Sixty-five years ago, today, the war film To Hell and Back was released, originally in San Antonio. Directed by Jesse Hibbs and based on the book of the same name, it starred Audie Murphy, Marshall Thompson, Charles Drake, Jack Kelly, Gregg Palmer, Paul Picerni, David Janssen, Denver Pyle, Brett Halsey (Admiral’s great-nephew) and Gordon Gebert as a young Audie.
Biopic of the wartime exploits of Audie Murphy (played by himself), the most decorated US soldier in World War II. Starting with his boyhood in Texas, where he became the head of his family at a young age, the story follows his enrollment in [the] Army where he was assigned to the 3rd Division. He fought in North Africa, Sicily and Italy, before landing in southern France and, eventually, fighting in Germany. A Medal of Honor recipient, he also received battle honors from the French and Belgian government.
The highly variable Audie Murphy delivers his best screen performance as “himself” in Universal‘s To Hell and Back. Based on the star’s autobiography, this is the story of how Murphy became America’s most-decorated soldier during WW II. After dwelling a bit on Murphy’s hard-scrabble Texas upbringing, the story moves ahead to 1942, when, as a teenager, Audie joined the army. Within a year, he was a member of the 7th Army, serving in North Africa, Italy, France and, ultimately, Germany and Austria. One by one, the members of Murphy’s Company B are killed in the war, until only three men from the original company are left. [The] others appear at the finale as ghostly images […]. The bulk of the film is given over to Murphy’s conspicuous acts of combat bravery and his killing of 240 enemy soldiers. Highlighted by excellent battle sequences, To Hell and Back is a serviceable tribute to a most complex individual.
♦ Filmed at Fort Lewis, WA, Yakima River, WA, Oak Creek Wildlife Area, WA and Universal Studios.
♦ Audie Murphy originally declined the opportunity to portray himself in the movie, not wanting people to think that he was attempting to cash in on his role as a war hero. Murphy initially suggested his friend Tony Curtis to play him.
♦ Audie Murphy’s war buddy Onclo Airheart was slated to play himself, but he declined due to the fact that the movie was to be shot during planting season.
♦ [Author] David Morell [sic] cites Audie Murphy as the inspiration for the character of John Rambo.
♦ In the movie, […] Murphy does his one-man standoff on top of a medium M-4 Sherman tank. [In] real life it happened on top of an M10 Wolverine tank destroyer.
♦ Audie Murphy’s feats of heroism and his much decorated status have been compared to those of his counterpart during World War I, Sgt. Alvin C. York […].
Murphy […] wrote poetry and songs, and, himself a sufferer, was among the first advocates for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. He died on May 28, 1971, when the private airplane in which he was riding crashed.
“If you don’t stop, you will go blind…”
Rolling down the Samsung playlist for a Sunday evening submission, we come to Adam Ant or, Stuart Leslie Goddard and Desperate But Not Serious. The fourth track from the album Friend or Foe, it was co-written by Goddard and Marco Pirroni and, released November 19, 1982, the third single from his solo debut. This is the album that brought us Goody Two Shoes that went to number #1 in Australia and the UK. Desperate didn’t fare as well peaking at #33 in the UK and #66 on Billboard’s Hot 100.
I bought the album as a cassette and nearly wore it out. This is what I term as eclectic music. It’s different, it’s catchy, Goddard has a crazy voice that he plays to the hilt and the writing is very coy and, tongue-in-cheek. He will be at The Paramount Theatre in Austin, Texas, April 28, 2021. I’ve been to that venue many times. I would love to see him there.
I hope you enjoy
I’m still digging around in the old stuff. I found this piece and thought it interesting.
Messe de Nostre Dame (Mass of Our Lady) is a polyphonic mass composed before 1365 by French poet and composer Guillaume de Machaut […]. Widely regarded as one of the masterpieces of medieval music, and of all religious music, it is historically notable as the earliest complete setting of the Ordinary of the Mass attributable to a single composer […].
The Messe de Nostre Dame consists of 5 movements: the Kyrie (Eleison…”Lord, have mercy”), Gloria (in Excelsis Deo…”Glory to God in the highest”), Credo (Nicene Creed), Sanctus (“Holy”) and Agnus Dei (“Lamb of God”), followed by the dismissal Ite, missa est (Mass Response: Deo Gratias or “Thanks be to God”). The tenor of the Kyrie is based on Vatican Kyrie IV, the Sanctus and Agnus correspond to Vatican Mass XVII and the Ite is on Sanctus VIII. The Gloria and Credo have no apparent chant basis, although they are stylistically related to one another. Machaut’s Messe de Nostre Dame is for four voices rather than the more common three. Machaut added a contratenor voice that moved in the same low range as the tenor, sometimes replacing it as the lowest voice.
The information is rather wonky and, not only have I never studied music theory, my education on Catholic Mass is limited to a short stint as a member in an Anglican church in Austin, TX, a decade ago. That being said, what I find fascinating about this composition is that Machaut combined each part into an artistic whole, the earliest known example of it unified. Previously, the items were performed non-consecutively and, separated by prayers and chants.
[Instrumental Version of The Kyrie by Guillaume de Machaut]
[Modern Take on Kyrie by Patrick Lenk]
And, just because I could, I’m ending with Mr. Mister.
I realize that September 11 is usually reserved for the remembrance of 9/11 but, that seems to be all over the news as it is. There are other things that have happened on September 11. ~Vic
From the National Weather Service:
Carla was the most intense hurricane to make landfall on the Texas coast in the 20th century and second in recorded history only to the Indianola hurricane of 1886. Carla was the last of 6 hurricanes to make landfall on the Texas coast as a Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale, with sustained winds stronger than 130 mph, in the 20th century. Carla ranks as the 9th most intense hurricane to affect the United States since 1851.
Carla made landfall on the afternoon of the 11th on the northeast part of Matagorda Island as a strong Category 4 hurricane […]. The eye of Carla moved across Port O’Connor and Port Lavaca and, then, inland just east of Victoria. Carla weakened to a tropical storm on the morning of the 12th just east of Austin.
Carla was an extremely large hurricane with devastating effects from the winds and storm surge […]. The extreme tides inundated downtown Port Lavaca with 2 feet of flood water and displaced fishing boats and tug boats on Highway 35. With the slow movement of Carla, the hurricane pushed a storm surge of 22 feet above mean sea level at the head of Lavaca Bay in Port Lavaca. This is the highest storm surge in Texas hurricane history.
[Little-known] newsman Dan Rather reported live from the second floor of a building in Texas City during the storm, an act that would be imitated by later reporters. This marked the first live television broadcast of a hurricane. Rather also alerted the public of the size of Carla in a way that “literally changed the way the world sees hurricanes”, according to a fellow reporter. Broadcasting live at the Weather Bureau Office in Galveston, Rather asked a meteorologist to draw an outline of the Gulf of Mexico on a transparent sheet of plastic. He then held the map over the black and white radar screen, which put the size of Carla into perspective, saying that Carla was the size of the Gulf of Mexico. CBS was so impressed with Rather’s work that he was offered the position of correspondent.
Carla remains number one on the Hurricane Severity Index.
Going back fifteen years, this is a shot of Buddy, interrupting an exercise routine. This was during my Texas years. He was such a sweet baby and I still miss him. ~Vic
Nature’s wonderful creatures with many legs or, none at all. All photos are my personal collection. ~Vic
More to come…
I love watching and listening to the birds. They are fun and fascinating. A few evenings ago, I was sitting in one of my Adirondack chairs I have in my yard. They are underneath a very large Hackberry tree. This tree is huge and old. As I was enjoying the sunset and journaling, I heard tapping…above my head. Then, I noticed dust-like material gathering in my lap, my pages and on my phone (and, no doubt, on my head). I looked directly above me, which was not an easy task in a high-back chair. Yes. It was a small woodpecker. This little thing had the entire tree to beat its beak into but, decided to do its routine…directly above me. I struggled to get shots but, I got a few. That will be for another post in the future.
This is for the birds! I will have more next Friday or Saturday.
It was the only indigenous parrot to the Mid-Atlantic, Southeast & Midwest states. They ranged from southern New York, to the southern tip of Wisconsin, to Eastern Colorado, down to Central & Eastern Texas, across the Gulf of Mexico to the seaboard and all parts in-between. Also called a Carolina Conure (conuropsis carolinensis), they had a bright yellow head with a reddish-orange face and a pale beak.
[…] lived in old forests along rivers. It is the only species classified in the genus Conuropsis. It was called puzzi la née (“head of yellow”) or pot pot chee by the Seminole and, kelinky in Chickasaw.
The last known wild specimen was killed in Okeechobee County, Florida, in 1904, and the last captive bird died at the Cincinnati Zoo on February 21, 1918. This was the male specimen, called “Incas”, who died within a year of his mate, “Lady Jane”. Coincidentally, Incas died in the same aviary cage in which the last Passenger Pigeon, “Martha“, had died nearly four years earlier. It was not until 1939, however, that it was determined that the Carolina Parakeet had become extinct. Some theorists at this time, though, believed a few may have been smuggled out of the country in mid 20th century and may have repopulated elsewhere, although the odds of this are extremely low. Additional reports of the bird were made in Okeechobee County, Florida, until the late 1920s, but these are not supported by specimens.
The Carolina Parakeet is believed to have died out because of a number of different threats. To make space for more agricultural land, large areas of forest were cut down, taking away its habitat. The bird’s colorful feathers (green body, yellow head and red around the bill) were in demand as decorations in ladies’ hats. The birds were also kept as pets and could be bred easily in captivity. However, little was done by owners to increase the population of tamed birds. Finally, they were killed in large numbers because farmers considered them a pest, although many farmers valued them for controlling invasive cockleburs. It has also been hypothesized that the introduced honeybee helped contribute to its extinction by taking many of the bird’s nesting sites.
A factor that contributed to their extinction was the unfortunate flocking behavior that led them to return immediately to a location where some of the birds had just been killed. This led to even more being shot by hunters as they gathered about the wounded and dead members of the flock.
This combination of factors extirpated the species from most of its range until the early years of the 20th century. However, the last populations were not much hunted for food or feathers, nor did the farmers in rural Florida consider them a pest, as the benefit of the birds’ love of cockleburs clearly outweighed the minor damage they did to the small-scale garden plots. The final extinction of the species is somewhat of a mystery but, the most likely cause seems to be that the birds succumbed to poultry disease, as suggested by the rapid disappearance of the last, small but, apparently healthy and reproducing flocks of these highly social birds. If this is true, the very fact that the Carolina Parakeet was finally tolerated to roam in the vicinity of human settlements proved its undoing. The fact remains, however, that persecution significantly reduced the bird’s population over many decades.
From Birds of North America:
A consumer of sandspurs, cockleburs, thistles, pine seeds and bald cypress balls, as well as fruits, buds and seeds of many other plant species, the Carolina Parakeet was evidently a fairly typical psittacid with catholic feeding habits, loud vocalizations and highly social tendencies. However, unlike many other parrots, it was clearly a species well adapted to survive cold winter weather. Although generally regarded with favor by early settlers, the parakeet was also known locally as a pest species in orchards and fields of grain and, was persecuted to some extent for crop depredations. Its vulnerability to shooting was universally acknowledged and was due to a strong tendency for flocks not to flee under fire but, to remain near wounded con-specifics that were calling in distress.
[…] there are no known ways to evaluate many issues in Carolina Parakeet biology except through extrapolations from the biology of closely related species and through reasoned interpretations of the fragmentary writings of observers who have long since passed from the scene. Fortunately, early naturalists prepared a few accounts with substantial amounts of useful information.
From All About Birds:
Outside of the breeding season the parakeet formed large, noisy flocks that fed on cultivated fruit, tore apart apples to get at the seeds and, ate corn and other grain crops. It was therefore considered a serious agricultural pest and was slaughtered in huge numbers by wrathful farmers. This killing, combined with forest destruction throughout the bird’s range and, hunting for its bright feathers to be used in the millinery trade, caused the Carolina Parakeet to begin declining in the 1800s. The bird was rarely reported outside Florida after 1860 and was considered extinct by the 1920s.
I had no idea that my area of the U.S. had a native parrot species. It is a crying shame that this beautiful, lively bird was driven to extinction. They were easily tamed and had long life spans. Perhaps, there are some still in existence and carefully hidden. ~Vic
The above picture (on a phone) or the picture to the left (on a PC) is from the Texas Lone Star Wind Farm just outside of Abilene (northeast) and Clyde (northwest). On one of my visits to his ranch in Clyde, he took me out to this wind farm installation. Those wind turbines make the weirdest noises.
I wish I had remembered MY camera.
Round Three below.
In my previous post from November 24, I spoke of my former supervisor, W. H. Patton, whom I worked for, and with, from September of 2002 until he retired in May of 2007. This is Part Two of a five-part series. Below are more of his photography works.
I lived and worked in Texas for nearly a decade. I was fortunate enough to snag a Texas State job for the majority of the time I was there. The gentleman that interviewed and hired me was, as it turns out, my immediate Supervisor. He was one of the best bosses I ever had (his replacement after retirement was just as terrific). He did his job and he let me do mine. We sometimes rode the bus together, to and from work (downtown Austin).
I grew to love this man. He was a lanky 6′ 6″ and spoke fluent Spanish with a Texan accent. He had to have heart valve surgery a decade before I met him and, when you got close to him, he ticked like a clock. He owned a ranch just outside of Abilene in a small town called Clyde. He was a cattleman, a businessman, a photographer, a writer, an artist, a musician, a pilot, interviewed two U.S. Presidents and, was good friends with Mac Davis, Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton. He graduated Texas Tech with a Journalism degree, loved the Red Raiders and served in the U.S. Army Reserves:
“I protected Fort Leonard Wood, MO, from all enemies, foreign and domestic, during the Cuban missile crisis” ~ W. H. Patton
He lived all over the U.S. and Mexico. He moved to the Austin area in 1997 and I met him in 2002. He always had a story to tell and had a wicked sense of humor. He was one hell of a cook and drank like a fish. I am thankful that I met him and am a better person for it. He passed away in 2012, five days after his 73rd birthday. I’d like to share some of his work, as he shared it with me.