December 2, 2013

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 8, Issue 16 – December 2, 2013

 

 

It’s Now December…

…though the weather really hasn’t turned that cold, at least for us who grew up in places like Syracuse, NY, the snow capital of America.  The weather report for Syracuse today was for a high of 38° and light snow, which is pretty typical.  They’re due for a heat wave this next week, all the way up to the mid-40’s.  Don’t worry though, there’s still plenty of time left for several blizzards there.

Thanksgiving has now ended, though we’re still in the midst of Chanukkah—the fourth night as I’m typing this.  Since it was only the three of us at home, we went with the turkey breast instead of the full bird.  There were still plenty of leftovers—enough to last for longer than I really want them.

chanukkah

Mark’s Chanukkiyah

 On Thanksgiving evening, I succumbed to crass commercialism because Mark wanted to go to Wal-Mart (the one on Johnson Ferry) as they had several computer games that he wanted.  We got there at about 6:30 PM, and WOW!  What a crowd.  It seemed like half of Cobb County was there—the parking lot was full, with overflow in the YMCA and (former) Wendy’s lots as well.  They had some 32” HDTV on sale for $89 or something like that, and it seems like every one of the thousands of people there had one or two of them in their shopping carts, as well as a bunch of other stuff.  Against all the odds, Mark managed to find two video games that were on sale and it was then time to get into the mile-long checkout line.  We went to the self-service line which looked short, but were told it actually extended all the way to the back of the store.  Fortunately, there were two salespersons there who had no one with them, and one of them waved Mark to come up, so we got out really quickly.  The only Black Friday store I went to was Jos. A. Banks, since it was time to get a new suit and some shirts, and they were having a good sale.  The parking lot at The Avenue was packed, but once I found a space, things weren’t too bad.  It was busy at Banks, but they had plenty of merchandise and lots of staff there to help.  I even ran into Georgia Tech’s VP for Student Affairs, Bill Schafer, there.

This was the weekend for football upsets.  I don’t know that anything can top Georgia Southern’s 26-20 defeat of Florida last week, though the last second win by Auburn over Alabama has to come close.  Sorry Bill P.—you leave SPSU and look what happens!

In real sports, Chelsea is doing reasonably well.  Sunday brought a 3-1 win over Southampton.  This game featured a number of interesting moments, including a goal for Southampton 13 seconds (!) after the game began, which has to be a dubious record of some kind.  Chelsea’s Michael Essien made a terrible backpass to the goalie, and Southampton’s Jay Rodriguez made the most of it.  Yipes!  Fortunately, that’s all the scoring there was in the first half, and Chelsea came roaring back in the second, with goals by Gary Cahill, John Terry (this was his 400th game—a huge number in soccer), and Demba Ba.  Chelsea is now in second place in the Premiere League, with only Arsenal ahead of them.


Who is the Better Beheader?

The Chanukkah history I provided in last week’s BLAB resulted in a couple of interesting follow-ups.  I won’t mention any names, but someone cut and pasted what I wrote about it into his Facebook page without saying where he got it, which led to some snarky comments when some of my friends and family noticed it.

More interesting was some art commentary provided by Inez McDermott, an Art History professor at New England College.  In response to my including the painting by Caravaggio of Judith cutting off the head of Assyrian general Holofernes, Inez wrote on Facebook: “Oh Zvi, this Judith is so much better!” attaching a painting by Artemesia Gentilleschi that hangs in the Capodimonte Museum of Naples.  She went on to say:  “Caravaaggio’s Judith looks way too weak and grossed out.  Artemesia Gentilleschi’s is clearly capable of the dirty deed!”  You can decide for yourself–here’s the painting in question.

485px-Artemisia_Gentileschi_-_Judith_Beheading_Holofernes_-_WGA8563

Artemisia Gentilleschi’s painting of  “Judith Beheading Holofernes”

It’s true I didn’t include a copy of Gentilleschi’s painting in last week’s BLAB, but I did provide a link to it in a good review of paintings on the subject of Judith beheading Holofernes, which appeared here.  The review, ironically called “One Delightful Day” is by Tyson Vick and includes two versions of Gentilleschi’s paintings of the beheading.  It turns out that Artemesia Gentilleschi painted this subject several times, of which Inez chose the most gruesome.  Vick wrote: “Artemesia Gentileschi loved painting the Judith scene. Some people speculate that poor Artemesia was raped while young, and always depicted herself in the painting as Judith and her abuser as Holofernes.

I’m ashamed to admit I had never heard of Artemesia Gentilleschi before, but a quick trip to Wikipedia revealed that she was the most accomplished painter in the generation after Caravaggio and also the first female painter to become a member of the Accademia di Arte del Disegno in Florence.  Judith Beheading Holofernes is her most well-known work.  Wikipedia also gives a full account of Artemesia’s rape and the subsequent lawsuit against her rapist (highly unusual in 1611), in a story with so many twists it could be an opera itself.

In addition to the Handel and Mozart operas I mentioned last time, Vick wrote that Mozart also set an Oratorio to music on the subject, called “La Betulia Liberata” [Betulia was the town Judith lived in].  This is something else I was unaware of, but a quick check of my CD database showed that I have a copy—it’s on discs 112 and 113 of the Complete Mozart Edition, a massive CD set I recommend highly, which is available for a proverbial song on Amazon.  I’ll probably listen to it later tonight.

 

Bye-bye Sylvia

On Monday, I attended a good-bye party for Sylvia Carson, SPSU’s former Director of Public Relations.  Sylvia had worked at SPSU for several years, and I had worked with her on numerous articles for newspapers or for the alumni magazine about various academic affairs doings.  Sylvia had an active interest in what was happening academically at the university and would often attend Deans Council meetings to be up on the latest events.  She was always a pleasure to work with.  She’s now off to a new position at Georgia Tech, and I know you all join me in wishing her the very best.  We’ll miss you, Sylvia.

 

Happy Trails to You

So, other than shopping and soccer, what did I do over the holiday break?  Glad you asked.  I had recently bought a DVD set of 79 different Roy Rogers movies, so I set out to watch a bunch of them over the vacation.  For those who are surprised that Roy Rogers was in 79 movies, I’ll point out that he was actually in more than 100, most (if not all) of which are now in the public domain.  While the prints on this set are hardly pristine, the overall quality is quite good and very watchable.  He wasn’t called the “King of the Cowboys” for nothing.

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Roy Rogers and Trigger

Roy Rogers’ first lead role was in “Under Western Stars” in 1938, and his first movie with Dale Evans (the “Queen of the West”, who later became his wife, in 1947) was “The Cowboy and the Senorita” in 1944.  He made 6-10 movies a year, with his last being “Son of Paleface” (with Bob Hope and Jane Russell) in 1952.  All were westerns, and almost all were so-called “B” movies, meaning that they were made on a short budget, lasted 60-75 minutes, and were the second movie in double-features shown in the theaters.

The movies all follow the same general pattern:  there’s a bad guy (usually wearing a black hat and having a mustache) trying to cheat someone (usually a pretty girl) of their gold mine or ranch; Roy would show up and try to help; he’d often be framed, arrested, and have to escape from the sheriff, and the girl would start to like Roy, but then turn away due to the frame-up.  Along the way he would sing three or four songs.  The movie would end with the implication that Roy would wind up romancing the girl, but he never kissed her—that would have been too icky for the boys in the audience!  Most of the movies are set in a sort of nebulous time that has automobiles, but also lots of people riding horses.  After the movies, Roy went into television from 1951-1957, and I have many happy memories of seeing the Roy Rogers Show on TV every Saturday morning, always closing with the song “Happy Trails to You”, which was written by Dale Evans.  There were about 100 episodes of the TV show, which is high on my “I wish I had a nice copy” list.  I do have the complete run, but the picture quality is fairly low.

Roy was one of the good guys, in movies, TV, comic books, and in real life.  I have a DVD of his appearance on “This is Your Life” that aired in 1953.  On it, Ralph Edwards (the host) begins by introducing the Rev. Dr. Bill Alexander, a well-known minister from Oklahoma City.  Rev. Alexander was the minister who had married Roy Rogers to Dale Evans in 1947, and Roy had been told that the show was going to be about Rev. Alexander.  Instead, as you’ve probably guessed, it was about Roy Rogers.  The show was broadcast “live” in those days and you can see Roy’s true reaction to the events of his life being retold.  When Edwards told how Roy and his family travelled from Ohio to California in 1929, the curtains opened and his mother, father, and family were there, along with the decrepit car they traveled in.  Roy walked over to his mother, bent over, and gave her a very big kiss.  When he got up again, he was in tears.  Later in the episode, Roy’s several children are introduced and his horse, Trigger, appears as well.  The show ended with a child named Rusty Rogers (no relation) being introduced who had been crippled and was in a Seattle hospital, who was never supposed to be able to walk again.  His only wish was to talk to Roy Rogers.  Roy heard about this and called him several times, promising that if he was able to walk, he would bring him to Hollywood and let him ride Trigger.  As Ralph Edwards put it: “The doctors can’t explain it, but they bear witness to the facts.  Rusty Rogers did get well” and then out he came, jumping into Roy Rogers’ hands.   You can see the episode for yourself below.

Roy and Dale adopted several children and were strong advocates for adoption, sponsoring several children’s charities.  One of their children, Robin Elizabeth, had Down’s Syndrome and passed away before her second birthday.  Dale Evans wrote a book about her life, told in Robin’s voice looking down from heaven, called Angel Unaware.  The book became a best-seller, and led to changes in the way children with special needs were treated.  All profits went to charity.

Roy Rogers and Dale Evans remained married until his death in 1998 (she passed away in 2001).   He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame and the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.  He was the only person ever elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame twice—once as a member of the Sons of the Pioneers, and once as a solo singer.  Happy Trails to you, Roy.

 

Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last time’s trivia challenge focused on myths and legends, and there were lots of entries.  Our winner was Dan Ferreira, who was the first to get all five correct.  Others getting all five included Tom Nelson, Rich Halstead-Nussloch, Bill Diong, Gerald Pierce, Mark Vickrey, and Robin Daniel.  Here are the correct answers:

  1. Mythical king of England, headed the knights of the round table.  King Arthur.
  2. Sunlight or a stake through the heart can kill them.  Vampires.
  3. Scottish sea serpent.  Loch Ness Monster.
  4. Raised by a wolf, they went on to found the city of Rome.  Romulus and Remus.
  5. In legend, this country was formed when Izanagi and Izanami descended from heaven to a rainbow, and dipped a spear into the ocean.  Japan.

 

 

This Week’s Trivia Challenge

Today’s trivia challenge focuses on westerns.  No looking up the answers now!  SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO zszafran@spsu.edu, since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them!

  1. He rode a horse named Silver, and his gun fired silver bullets.
  2. One of the first singing cowboys, he rode a horse named Champion.  He later owned the California Angels.
  3. Lead character in Gunsmoke, he never married Miss Kitty.
  4. He first starred in The Rifleman, and later in Branded.
  5. Brett, Bart, and Brent.  Beau was their cousin.
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