Thursday, June 30, 2011

C–Control Anime

Found another thinking person’s anime that just wrapped up.  C – Control: The Money of Soul and Possibility is something I was going to avoid, but checked out on a whim. At first blush it appeared to be a Pokemon style fighting show, but turned out to be an exploration of economic and philosophical theories instead. Oh there are fights, called “deals,” in it but they aren’t always shown and aren’t the main focus. Instead, expect a lot of dialogue and character development combined with moral dilemmas.

The plot is about an impoverished and miserly college student in Japan who is sucked into participating in a parallel world called the Financial District. Fights are fought on a regular basis and the money from there can be used in the real world. It is a slow starting show but once he gets his “asset”, Mashu, things really pick up. I will note the show confused quite a few otaku’s online who managed to completely misinterpret the finale and what happened.

The fight moves being named after economic jargon has to be one of the most amusing things about the series. Not for kids at all, it is another TV-14 due to violence and one unnecessary bit of fan service in episode 8 that is censored. If this ever gets licensed in the U.S., I’ll be buying it and rare is the anime I’m willing to buy.

Check out  C-Control at

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Day in the Life

It looks like this post will be made up of bits and pieces of random thoughts, as I’m a bit fuzzy today.
Finally, a good night’s sleep indicates I’m finally getting over the respiratory infection. Still not recovered from it, but it is fading out and the coughing has subsided.

By making myself post regularly, it is helping with being able to write even when impaired by illness. So I’m pleased with the results of prioritizing writing and hope to get started on some fiction.

My sister, her husband and step kids are arriving tomorrow and the place is a wreck. The two weeks of being sicker than usual were supposed to be devoted to cleaning which isn’t going to happen. Irritating. And messy.

The weather is nice and I want to see if the new Hogue grips I put on my Ruger pistol will help with accuracy. It has helped other owners of the same model. But I’m way too shaky at the moment and need to use my energy for other tasks. If I don’t get the improvement I’m hoping for, I’ll probably have to do some trigger work to lighten the pull. While I love a military style pull on a rifle, it appears to give me problems on pistols.

Why does iTunes importing CD’s default to 128 bitrate AAC when their store doesn’t sell anything less than 256?  I’m glad I moved to Media Monkey Pro a long time ago. FLAC is the best way to go if you have decent speaker or headphones, but 256 AAC isn’t bad at all. I do most of my purchasing at Amazon MP3 these days and take advantage of the cloud storage.

Having become a fan of Jack Wall’s soundtracks for video games, I was happy to score the Jade Empire Soundtrack for $1 from a vendor on Amazon. I wish his soundtracks Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 had been put out on CD as well. But the CD is in trouble and digital delivery is the future.  And yes, I did buy them digitally and burned CD’s, but I’d like the higher quality.

I got a bicycle pump to modify for cleaning electronics. A spring around the hose base is needed to guarantee air flow and so far the basketball needle adapter has worked well. The setup will be a lot cheaper than buying duster cans.

Democrats arguing that having a debt ceiling violates the Constitution shows what amazing hypocrites they are. All of the talk coming out of them lately is how the Constitution isn’t really law, is out of date, and was only meant to be a rough guideline. Two faced doesn’t begin to describe them, especially since there was a default on federal bonds under Roosevelt in 1933. I have no faith in anyone dealing with the economic calamity that is upon us.

Was John Lennon a closet Republican?  Maybe, but I doubt Yoko was.

Mystery Science 3000 is an excellent medication when ill. Watched Werewolf and Laser Blast among other bad movies with Mike, Joel, and the Bots the last couple of weeks on Netflix streaming.  The new settings allowing lower quality streams has been very helpful on our measly 1 MB DSL.

Also saw John Wycliffe, the biography on John Wycliffe, the man who laid the foundation for the Protestant Reformation. Classic early 1980’s video quality but very good. Many Christians know who Martin Luther was, but how many know the man who first translated the Holy Bible into English in the late 1200’s?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Collateral Damage from the Cyberwars

Given how little people venture out from the big headlines in the news, I don’t know if most are aware of the increased “hacking” going on.  So far this week, I’ve had to change two passwords on accounts that were compromised or suspected of being compromised.  LulzSec were responsible for the data breach over at Bioware’s old Neverwinter Nights forums and that spilled over to some EA accounts, mine included. I was hoping EA was being overly paranoid when they reset my password, but another account just made me do the same thing.

That just shows how you can have problems even if you avoid the dark side of the Internet. If you ever have an account anywhere, it can be compromised due to no fault of your own. But you still have to be vigilant since the weakest points in computer security are the users themselves. Don’t even get me started about how easy it is to get infected on Facebook through third party apps.

Meanwhile, the shut-ins who make up groups like LulzSec and Anonymous have been on a tear this month, gleefully hacking databases and exposing information in them in the name of opposing censorship. Targets included credit card companies, law enforcement, gaming communities, and government agencies. For all their posturing about being liberal avengers fighting against fascist government, LulzSec have proven to be a bunch of immature script kiddies who don’t care if anyone is hurt. Exposing personal information of Arizona law enforcement agents is simply asking for drug gangs to kill those agents and their families.

They declared an end to their activities but word comes today of them merging with Anonymous and more cyber terror is to follow.  Especially since they have inspired others to become “hacktivists.” Their lack of understanding of the concepts of cause and effect is going to bite everyone on their rears, sadly.

Governments worldwide have proven to be not amused at these “funny” antics. I expect to see a tightening and increase in laws related to cybercrimes because of these actions. In other words, the exact opposite of what LulzSec’s purported goals were. More censorship, more government oversight of the Net, and easier access to data by law enforcement are sure to come.

Brilliant job there, hackers.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Home Is Where the Heart Is

One of the best things about the lay ministry that is at the heart of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is something that is called Home Teaching. For the worthy men in the Church holding the priesthood, it is their duty to look in on and minister to households they are assigned to. Since our bishops and branch presidents (akin to a minister or priest in other denominations) hold full time jobs and have families, there is a need to spread the weight of taking care of the flock.

While there are many different callings (unpaid jobs) in every congregation, Home Teaching is the one every priesthood holder must do. It is the one calling you never get released from. That alone shows how important it is. You have different families you are assigned to over the years, but you are never to stop carrying out your teaching.

I vividly remember the first Priesthood Sunday school meeting I went to while investigating the Church. Guess what the lesson was on?  You got it.  Right away I was excited because I knew that this was the way things should be. God wants his children to learn to love each other and there is no better way to learn than to do.

So what exactly is Home Teaching then?

By the book, it is a once a month visit to a household by two priesthood holding men in the Church to teach a short lesson about the Gospel. You have to get in the door for it to officially count. Now some will consider any kind of visit to count and it is up to the individual home teacher and the priesthood leadership to determine that. Me, I’m a stickler for getting in the door and it has everything to do with the real reasons we have Home Teaching.

What it is really about is looking out for the well being of those we visit. Not just the spiritual well being, but the emotional and economic as well. Latter-day Saints are often fiercely independent, which has a lot to do with the emphasis on self reliance taught in the Church. But that can be taken too far and people in need of help will either feel afraid or too proud to ask for help once in a crisis. Unlike a full time paid clergy, our leaders can’t visit everyone in a large congregation on a regular basis. Combine that with a natural human tendency by some to be afraid of anyone in authority and needs can be overlooked. That’s where our home teachers come in.

If they have built up a good relationship with the people they look after, the home teachers are able to see what things are most needed for those people. It also means being someone they can call in a crisis, someone to provide a shoulder to lean or cry on, and someone who will be their friend. In some cases, it also means being the only contact with the Church for those who have fallen away from attending or are unable to attend due to health.

In order to minister properly to others, you need to know the hearts of those you teach. It is said that “home is where the heart is” and in my experience visiting people in their homes brings a totally different spirit. There you see people as they really are and which enables you to talk freely in ways I sometimes think our culture has forgotten in the States. Personally, I love to visit the families I’ve been assigned to.

In the end, Home Teaching is about loving and serving others, giving of your time and energy to be there for them. In order to live a Christ-like life, we must follow in the footsteps of the Savior, no matter how large or small they appear to us. Home Teaching isn’t a sacrifice to me, for I get a lot back out of it too. In doing service for others, I find myself comforted by the Spirit and closer to Christ as I try to emulate his actions. I’ve also gotten to know a lot of wonderful people  this way that I wouldn’t have otherwise.

I think Paul summed up what I feel about Home Teaching when he wrote to the Corinthians:

What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel. For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. 1 Cor. 9:18-19

It has definitely made me a better man and hopefully a better priesthood holder.

Oh and lest I get in trouble with the sisters of the Church, I better point out that they have their own version called Visiting Teaching. In this case, they visit the women members. It isn’t surprising they are better at doing this than the brothers. I have no end to my admiration of Relief Society, which also happens to be the oldest women’s organization in the country.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Health 6-26-2011

Still sick with the upper respiratory infection. As a result, I had to skip out on weekly socializing last night and church today.  A trip out for groceries as a passenger turned into a very nasty test of will last afternoon.  Extreme dizziness and nausea made it a surreal experience – amazing what a sinus infection can do to the inner ear. If I’d tried to drive, I would have been in a ditch because it hit me as soon as the car started moving.

A rough night followed as I’m still a little dizzy from the local expedition. So far, so good on avoiding full blown bronchitis though the right bronchial is still being a bit congested. Since I’ve had it twice this year, I’d really like to avoid the hat trick. Upper respiratory infections are so common with CFS sufferers and I’m no exception to that.

Dad it determined that I eat at least 30g of protein for breakfast to assist in losing weight.  That’s a piece of advice he got somewhere and I’m having a hard time justifying the expense. Not to mention the stomach space, that’s a huge amount to consume in one sitting for me. Don’t know if it will be feasible at all to implement into my diet, which has been showing modest results from cutting even more simple carbs out.

Started taking 1000 units a day of vitamin D several weeks ago to boost the immune system, since it is the latest fad. Or repeat of one, as is more likely the case. While too early to tell the results (six weeks is my minimum on trying something), I’m not impressed so far.

I hope I improve quickly, the house needs cleaning this week and I’d like to get the guts of the media center PC transplanted into the newer case. Range time for shooting is desired, but that will have to wait until after the visit. Not that I could hit the broad side of a barn as dizzy as I am at the moment.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

When the Levy Breaks

Watching the Berlin Wall being attacked with sledgehammers as East and West Germany spontaneously reunited left an indelible impression on me in the early 1990’s. The following Russian revolution that took down the Soviet Union had memorable images as well, especially of Boris Yeltsin leading the rebellion. But the unexpected fall of the Soviet Union was a surprise to all and even today it is somewhat of a mystery of why it happened. Leon Aron has written an intriguing theory over at Foreign Policy.

In it, he puts forth the idea that it was a desire to morally reform the Soviet Union that led to its downfall. This is a fascinating idea given the events in Arab countries right now. Economics is usually cited as a causal factor in revolutions by our liberal media and intelligentsia, which reflects their Marx influenced thinking. But what if it is something else entirely?

Lately, I’ve come to the conclusion that governments and businesses are supported by faith in them, or confidence, rather than actual merit or results. As long as confidence remains in them, they stay afloat. But once that is lost, the beginning of the end is soon to be seen. Parliamentary systems of government illustrate this rather well, but it applies to all forms of government.

The money quote of the article:

"Dignity Before Bread!" was the slogan of the Tunisian revolution. The Tunisian economy had grown between 2 and 8 percent a year in the two decades preceding the revolt. With high oil prices, Libya on the brink of uprising also enjoyed an economic boom of sorts. Both are reminders that in the modern world, economic progress is not a substitute for the pride and self-respect of citizenship. Unless we remember this well, we will continue to be surprised -- by the "color revolutions" in the post-Soviet world, the Arab Spring, and, sooner or later, an inevitable democratic upheaval in China -- just as we were in Soviet Russia. "The Almighty provided us with such a powerful sense of dignity that we cannot tolerate the denial of our inalienable rights and freedoms, no matter what real or supposed benefits are provided by 'stable' authoritarian regimes," the president of Kyrgyzstan, Roza Otunbayeva, wrote this March. "It is the magic of people, young and old, men and women of different religions and political beliefs, who come together in city squares and announce that enough is enough."

I would submit that the United States is not immune to this. With the rise of the Tea Parties, a direct challenge to the current system is being made. A large number of people feel that the wheels are coming off of our society and that corruption feeds the growth of the government. Even discounting the vocal protesters, I’ve run into many of the apathetic middle who no longer trust the government to do anything right. This isn’t the “malaise” that Jimmy Carter spoke of around 35 years ago. Instead, it is a feeling of resigned resentment.

Technically, we have a system designed for easy change. Unfortunately, sprawling bureaucracy and Obama’s attempts at an imperial presidency have done too much damage to the system. The system of checks and balances between the branches of government have been compromised to the point of no return.

Nobody saw the fall of the Soviet Union coming until it happened. Are we ignoring the same signs in their infancy here? I wonder.

There is also the problem of revolutions rarely delivering on what was promised. They are glamorized by historians and the media, but tend to unleash the darkest aspects of the human soul with oppression and bloodletting being the end result. In Russia, Putin is poised to openly rule again as an elected dictator. Not exactly what was hoped for when the Soviet system was dismantled.

I can’t say if Aron is correct, but his ideas are very interesting to say the least. We need to be looking around and re-evaluating events like this to find lessons. While we always live in uncertain times, things seem to be more unstable than usual and I have the impression that the world is about to be plunged into great turmoil. Being a history buff, this is exciting but I can’t say I’m looking forward to it!

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Real Stealth Involves Politics with Japan’s ATD-X

Over at The Diplomat, David Axe has written an interesting article speculating on Japan’s stealth fighter project. Read the whole thing to get an idea of the aerial arms race going on in Asia – it is even bigger than the article makes out.  Even the smaller countries have been pouring money into advanced versions of older aircraft such as the F-15 Strike Eagle, F-16 two seat attack variants, and Su-30 multirole fighters.

But back to Japan’s stealth fighter. My belief is that it is a bargaining chip with the bonus of getting some good experience with cutting edge designs and materials. The F-2 was a fiasco of epic proportions and they just lost 18 of them to the tsunami earlier this year. It will be about $73 million to repair each one if they make that decision. You can buy a better brand new plane for that! So I really don’t see Japan building a new fighter on their own unless forced to by circumstances.

The F-35 Lightning II is the best fit for their multirole needs even if it will be produced later than they want. Frankly, I’m surprised they didn’t go with an advanced F-15 Strike Eagle variant like South Korea and Singapore did. After all, Japan already flies their own variant of the Eagle, the F-15J Kai, for air superiority.

With all their economic problems, I think the ATD-X really is a stealthy bargaining chip to get better terms on F-35 production. Its size limitations render it useless for combat but it sure looks pretty and evokes national pride. The F-35 will be a match for the J-20 at worst and most likely superior to the Chinese fighter. Looks and aerodynamics tell only a part of the story on a modern warplane. Instead, the avionics, radar, and weapon systems fill most of the narrative – and cost.  There is where the Lightning II is going to be revolutionary. Once people see how the incredibly integrated sensors on the plane function in the real world, I predict they will be very surprised.

Meanwhile, it amuses me so many people quote Carlo Kopp. That just proves you don’t need to know anything to be considered an expert. Calling Australian Air Power a think tank is very generous indeed.

Health 6-24-2011

Time to stop complaining about writing these journal entries on health and just do them. While I’d toyed with the idea of a separate blog just for them, I’ve had enough trouble maintaining one blog as it is.

Yesterday whatever bug I have got worse and made straight for the chest. It has gotten to be an old pattern and one I’m well sick of. Figuratively speaking, though literally works of course.

Last night was a difficult one with coughing enhancing the experience delightfully. Sarcasm alert.

This morning, I can breathe a little easier and the small amount of wheezing seems to be gone. As usual, the right bronchial is the main culprit. It always goes bad first and if I can head things off by doing essentially nothing it can be contained there. So far, so good.

Looks like a sunny day out; wish I could enjoy it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

CITIZEN KANE (1941) Review

Lauded by some as the greatest movie ever made, this exuberant hit piece against one of America’s wealthiest men is a true classic. But it ended up destroying the meteoric career of the young prodigy who made it, Orson Welles, and revealed more about its creator than the target. This made the film a tragedy in ways far beyond what Welles intended.

Citizen Kane Main TitleCitizen Kane Mercury

The attitude of the production is set right at the beginning of the film as the stark open face type appears silently in brilliant white against a solid black background. In a darkened movie theater, the effect must have been very dramatic. I could have typed “tone of the production,” but attitude is the correct word -- for the le’infant terrible known as Orson Welles was all attitude at all times. Not quite shock effect, but a clear and loud demand for attention is made by this opening title. Which turns out to fit the story of Charles Foster Kane very well as the story unwinds.

Citizen Kane No TrespassingCitizen Kane Intro

The atmosphere becomes film noir, if not that of a horror film in the first scenes shown of a decaying palatial estate shrouded in fog. With Bernard Herrmann providing the score, a feeling of unease is generated. Having always heard of the greatness of the movie, I can remember wondering just what I’d gotten myself into the first time I watched it. This was not the kind of beginning I was expecting. “What is this, a Universal Pictures horror film?” I mused.

Then the most famous single word line in movie history is uttered and it happens to be the first word in the movie.

Citizen Kane Rosebud

Citizen Kane Snowglobe

Fortunate of me to have forgotten to turn off the captioning, eh? With that softly spoken word, the man who utters it dies and drops a snow globe he had been clutching. As it rolls and shatters on the floor, the mystery that drives the story begins.

Citizen Kane NewsreelCitizen Kane Old

Citizen Kane HitlerCitizen Kane Scandal Headline

A newsreel covers the death of Charles Foster Kane and provides the broad strokes of the life of one of the most wealthy men in America, from his humble youth to uncountable riches and fame to finally dying a recluse. It is his failure in politics that catches the eye the most, especially his declaration that there “will be no war in Europe.” In itself, this is an impressive sequence that speedily tells us about the main character.  Despite that, Kane is hard to peg down, being a man called a communist by business and a fascist by labor.  There remains a sense of mystery about him. The date is 1941.

The newsreel ends and we are introduced to the reporter who will be our proxy in investigating the mysterious tycoon. Jerry Thompson will be our eyes and ears trying to find out who this mysterious “Rosebud” is. It is his interviews with associates of Kane that form the narrative of the movie in what can be a dizzying shift of times and settings. It is all executed with great gusto and is never confusing, which is no small trick.

Citizen Kane William Alland

That’s William Alland playing Thompson on the right.  Interesting how he doesn’t get his face shown in the credits like the rest of the cast. But if he is our stand in, it makes sense. But it is more likely he was more comfortable behind the scenes since he became a producer of famous and not so famous B-movies of the 1950’s including The Creature from the Black Lagoon.

Citizen Kane Thatcher ArchiveCitizen Kane Vault

After the first failure to interview Kane’s second wife, a drunken singer in a nightclub, Thompson finds his way to the memorial archives of Walter Parks Thatcher. The “bookends” set in the present time are good, snarky fun with the archives looking like something out of a German silent film as the beleaguered reporter deals with the woman in charge. Allowed to read one section of Thatcher’s memoirs under a strict time limit in the vast and lonely room, Thompson gets a glimpse into the young Charles Foster Kane from 1871.

Citizen Kane SleddingCitizen Kane Mother Signs

What we get to see is an overly energetic boy who comes off as something of a brat despite his poverty. Thatcher is the banker who comes to take the boy away as his mother Mary Kane has come into unexpected wealth. Determined that Charles have a completely different life, she signs him over to go live in Colorado. Not having been warned about this, the boy does not take it well.

Citizen Kane Angry BoyCitizen Kane Lost Childhood

So begins his resentment against the banker put in charge of his life. It is something that will motivate him for years to come.

Citizen Kane Agnes Moorehead

Mary Kane’s actress, Agnes Moorehead, is best known for being the scheming mother-in-law in the Bewitched television series, but like most of the cast made her film debut in Citizen Kane. She was a much better actress on the silver screen than the idiot box.

Citizen Kane George Coulouris

As the stuffy and disciplined Thatcher, English actor George Coulouris made an indelible impression that launched a long career as a character actor. His often exasperated performance made for an excellent foil against the resentful Welles.

Next person for Thompson to visit is Mr. Bernstein who still manages the newspaper syndicate Kane built up. There we insight into the young man who was Charles Foster Kane since Bernstein was there from the beginning.

Citizen Kane Mistaken IdentityCitizen Kane Gaslight Bullpen

When Kane comes into his inheritance he has no interest in being the dutiful head of a corporation. Instead, he wants to play with a small newspaper, The New York Enquirer. Why? Because it would be “fun.” That care free attitude makes the scenes of taking over the staid little paper great fun. There is a gleefully manic energy that suffuses every moment, making them sparkle.

Citizen Kane Declaration of Principles

Citizen Kane Trophy Cup

Lest you think there isn’t any drama, it is also here that Kane establishes himself as the protector of the little guy against big business. But it also shows his growing narcissism and willingness to say or do anything to accomplish his goals. Not to mention his great ambition and even greater appetite for excesses.

Citizen Kane Dancing GirlsCitizen Kane Dances

A scene with dancing girls at a celebratory party for the newspaper’s success is a good illustration of Kane’s narcissism. It is ridiculously over the top with a song sung about him (that becomes a musical motif for the rest of the film), but that isn’t enough attention for the man.  No, he has to dance with the girls and become the literal center of attention.

The charisma, hucksterism, and theatrical flair make him compelling fun for his employees and us, the audience, to follow. I can’t imagine another actor being able to pull this off the way Orson Welles did.  Hard to believe that he was only 24 when he made this movie.

The interview with Mr. Bernstein concludes with Kane marrying his first wife, the niece of the President of the United States. Who was Rosebud?  Bernstein doesn’t know, but he does offer an interesting theory.

Citizen Kane Everett Sloane

Everett Sloane’s performance as Mr. Bernstein is a delight in every scene he is in. A warm sense of humanity pervades him and I couldn’t help liking the man. Sloane went on to some success in television but tragically committed suicide in 1965.

Citizen Kane Erskine Sanford

Another member of the Mercury Theater troop was Erskine Sanford. His part as editor in chief Carter is brief and purely comedic. But like every actor in this film, he gets his moments.

The next stop on Thompson’s quest for Rosebud is at a nursing home where Kane’s former best friend, Jedediah Leland resides. Age hasn’t been kind to the man who was once closest to Kane and there is much bitterness as well. Perhaps he holds the key to the mystery?

Citizen Kane NewlywedCitizen Kane First Wife

From Leland, we find out about the darker side of Kane… and perhaps what motivates him as well. After the whirlwind romance and marriage to Emily Monroe Norton, the two lovebirds slowly drift apart in an inventively staged sequence showing their breakfasts together over the years. Deftly done with attention to wardrobe and makeup conveying the passing of the years, it gives a real sense of slow building alienation between two people. Pay attention to the newspapers they are reading at the end.

While his marriage is deteriorating, Kane’s political ambitions are growing. Not content, no… never content with the amount of attention he is getting, the wealthy man desires office and believes that he will be President one day. But like far too many powerful men, he falls prey to a weakness in the form of a younger woman.

Citizen Kane Meets SusanCitizen Kane Young Susan

Enter Susan Alexander, or Susie, as Leland calls her. A chance meeting on the street introduces the powerful man to a pretty young thing suffering from a toothache. What follows would be charming and sweet except for the infidelity involved and something more disturbing.  Watch how Susan flirts with Kane, playing him perfectly despite her pain.  She is cold, calculating, and seductive right off the bat. There may not be much going on upstairs, but Susie knows what she is doing.

Citizen Kane RallyCitizen Kane Campaigns

In his quest for power, Kane decides it is time to run for governor of the state of New York. He’s the “fighting liberal” out to take down “Boss” Jim Gettys so the poor will be protected. So confident is Kane that he promises his first act will be to prosecute Gettys for corruption.

Problem is that someone has informed Emily about Susan.  Confrontation follows in Susie’s apartment and here Kane’s arrogance manifests to the point of madness. Offered a way out where only he will be hurt and others protected, Kane refuses to give in because he simply won’t do what someone else tells him to do.

And with that, we see what a selfish monster Charles Foster Kane truly is.

Citizen Kane Susan's Fear

Citizen Kane Review

Though we open the movie with Kane’s death, there is an air of creeping dread about what follows after this reveal. The luster is gone, the charm is gone, and so is any likeability. So it is no surprise that Leland’s friendship becomes a casualty of Kane’s infidelity, though the final stake is driven through it by an opera review. That scene alone is worth the ticket price… err, rental fee.

Citizen Kane Joseph Cotten

The first movie role for Joseph Cotton was a meaty one as Jed Leland. He would later go on to other acclaimed roles but is best remembered for this and his starring turn in The Third Man (which also had Welles in it.) Jed is charming and is Kane’s failed conscience. You get the feeling he hits on the nurses despite his age.

Citizen Kane Ruth Warrick

Playing Kane’s first wife, Emily Monroe Norton was Ruth Warrick. She is best remembered for her much later television soap opera starring roles. With a regal presence, she is very believable as a President’s niece. Or what you would like a President’s niece to be like!

Citizen Kane Ray Collins

Though only briefly in the movie as Jim Gettys, Ray Collins was another rookie who ended up with a long career in movies and television. Though a tiny role compared to others, he delivers one of the most prophetic lines of the film.

Now comes the final act in this American tragedy and for that Thompson goes back to Susan Alexander who finally grants him an interview. The sad and apparently alcoholic singer lets him know that she never wanted to be a singer. It was Charlie who wanted it. As the flashback unfolds, we get to see how terrified the untalented girl was before going on stage. But the real story is played out in the reactions of two people in the audience.

Citizen Kane Watches SusanCitizen Kane Leland the Drama Critic

The reactions are by Charles Foster Kane and Jed Leland.  Obsessive and utterly dedicated to watching Susan, Kane goes from a smile on his face to a much more interesting expression as the show goes on. On the other hand, Jed starts out plastered and bored. He stays that way until the curtain falls.


Welles is riveting in this scene and this animated GIF of his forceful applauding captures it well.  It is no surprise that it spread across the Internet and full credit goes to the anonymous creator. Used to getting his way, Kane acts as if he can applaud Susan to stardom. His indomitable will forces her to keep performing even as her misery increases. Never one to listen, it takes extreme measures by his wife to change his mind.

 Citizen Kane ThroneCitizen Kane Susan and Puzzle

After that, Kane retreats to his vast castle that he has built in Florida. Named Xanadu after Kubla Khan’s city, it is an opulent and never finished hermit’s cave. Oh there are guests, but it is clear he has retreated from the world and has no wish to re-engage with it. Every scene there is filled with emptiness and echoes, like a mausoleum for someone who hasn’t quite managed to die yet. Young and still vibrant, Susan is miserable there and spends her time putting together jigsaw puzzles. Many jigsaw puzzles.

Citizen Kane RampageCitizen Kane and Snowglobe

It is clear things can’t last and after a disastrous “picnic,” Susan leaves the aged tycoon. He doesn’t take it well to say the least, after all it is about how he will look after this gets out.  Enraged, Kane destroys her bedroom only stopping when he picks up a snow globe. Yes, that snow globe.

At this point, Thompson realizes that he is starting to feel sorry for Mr. Kane. I’m not sure I do.

Citizen Kane Dorothy Comingore

Turning in a star making performance as Susan Alexander, one would have thought that Dorothy Comingore would have had as bright a career as the rest of the cast ahead of her. But the former Hollywood bit part actress passed up too many roles and then found herself blacklisted as a communist in 1951. Like Susan, she ended up an alcoholic and died at the age of 58.

Citizen Kane ReflectionsCitizen Kane Loot

With no one left to interview, Thompson arrives at Xanadu where all the treasures collected by Kane are being organized and prepared to be sold off. The oily valet, Raymond, is the last hope the reporter has to find out who or what Rosebud was to the deceased tycoon. All the man can give is a small hint, for he does not know either. Now joined by other reporters, Thompson wanders through the wealth and ponders that all he got were pieces to a puzzle.  Frustrated, he leaves and we, the audience, are the only ones who get the answer.

Citizen Kane Paul Stewart

Another small but memorable part was that of Raymond, played by Paul Stewart. He was a man you could distrust on sight, which made for a good career on screen and television before adding directing to his resume.

Citizen Kane End

Bet you thought I was going to give the big reveal away, didn’t you?


What a film! Once again I have to state my amazement that a 24 year old made this movie and also turned in one of the greatest acting performances of all time. Not once do you doubt Kane’s age no matter what part of his life is being portrayed. The rest of the cast are exceptional for Welles was an actor’s director, to be sure. Overlapping dialogue and extremely creative lighting are some of the little things that make this movie sensational in the true sense of the word. The whole production is a tour de force with innovative editing, camera angles, makeup, and even special effects.

Yet it is the story that makes this film so brilliant.  The structure is very clever, with the interweaving accounts over different era’s in the main character’s life. In of itself, the story is a compelling one and audaciously told.

But when you understand that it is an attack on William Randolph Hearst and his mistress, Marion Davies, all while that powerful man was still living it becomes more than audacious. My DVD is the two disc special edition of Citizen Kane and the second disc explains the real story behind the scenes. The American Experience episode, The Battle Over Citizen Kane, lays things out very accurately and is a must see.

With Welles versus Hearst, we finally get the answer to the age old question of what would happen when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. That answer is ruination for both. Hearst had his pride and reputation damaged while Welles became a has been overnight. But like all clashes, it is usually someone else who gets injured and the actress Marion Davies was very unfairly maligned by the character of Susan Alexander. While she was raised to be a gold digger, she was intelligent, witty, warm, and ended up falling in love with Hearst despite herself.

Not that I’m out to defend Davies as a moral paragon – she clearly wasn’t, being a kept mistress and promiscuous to boot. But she wasn’t the shrill, whining child shown in the movie. It was probably that depiction that set William Randolph Hearst off and motivated him to destroy Welles. In fact, he nearly succeeded in having the film copies physically destroyed!

While Citizen Kane is considered a classic, it was a complete bomb in 1941. While it managed to get just one Oscar for Best Screenplay out of nine nominations, it actually lost money at the box office. It is no wonder RKO Pictures shelved it after its initial run. Fortunately, it saw a revival in the 1950’s and has risen in regard ever since.

However, there was one thing that struck me as I watched the movie again. It is eerie how much Kane’s life ended up predicting Orson Welles’ life later on. Somewhere in the making of the film, Kane stopped being Hearst and became Welles’ from the future. Charismatic, a hustler, a user of others, never happy unless in the spotlight, and ultimately alone in the end… These were shared characteristics of Kane and Welles.

That’s what really makes this movie a tragedy.

Is it the greatest movie ever made? Not in my opinion. It is brilliant and well done, but there are multiple movies I’d put above it. But I’ll never fault someone for saying it is, for it is a great movie indeed.

Also, keep an eye open for the use of reflections in multiple scenes. It makes me wonder if Welles was just enamored of how they looked or intended some hidden meaning.

Citizen Kane is not for children due to it being immensely boring to them. Intellectual teens and up will appreciate it, but don’t expect any heroes in the story. If you are an adult who likes older movies this is a must see.


This DVD was mastered from an amalgam of the best existing prints that could be found since the negatives were destroyed. As a result, some scenes seem sharper than others, though “beauty” filters are employed in some close ups. Visible hairs will annoy you once you see them and I can’t understand why they didn’t digitally erase them.

Sound is nice and clear, which is needed with the overlapping dialogues and Bernard Herrmann’s excellent score.

In September, a new Blu-ray edition is coming out and I hope they restore some of the visuals better for that.