20 September 2007

Wandering Minds Want to Go

Hello All. Just a bit of fair explanation, you are not expected to read the whole of what is on this page. I just thought it might be fun to show you how one of the articles I write comes into being, and some of the fascinating places on the web that I found for the information necessary to do it. All of the indented, colored portions are excerpts found that normally would have been used in conjunction with material from the bookcases. Credits for where the original source material was found are given.

First, the history part. At This Day In History there were all sorts of possibilities for today, but the one that started a bee in the bonnet was the assassination of Garfield by Charles Guitteau. Now we have all heard of Booth or Oswald, but "Guiteau"... hmmmmmmmmmmmm, as Sherlock would say, "The game is afoot". I'm fascinated about what frustrations with political power would lead to this most horrendous of acts by someone who hardly even gets a paragraph in most history textbooks.

In 1881 just four months into his term, on July 2, Garfield was shot by a crazed assassin named Charles Guiteau. Guiteau claimed to have killed Garfield because he refused to grant Guiteau a political appointment. Garfield sustained wounds to his back and abdomen and struggled to recover throughout the summer. Though it appeared he would pull through in early September, the autopsy report revealed that the internal bullet wound contributed to an aneurism that ultimately killed Garfield on September 19.
Now where had I heard the name "Guiteau" - Why Stephen Sondheim of course - Huh? I have the soundtrack of "Assassins" because I love Sondheim. Even though it won a Tony in 2004 for revival, its original production was considered one of his "failures" (Sondheim fails the way most people would hope to breath), so it is off to Wikipedia for some background on the show.
Assassins is an American musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by John Weidman, based on an idea by Charles Gilbert, Jr. It uses the premise of a murderous carnival game to produce a revue-style portrayal of men and women who attempted to assassinate Presidents of the United States; the music varies to reflect the popular music of the eras depicted. First opening Off-Broadway in 1990, the Broadway revival of Assassins won five 2004 Tony Awards.
Well that's not exactly brimming with information is it? I did take a side trip to look up the Wikipedia Sondheim article for a nice coffee break and grist for the mill of a later piece. Anyway, break over, so we head for one of the most priceless places on the web if you love musical theater: All Musicals to get the full Synopsis of Assassins. Click on the letter "A" ... well YOU click on the letter A, the full synopsis of the libretto with a list of all the songs and lyrics is only a few thousands words or so. You will like the visit and you can do this for any musical in their vast collection, not to mention buying CDs, finding posters ... well I digress. Digressing is one of things I do best.

Assassins opens in a fairground shooting gallery, with calliope music playing. Amidst flashing lights, we see a series of male target figures, dressed in the fashions of the past two hundred years, trundle by on a conveyor belt. The fair's prize shelf, in addition to the usual array of stuffed toys and souvenirs, includes a sexy life-sized female doll, money, elaborate scrolled documents, books, newspapers, and fancy jars of colored liquid. The Proprietor stands behind the counter.
Now I have the song for Guiteau, so I drop by You Tube to see if it's there, but they only have a local theater production and the values are a little muddy, but digressing again, I sit and listen to the Ballad of Guiteau and then the dramatic concluding song with it's remarkable "Something Just Broke" and "Everybody's Got a Right to Dream". If you like cold chills, listen to it down at the bottom. No matter how much you may dislike a political leader, nothing is worth the lyrics in "Something Just Broke". I may use the lyrics again when I write about Kennedy since that is the original placement in the musical.
Something just broke.
Something just made a little dent.
Something just broke.
Only for a moment,
Something got bent.

Something just left a little mark.
Something just went a little dark.
Something just…went.

Something to be mended.
Something we’ll have to weather.
Bringing us all together,
If only for a moment.

I’ll remember it forever.

Nothing has really ended,
Only just been suspended.
Cause something just stirred.

And I thought…

Something just woke.
Something just spoke.
Something I wish I hadn’t heard.
Something bewildering occurred.

Fix it up fast, please!
Till its just smoke.
Till its only something just passed,
Nothing that will last,
Nothing but the moment,
Just an awful moment.

But something just…

Oh, I hope it someday will be mended.

Only one thing remains once the rewrite of all this material is done, a nice little trip to google for a good biography and the images for Guiteau. Daily Gusto has a wonderful write up on the show and biographical information on Guiteau. Daily Gusto is a wildly colorful blog on every subject on the sun. You can backtrack to the home page for all the categories.

Broke and alone, Guiteau turned to a time-honored moneymaker: religious hucksterism. He toured the country preaching a weird, garbled faith and charging Christians for listening. ... Guiteau sucked up to the most prominent politicians of the day. After regularly preaching a stump speech for Ulysses S. Grant, he threw his support to James Garfield. But instead of writing a new speech for Garfield, he just inserted Garfield's name at the end of his long speech recounting Grant's battle victories.
And that is all it takes. One sentence in A little Day in History and a few hours following bread crumbs from place to place. Then hit: PUBLISH POST


Travis said...

And I was just going to write about the pumpkin spice latte I had this morning.


This is one of the reasons I enjoy stopping here...I never know what I'm going to get, but I always know I'll learn something.

Jamie said...

Pumpkin Spice Lattes are GOOD!!

the teach said...

Jamie, that marvelous post deserves more than a couple of comments. Loved what I learned here. Will stop by more often!

maryt said...

My MAnic Monday post is up at http://maryt.wordpress.com