Europe to act as a single power able to make real progress on promoting peace and development in conflict-affected zones and fragile states.
The efforts of various powers around the world comes out in a context of enthusiasm by Europeans and Asia’s little dragons (the relatively small trading powers for foundations of a better world order. There is a context for such efforts which all nations have agreed to and in which famous Americans of means have played a major role. Ted Turner, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet among others have really made an impact in the efforts to give effect to the agreements which were reached under the term Millennium Development Goals. The millennium is well under way now and 2015 was a benchmark year in this plan so little discussed and reported in this country. About a billion of Earth’s people live in countries where the social, political and economic order is largely defined by repeated cycles of political and criminal violence. The Millennium Development Goals such as halving extreme poverty, providing universal primary (or elementary) school education and stopping the spread of AIDS have proven very difficult to achieve where multiple low grade civil wars are shaping the live of the poor and those seeking to interact with them. Largely because of violence which often has global dimensions the many millions in conflict are making little progress and no fragile state or conflict-affected region is likely to achieve a single Millennium Development Goal. The United Nations, the European Union and many other institutions clearly indicate that for these millions to progress their states must undergo structural change. Many countries with little chance of positive reform must develop more capable civic and state institutions, transform their security and justice sectors and be in a position to deal with various parties and factions long at war of one kind or another to bring about demobilization and reconciliation. These reforms would be necessary before the current world order would breathe life into weak economies and foster new relationships between the citizen and the state in each of these countries and nations. One cannot help but wonder if all the distance between these Goals and reality is just an accident or whether perhaps the order we currently live in does not support these goals at all.

However, the same powers that have sought these reforms sense that they are not succeeding as well as could be hoped. Britain’s Conservative political leaders and Prime Minister can smell and taste the geopolitical winds enough to feel the need for security and will consider spending considerable monies made available by this move for a stabilizing internationalism and an expansion of the UK’s aid budget to be used on more old fashioned kinds of military peacekeeping and even more purely conventional defense-related projects.
The UK which has quite a bit of experience building Empires is both really interested in a better world and really aware it must remain engaged in a world where China, Russia, new organizations and international Islamism or very much engaged. For each of these powers armed humanitarianism is part of the total world strategy Britain will not be left out and is allocating 30% of the UK aid budget to fragile and conflict-affected states. This development will involve some defense profile as well. The Brits have declared that their world strategies and interest are enhanced and their engagement effectiveness is improved when the Ministry of Defense, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for International Development work together, “sharing expertise while co-ordinating policy and strategy.”
In this complex world America has a government that does not draw up budgets, does not understand how to compare debt. Our public indebtedness is about one hundred trillion and not sixteen trillion dollars. It does not understand the international networks that can fuse and separate and has not really allocated sufficient resources to countering the kind of weapons postulated in the film Red Dawn which would take the whole internet off line, fry CPUs and jam communications simultaneously. We see the world adjusting to new patterns of reliance, we know carrier killer missiles with small warheads on mobile launchers can be rained down from space with amazing speed and we see that a new generation of projectiles hunt conventional rocketry more effectively than ever before but largely we do not adjust to these challenges but instead focus only on the lessons of recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. We see that our own social cohesion is under strain but really keep increasing the strain and not really securing the future and not thinking of what an American solution ought to be in deep terms.

I believe our models for economics and military projections are flawed badly. If we do not do a lot better soon there will be consequences. The solution does involve being alarmed but does not involve seeing the whole world as made up of full-fledged enemies. That approach would be one of many that would produce the same bad result. The result would be what?

The United States of America is moving towards a series of catastrophic military disasters. The country will awaken sooner or later to a future of having been entirely overrun by its enemies. The time for reform and appropriate action is quickly coming to an end.

Things are going to get a lot rougher than most people are prepared to deal with I fear. There is little else to say about the situation’s overall status and stature. There is a lot to say about what exactly I mean by that. However, for this note the short paragraphs above will have to do…

I now want to discuss the Oscars which I watched with interest on Sunday, February 24, 2013. The struggle for any kind of recognition this year was very intense. The year saw a lot of films that were at least of decent quality and many that had some ideas to work with as well.

I have not posted or written as much about the movies this year as I sometimes do. I did post a status after Dad and I went to see The Impossible in Abbeville one night. I also posted a review of Blood on the Bayou. I indicated similar things about both very different movies. I thought they were (on somewhat different scales) very good, solid picture and sound and well acted throughout. I also thought this was a great year for movies. The films seemed varied & excellent and on a year when I was able to go to more movies than I have in most recent years. It was also a year when I saw more movies than most but not all years of my life.

I have seen quite a few memorable movies in the last twelve months. The biggest one I missed was Amour. Other movies I have enjoyed were: Lincoln, Les Miserables, Zero Dark Thirty, Life of Pi, Silver Linings Playbook, Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild (on DVD), Anna Karenina, Parental Guidance, The Cirque de Soleil Movie, Jack Reacher, The Hobbit, Blood on the Bayou, Django Unchained, Dark Knight Rises, Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Atlas Shrugged Part Two, Skyfall, Hunger Games and Red Dawn. Then on DVD for previous years I saw for the first time Hugo and My Week with Marilyn. Movies besides Amour which I missed were Flight, The Master, Brave, Wreck-it Ralph and Moonrise Kingdom. However, I did see Moonrise Kingdom on DVD. I also thought the Twilight : Breaking Dawn Part Two did not deserve the Razzies but it was not the best even of that franchise. I was happy to see that Kristen Stewart held her head up at the Oscars and made a stunning presentation of herself after her Razzy as worst actress. The truth is I like The Avengers and the Hobbit and I did really like the Kristen Stewart and Charlize Theron work as well as most of the film titles Snow White and the Huntsman. The Twilight film joined with these films in selling a great deal of the popcorn and soda which along with the kids movies sales provide a place for all of us to watch the big screen filled with light.

Hollywood is a huge industry in America and it is our best claim to the kind of influence other people have a hard time stealing in a very competitive world. I support the movies by subscribing to Netflix, going to films and discussing them partly out of patriotic concern for a great American institution. But we all have our limits, I still chose not to see most of the movies that came out and I go to discount day matinees whenever possible. We live in a dangerous and intense world but sometimes the way we spend our leisure matters more than we might think. I thought this was a good year for a film with themes like those of Argo to be featured. I am glad it won best picture and hope we will use it and the other three political nominees Les Miserables, Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty to remember that we cannot pretend governance doesn’t matter – it always does in the end.

Politics &Television in a Personal Note About a Day & a Place on My Life’s Timeline: A recopied Facebook Note

Politics and Television in a Personal Note About a Day and a Place on My Life’s Timeline
by Frank Wynerth Summers III on Monday, January 14, 2013 at 2:27pm ·
Aside from having a terribly long title for this Facebook Note which will in time also become a Blog Post on Word Press more or less recopied in the same form I have little distinct structure for this note.I have posted many things about the dramatic efforts of my younger relatives and some of my associates and I have quite a few people on my Facebook list who work either in Hollywood or New York’s media scene or in local or cable tlevision. This note is not about any of the people on my list. It is not about those who have left my list either. It is about how the media and the screens in my life interacted for one day with the life and situation in which I move and exist. The connections are not extremely logical and compelling. They are real connections and one more insight into the world of electrons in which so many of us spend some of our time. It is a crowded rambling note which is not the list centered type of note I sometimes do as a round-up. This is among many other things nearly the end of President Barack Hussein Obama’s first term as President of the United States of America. Today I listened to a fairly bad reception version of his proposed last press conference of this term. He addressed the debt ceiling, the hangover of the fiscal cliff, the deficit, gun control and other matters. He did not discuss deporting Piers Morgan nor building a Death Star like the one in the Star Wars series of films. Those were petions on his website which I mentioned in a recent post on the Lords of the Blog where I frequently comment. While quite a fan of Star Wars and of real space programs I support his administration in not building a Death Star. We are completely on the same page in that particular discussion.

Another week has begun. For me it is less significant than for most others that it is Monday. The start of the work week is not really a clear marker for me of a very different set of obligations than it is for others. The Christian season of Chrsitmas is absolutely and completely closed as of yesterday. For most Christians the last few days waver between barely noticed and not noticed at all as being Christmas and that has been the case for a long time. This house and my room were stripped of decorations on the day after Epiphany which in many places long ago was the absolute last day of Christmas. For many Americans it ends on New Year and for some the on the Twenty-Sixth. The Golden Globes were last night. I did not see them live and will return to that and to the significance of Jodie Foster’s speech and Bill Clinton’s appearance.

Jodie Foster’s speech had some bleeped out moments apparently. Did those moments include “cussing” or the words “I am Lesbian” I surely do not know. Amid many other things she acknowledged her longtime friend Cydney as the co parent of her children and went 99% of the way to saying she was at least her former lover and domestic companion. She also seemed to expose that she is feeling lonely and that her mother has dementia. Ms. Foster has been an interest of min over the years in different ways. Much less in the last ten years than in the previous thirty but I still have an interest in her and would have been happy to see the Golden Globes. The last few years have really been about letting go of more and more expectations. There was a time when I felt it likely I would meet Jodie Foster at length at some time in the future. Our lives have barely brushed in few small ways over the years. However, that belongs in an alternative future that does not flow out of this very real present.

I started this Note on January 13, 2013. I really hate the enduring pointlessness to which so much of my life has long been directed. Yesterday was the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord in the Roman Catholic Church and some other Christian Communions. There are three events which signal the start of Jesus’s public ministry. One was the Trial in the Desert, another was the Wedding at Cana and the third is the Baptism of by St. John the Baptist in the Jordan River. These events join to form the launching point of the public man Jesus the Christ. Jesus was a young man compared to Socrates, Confucius, the Gauyotoma Buddah, and leaders near his time in the spiritual world under his political society like Livy and Mamonides. To position him against the Hippy culture’s axiom he was probably one of those just over thirty whom they could not trust. To compare him to Confucius he was younger than the forty years old before which each man should devote himself to his family. Jesus was certainly a man not a boy. The historian Josephus is one source we have for the milieu of the Baptist and the Christ. One source but not the only source. I will not write here about my view of the hisorical Jesus whom I have described elsewhere. Yesterday when I began this note was Sunday and it was also the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Catholic Church and yes I think such an event actually occurred. That commemoration is the official close of the Christmas Season.

Sunday was also a day when Jodie Foster who has played a nun, an atheist, freethinkers and bizarre near fundamentlist isolates was recognized for her work and received the Cecil B. Demille Lifetime Achievement Award at the Golden Globes. For years I have had access to DirecTV but not now. So I missed this and had to catch up online. From airwaves I was able to watch NFL Playoff games on the television channels available where I am and both were good games. Despite nearby stations with unreachable NBC and PBS channels I did miss out on seeing the Golden Globes and Downton Abbey because we do not get either NBC or PBS. So, it was in that context that I watched other things that followed seeing Matt Ryan lead the Falcons to victory and watched Tom Brady lead the Patriots to a victory which made him the person to win the most playoff games of any NFL quarterback. It was kind of an odd television day in which television was a principal concern and fixation. But while television took much of my time it did not occupy all of my thoughts. I am also aware that in my end of the year note I did not mention the London OLympics which were very good television this year and which I watched devotedly.

I did go to mass at St. James Chapel. Then there were times spent reading, doing chores and being online. But largely there were the blues. It was a bluesy and lousy kind of day more than it was anything else. A day to feel down and know why without fully enumerating all the reasons. The days come when one wonders exactly what ought to be hoped for in life and yet there are other days when one wonders if one ought to hope at all. In addition to the endless nonsense of my own struggle to avoid complete and total alienation there is far more at stake. I did watch Downton Abbey online today and that sense of alienation may be widespread enough to attract lots of people to the audience for that show. The people suffer there but they are engaged and they matter to one another. The sense of those relationships fitting into a society which values them is also important. There is a lot more I could say about the show but won’t. Julian Fellows who is a Baron and sits in the House of Lords has possibly heard of me through LOTB. Thus as is often the case my world keeps getting smaller. Popular culture and personal life blend in together.

My writing on my blog and my work on Facebook have both declined enormously over recent years. My following on my blog has declined with the blog’s functionality. Yet 72 countries read from the blog in 2012. The constant mess of organiztional and technical disorder has been the hellish caousel of my life as a writer and photographer but there is still a connection to some people outside my little room and few close associates. I am in a state of mind where I find myself looking at the culture and society around me a bit in the way that a child on a merry-go-round or carousel looks at the larger world. The context is important and even inescapably part of the spinning diversion but the spinning diversion is very comfortable as well. Smiling outside of photographs is not something I do very much any more. I think that this fact has more significance than I could admit for a long time. I am quite prepared to journey off into a bleak and dark future. It is simply tiring to do so without registering one’s objections.

There are certain areas of my life and certain associations where simply too much time has passed and too much has happened to consider repairing any of the real wrongs or deficits this side of the Eternal. The eternal is the aspect of things I do not choose to discuss in this format. Some people may think I discuss it all the time but they are not correct. There are other areas where there is simply too little time left for me to feel any hope for the various components to arrange themselves well. Those are two sides of life regions in which I do not much believe that life can be made less than horrific anymore. Jodie Foster’s speech seems to indicate that at fifty she really does not feel that her prospects in life need to have narrowed greatly. She resents the degree to which they have I think. That is a very modern American point of view and one that I really do not share. But I do think it is alright to try to make things better and hope it will end up so. Those tagged in this note and their friends if it is not deleted may not have read all or any of what I have written about sex and Christianity and such subjects. Surely they will be aware that religion and sex make for intersting conflict and counterpoints. Ms. Foster’s sexuality and her religion have often beendiscussed and she and I have stood in different places in the cross-section of social mores ormoted in society. She is of course much more famous than I am likely to be. But hundreds of thousands at least have heard and read me as well. My many freiends in media will know of the strange shapes and geographies of fame. Yet I am not filled with animus toward Ms. Foster in her life’s journey.

I am thinking today of the story of the wheat and the tares or crops and weeds which was one of Jesus’s parables. There is no organization of much significance that is free of those who for varied reasons have infiltrated it with objectives different than those at the core of its founding. Not all such people are enemies to their new homes. But in many groups there are many like this. This is a time of year when I think of all the Christians who like me often fail to really be very good Christians but also I think of all those who really wish to pervert, subvert and corrupt the enterprise.I am aware how few people in schools see any history in the infancy narratives and the early deeds of the Gospels. But there is a great deal of evidence not faced by these educated idiots and their relentless self-fondling prose. Not every de-myhtologizer is such a person but the theology of so many Christians is so adversely affected by Bultmann’s German school of Higher Criticism. I do not know the heart of Benedict XVI but I do honor his struggle to at least understand the Gospel for what it is and says. As a German scholar of his era he had to struggle more than most. The canonical Gospels are far more of a simplification than a projected elaboration of the magnificent life of Jesus. So much theology of so many types is really a river of crap. But serious scholarship is well suited to the Gospel. I wish I were more of a fan of Benedict XVI ofr all those reasons but I won’t ever be a big fan. Not that he needs me to be…

Likewise, the Inauguration Day and the Superbowl will interext me but leave me a bit cold as well. There is too much that I cannot tend to with a fan’s attention in each event.

Yes, this is a time for me to feel a bit down and enjoy the sad company of rain and clouds. But I look out at the wide world as I feel glum and it races by. I am aware of my own situation and the larger one behind the painted wooden pony heads and calliope music. Perhaps there are others feeling that way just about now. We all have find a way through the winter and into the spring. Television seems more compelling when it is cold and the weather is unfriendly. We all note the calendar changing and we wonder what to watch on screen and outside the screens of our lives.

A video from my life and family