30 June 2008

Canada Day

Frequently referred to as "Canada's birthday", particularly in the popular press, the occasion marks the joining of the British colonies of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the Province of Canada into a federation of four provinces (the Province of Canada being divided, in the process, into Ontario and Quebec) on July 1, 1867. However, though Canada is regarded as having become a kingdom in its own right on that date, the British Parliament at first kept limited rights of political control over the new country, which were shed by stages over the years until the last vestiges were ended in 1982, when the Constitution Act patriated the Canadian constitution. Canada Day thus differs from Independence Day celebrations in other countries in that it does not commemorate a clear-cut date of complete independence.


29 June 2008

Pride - Manic Monday

The human race is challenged more than ever before to demonstrate our mastery - not over nature but of ourselves”
Rachel Carson

Last year for the Fourth of July I did the ultimate patriotic musical, 1776. Watching this movie is our family tradition for the holiday. This year pride means something different than the holiday. It is "Pride goeth before fall", Pride as one of the seven deadly sins, and the animals of the planet including the prides of lions whose habitat is being destroyed mile after mile by the one creature that can alter its environment for the worse.

How many of the species that existed when that wonderful document was signed are now gone forever? How many are we close to losing? How many of the pristine seas, lakes and rivers explored by the founders are now polluted with the waste of mankind? How much of the once clear air is now filled with choking chemicals and by products? Can we in all honesty still sing these lines from Katherine Bates poem: America The Beautiful

O beautiful for halcyon skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the enameled plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till souls wax fair as earth and air
And music-hearted sea!

In 1776 the population of the country was 2.5 million. It is now over 300 million. The world population was 978 million. It is now 7 billion and will be 9 billion in 40 years. Dominion does not grant the right of destruction. Think of the miracle of the earth, the beauty that still exists, the amazing diversity and wonder of creation, and the circle of life of which we are all a part. Preserving that would be a matter of real pride.

Ten years ago there were 100,000 in the wild. Now there are approximately 30,000. Unless we change, there may be only one way to see a pride and a Lion King.

27 June 2008

The Body In The Castle

On this day in 1829 a man died in Genoa, Italy. He was very wealthy, but there was no hint of foul play as he had been ill for a long, long time. He had no family other than one nephew who inherited the huge fortune, but the will did have some strings attached. If the nephew died without children, all the lovely money went to a place that the deceased had never seen. Why he made that provision is still a mystery 179 years later.

The nephew did die without children and the money did go elsewhere as directed and as a result, you can visit both the man in his crypt in the entrance of a huge red castle, and see the result of his bequest. Plan several days for this visit as there are lots of buildings, many miles, a subway ride or two, and lots and lots of animals. You still won't see it all as the storage areas, workrooms, and research areas fill warehouses not open to the public.

The bequest of James Smithson to the United States of America is probably the greatest single gift from one man to a nation. In 1836 President Andrew Jackson sent diplomat Richard Rush to England to negotiate for transfer of the funds, and two years later Rush set sail for home with 11 boxes containing a total of 104,960 gold sovereigns, eight shillings, and seven pence, as well as Smithson's mineral collection, library, scientific notes, and personal effects. After the gold was melted down, it amounted to a fortune worth well over $500,000. After considering a series of recommendations, including the creation of a national university, a public library, or an astronomical observatory, Congress agreed that the bequest would support the creation of a museum, a library, and a program of research, publication, and collection in the sciences, arts, and history. On August 10, 1846, the act establishing the Smithsonian Institution was signed into law by President James K. Polk.

Today, the Smithsonian is composed of 19 museums, nine research centers throughout the United States and the world and the national zoo. Besides the original Smithsonian Institution Building, popularly known as the "Castle," visitors to Washington, D.C., tour the National Museum of Natural History, which houses the natural science collections, the National Zoological Park, and the National Portrait Gallery. The National Museum of American History houses the original Star-Spangled Banner and other artifacts of U.S. history. The National Air and Space Museum has the distinction of being the most visited museum in the world, exhibiting marvels of aviation and space history such as the Wright brothers' plane and Freedom 7, the space capsule that took the first American into space. John Smithson, the Smithsonian Institution's great benefactor, is interred in a tomb in the Smithsonian Building.

Enjoy the links as the zoo web cams and the on line exhibits are fascinating. Just remember to say thank you to the man who cared about knowledge so much that he made sure the United States would never be without it. Even though he never saw the country while living, his body rests in honor in the first building erected with his fortune.

25 June 2008

Arte y Pico

This lovely statute is called the "Arte y Pico" award which was created to be given to bloggers who inspire others with their creative energy and talents no matter whether it be in the form of writing, artwork, design, interesting material, or contributions to the blogger community. When a blogger receives this award it is considered a "special honor" and, once presented to you, it is to be passed on to at least 5 other bloggers who meet the criteria. You will need to either speak Spanish or use Babelfish to translate the Arte y Pico page, but it is worth the effort.

This lovely lady was presented to me by Linda at Are We There Yet who writes one of the most entertaining and eclectic blogs in the sphere. Whether she is discoursing on family, friends, work, or just items of passing interest, you will always find her good company. So pour your morning coffee or your after work glass of wine and visit her often.

Linda was kind enough to say that my posts are well thought out and enlightening. She writes them from a historic standpoint and passes along little known and interesting facts about our world that will either make you sit up and say, "hey, I never knew that!" or "ah-ha, so that's where that comes from!" (She sent the award before I compared gas prices and great paintings.)

Linda got her award from Mo of It's A Blog Eat Blog World and she passed it along to Travis of Trav's Thoughts, both of whom are on my daily rounds and highly recommended. Now for my five:

Claire of A Little Piece of Me writes one of the most whimsical and entertaining blogs on the planet. Whether it is the naughty shenanigans of Willie, beautiful pictures of her hiking trips, thoughtful questions to do with her classes in counseling, or interactions with her family, you will always find something to make you smile, make you think, or just make you sigh at the beauty of it all.

Vanilla Birdie of Tick Tock Goes The Clock doesn't blog as often as her many fans would like, but when she does we all are just stunned. This lovely young woman has a life and a future. She is a student living in New York with a commentary on her surroundings, her family, life in general and the music, books, and art that she loves. The grace and beauty of her writing gives you hope for the future.

Shelly of This Eclectic Life. This Texas wildflower always has something entertaining up her sleeve. Stop by for a good old fashioned welcome Y'All, a fun contest, a charity to notice, or just a laugh out loud story. Shelly is as warm as Texas sunshine and a heart that would give the size of her state a good competition.

My favorite professor at eProf2. You know that favorite teacher you will never forget? They were the one who laid out a path for you to consider, an idea to investigate, a piece of information that led you to a bit of wisdom, or just told you something you never knew before. Well, that person has a blog. You can almost see him smile as that something you really need to hear is there on your computer screen. Enjoy the visit and come away just a little more thoughtful.

Mary of Work of the Poet and Answers To The Questions is my favorite quirky place to visit. You simply don't know what you will find. It could be a book review, a link to somewhere truly different on the web, or a chance to vote on a really bad piece of art. Then there are the photographs, everything from a Ferris wheel to a flower. Mary scoops up awards with both arms and they deservedly just keep coming. Please pay her a visit.

I may come back to this award simply because there are so many great places and writers to visit, but the wonderful ones above will keep you busy for awhile.


Monet Painting - $80 Million

Tank of Gas - Priceless

24 June 2008

A Pocketful of History

The initial 50 State quarter program began with the first state in the union, Delaware issued in 1999, and comes to an end this year with the last state to be admitted to the union: Hawaii. It is interesting that this quarter will be issued shortly before the Presidential election when for the first time there will probably be a Hawaiian candidate on the ballot with Barack Obama.

Unlike most coinage, the quarters have actually earned money for the Treasury because so many people around the world have been collecting the whole set. It has been so successful that it will be extended with quarters for the District of Colubia and U.S. Territories over the next couple of years.

The following review is of a fascinating book that tells stories about how and why the various designs for each state were chosen by their respective states for submission to the treasury. Each one offers insight into the history, personalities and events important to the state.

A Pocketful of History
By Jim Noles

Reviewed by Stephen Foster

History, Sartre said, is what happens behind our backs (or something to that effect). It's also something that jangles in our pockets, if we carry or save or even spend quarters from the 50 State Quarters Program. We know this because Jim Noles has taken the time and expended great effort to write the winsome and valuable A Pocketful of History: Four Hundred Years of America—One State Quarter at a Time (Da Capo Press).

Following Canada's lead in the mid 1990s, the US government decided to issue, over a period of ten years, commemorative quarters representing some significant and representative event or symbol or enduring attribute of each of the fifty states, issued in the order in which all fifty states came into the union. There is more than one history at work here, that being a coin's depiction of a state's historical self-definition — but, in addition, much to our benefit, Noles has taken the time to tell us the stories behind the states' decisions and debates on which events or symbols to use, and how best to depict them.

Those descriptions in themselves prove to be a fascinating look at how politics and personalities shape what we see and how we see it — a history lesson in itself.

In scrupulous — but not overbearing — detail, Noles tells us about Delaware's Ceasar Rodney who, in 1776, suffering from a debilitating cancer, rode 80 miles in one day from his home state to Philadelphia just in time to cast his vote for independence; or Colorado's perhaps not unexpected depiction of the majestic Rockies as a symbol of the beauty and natural resources of the state; or North Dakota's display of bison and the stunning buttes and mountains that make up the 39th state's harshly beautiful Badlands.

The legislation to create the 50 State Quarters Program was signed into law in 1997 by President Bill Clinton, and the plan was to issue the quarters incrementally over a ten-year period. By the end of 2008, with the minting of Hawaii's quarter (Hawaiian monarch King Kamehameha I stretching his hand toward the eight major Hawaiian Islands), the Quarters program officially ended, and it has proven to be an enormous success — both financially for the government and aesthetically and historically for numismatists and otherwise interested parties everywhere.

Noles, thankfully, provides us a comprehensive look at the very distinct, yet commonly bound, 50 states that make up the U.S. He does so with enough erudition to make the book substantive while interjecting the perfect amount of lightheartedness and whimsy to make the book eminently readable.

District of Columbia and Territorial quarters will be minted in addition to the 50 quarters the last to be issued this year with Arizona, Alaska, and Hawaii.

"The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness"

22 June 2008

A Bad Night In Dixie

The trouble with the word "Night" is that there are just way too many of them. My first thought was the Van Gogh picture and Don McClean song "Starry Starry Night", but I've done that already, so enjoy the link and pictures. How about a fun trip to my youth with the Four Seasons and Oh What A Night? No. Nice song but no bells going off.

Then there is what is probably one of the world's best bedtime books for children that has now been around more than 60 years, Goodnight Moon. When it comes to stories, then Scherezade had 1001 nights of tales to tell that you can read with just one click. Or how about, "They're Coming To Get You!". You can actually go on line to watch the full, classic "Night of the Living Dead". Both way too recent for me. Let's go back in time. I need an historical event, a movie, and a song. If you are going to do something with the prompt of a single word - Over do it!

One of the most shocking acts during the Civil War was the destruction of the railroad tracks that supplied the Confederate Army. The brutal raid towards the end of the fighting was led by Major General George Stoneman using Sherman's concept of "total war". Stoneman laid waste to hundreds of miles of Southern territory, destroying virtually everything in his path. By clicking on the link to his name you will reach eight solid pages of Civil War History about a single event on one of the best sites on the web for those who can't get enough: Historynet dot com. To give you an idea of the quality of the writing on Historynet dot com, here is the closing paragraph:

Stoneman and his cavalry division thus passed out of the war and into local legend. The raid had been a powerful one. A force of only 6,000 men had destroyed uncountable tons of supplies and miles of railroad tracks, shocked the local citizens with the reality of war, traveled more than 600 miles through enemy territory, and assisted in the capture of Jefferson Davis. Stoneman, one historian appraised, had utilized the methods of Sherman in a 'splendidly conceived, ably executed attack upon the war potential and the civilian population of the South.’ Sherman himself, the author of the concept of total war, admiringly referred to Stoneman’s raid as ‘fatal to the hostile armies of Lee and Johnston.’ Stoneman and his men, beyond any doubt, had amply fulfilled their orders ‘to destroy.’
That's the history and here for those who just want the short hand version is The Band from "The Last Waltz" with The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down. (Click on song title for the story of how it came to be written).

19 June 2008

A Good Reason To Smile

Last year a painting was put up for Auction in London. The gallery thought it was a Rembrandt knockoff and valued it at just $3,100. Some bidders disagreed with this judgement and the price was eventually bid up to $4.5 million for the tiny 9 1/2-inch-by-6 1/2-inch portrait of 'Rembrandt Laughing'. Yesterday after months of testing, the painting was declared authentic and valued betweeen $30 - $50 million.

Clues to its authenticity included Brush stroke, contour, materials and the monogram all point to the master's hand in addition to the unique form of the signature. A Rembrandt seldom comes on the market, so this new discovery is setting the art world on its ear. It can be viewed at the Rembrandt House Museum in Amsterdam through June 29, on loan from the anonymous buyer.

Ernst van de Wetering, head of the Rembrandt Research Project, describes it as having a "most natural quality of light you can think of". At the time of the creation or the work, the painter was only in his early 20s and just starting to be recognized as an artist. This was an experiment of working with different expressions. What initially brought its provenance into question was that it's location could not be verified prior to 1800 when an engraver attributed it to Franz Hals not recognizing the face as Rembrandt's. Only the x-rays and in depth study of both the portrait and a second painting underneath provided clues to the true artist.

For comparison to some of the master's other works, and an excellent biography on the web, check out Rembrandt Van Rijn.

18 June 2008

How High's The Water?

We have all been watching the news and the floods throughout the midwest that have driven so many people from their homes as well as destroying farmland and crops in the path of the rising water. For those wishing to assist families made homeless by this cycle of nature, the Red Cross is always the best option.

Many people think of the Great Depression in terms of the dust bowl. What gets little mention is the latter part of the cycle and the great floods of 1937. There was often little warning and tragedies of broken dams, levies, or overflowing rivers took more lives than is common today. One of the most dramatic of these tragedies was not a seasonal flood in the midwest but an event that occurred on June 19, 1938 when a western flash flood of Custer Creek in Montana washed out the tracks causing a train wreck that killed 46 people and seriously injured more than 60.

On the evening of June 19, a track walker was sent out to check the rail lines near Custer Creek in Terry, Montana. He reported dry conditions and no problems with the tracks. However, within just a few hours, a sudden downpour overwhelmed Custer Creek. A bridge used by trains was washed out, and when the Olympian Special came through, it went crashing into the raging waters with no warning. Two sleeper cars were buried in the muddy waters. A pitch-black night on the Great Plains made rescue efforts extremely difficult and 46 people lost their lives. The rear cars stayed above the water, but scores of passengers were seriously injured. They could not be evacuated until the following morning.

If you are interesting in history and genealogy, check out the link above that gives the newspaper coverage of the wreck and lists the names of many of the victims. If you happen to be driving in the western desert this time of year, pay attention to any signs that indicate an arroyo or dry river bed. In the space of just a few minutes, these can turn into life threatening bits of geography.

15 June 2008

Manic Monday - Will

It's a busy weekend so I shall cheat a bit because where there's a "WILL" there's a way. This is political season, so here is my all time favorite WILL:

Mr. Will Rogers

Democrats never agree on anything, that's why they're Democrats. If they agreed with each other, they would be Republicans.
Politics has become so expensive that it takes a lot of money even to be defeated.
Everything is changing. People are taking their comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke.

I don't know jokes; I just watch the government and report the facts.
On account of being a democracy and run by the people, we are the only nation in the world that has to keep a government four years, no matter what it does.

A fool and his money are soon elected.

About all I can say for the United States Senate is that it opens with a prayer and closes with an investigation.
I have a scheme for stopping war. It's this - no nation is allowed to enter a war till they have paid for the last one.

Alexander Hamilton started the U.S. Treasury with nothing, and that was the closest our country has ever been to being even.

Ancient Rome declined because it had a Senate, now what's going to happen to us with both a House and a Senate?

Be thankful we're not getting all the government we're paying for.

If I studied all my life, I couldn't think up half the number of funny things passed in one session of congress.
If you ever injected truth into politics you have no politics.

It's easy being a humorist when you've got the whole government working for you.

Now if there is one thing that we do worse than any other nation, it is try and manage somebody else's affairs.
Politics has become so expensive that it takes a lot of money even to be defeated.

The man with the best job in the country is the vice-president. All he has to do is get up every morning and say, "How is the president?"

The more you read and observe about this Politics thing, you got to admit that each party is worse than the other. The one that's out always looks the best.

The only difference between death and taxes is that death doesn't get worse every time Congress meets.

There ought to be one day - just one - when there is open season on senators.

This country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as when the baby gets hold of a hammer.

We will never have true civilization until we have learned to recognize the rights of others.

You can't say civilization don't advance... in every war they kill you in a new way.

14 June 2008

One Thing


Far away places with strange-soundin' names
Far away over the sea
Those far away places with the strange-soundin' names
Are callin', callin' me

Goin' to China or maybe Siam
I want to see for myself
Those far away places I've been readin' about
In a book that I took from the shelf

I start gettin' restless whenever I hear
The whistle of a train
I pray for the day I can get underway
And look for those castles in Spain

They call me a dreamer, well maybe I am
But I know that I'm burnin' to see
Those far away places with the strange-soundin' names
Callin', callin' me

(I pray for the day when I'll find a way
Those far away places to see)

Those far away places with the strange-soundin' names
Callin', callin' me
At the top of the page are the three queens of the Cunard Line: Victoria, Mary, and Elizabeth. Sitting at the apex of my personal "bucket list" is to board a great liner for a trip around the world. Other things on the list have come and gone, been achieved or discarded, but this is the one thing that remains.

It was 1949 and at the age of five after already having moved seven times, I was sitting in my bedroom, reading my books while the radio played, Far Away places. There was no way to know that moving would be something I learned to do very, very well while destroying the address books of loved ones and friends. In just one 12 year period there would be more than 20 schools between first grade and high school graduation. The only period of being stationery would be from the purchase of a house in 1964 to divorce in 1971, and "Anywhere I Hang My Hat is Home" and "It's Just the Gypsy in My Soul" would become theme songs.

A cousin who had lived in only two homes and in sixty years had never been more than 30 miles from home except for rare long vacations, asked if there was anything I had missed. I answered that the only regret was not having a "home town". You may not be able to go back again. I don't even have an again to visit. It is probably fortunate that being born a Californian, I'm used to the shifting of tectonic plates.

So today's question:

What is the "ONE THING" on your bucket list that has never been erased or questioned, that you are still longing to do?

12 June 2008

New Book Meme

Keith Marshall of Zen Mischief has tagged me with a book meme. Stop by and say hello to Keith and then feel free to steal the meme if you like it.

One book that changed your life:

The Bumper Book by Watty Piper. This was literally the first book I ever read by myself. The original is now out of print, but the hardcover can still be found. It opened a world of color, rhyme, and short stories that led to a lifetime of love of books.

One book that you have read more than once:

James Michener, Hawaii - This was the first of the great Michener historical novels that I read and absolutely fell in love with the whole sweep of time from the formation of the Islands to all the stories up to the modern era. This genre is still my favorite: The well researched historical novel written by a great author and filled with true to life characters based in reality (Spare me the romantic bodice rippers!!!).

One book that you would want on a desert island:

Anthony Powell, Dance To The Music of Time. This book (or rather four books for four seasons) just made the desert island list. For years I had been promising myself I would read it. That finally happened and it is going to be one of those go back often books. Then the old standby that must float up on the desolate sands: The Collected Works of Shakespeare.

One book that made you laugh:

Douglas Adams; Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy. Do not read this book in public. People will assume you are totally certifiable. You start to giggle just thinking about reading it, much less actually opening the book. This was the book that really hooked me on British humor and howls of laughter later (Thank you Monty Python), I am still addicted.

One book that made you cry:

Helene Hanff, 84 Charing Cross Road To this day when I think about the line, "The blessed man who sold me all my books died a few months ago." things get a little damp. It is that connection that only happens between people who genuinely love to read and share the very real joy of holding a wonderful book in your hands.

One book you can’t read:

Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time It's right up there on my bookcase. It is the work of a genius. I know, I know ... someday.

One book you wish you'd written:

Almost anything by David McCullough, Doris Kearns Goodwin, or Shelby Foote. We are blessed now to have historians who are great story tellers. I would love to have written even one of their books.

One book you wish had never been written:

This one I left just as Keith wrote it. "Not sure I think any book shouldn’t exist (that's a variant of free speech), but if I really had to choose I’d pick two books: the Bible and the Koran; they’ve done more damage in the world than possibly all other books put together."

One book you're reading:

Robert Hughes, The Fatal Shore. I've been working on my genealogy and have a branch that ended up in New Zealand and Australia. This was being read for background and now the genealogy is temporarily forgotten while enjoying book.

One book you're going to read:

This list is far too long to even begin. I'll just go to my Amazon Wish List and click on whatever's next. Unfortunately, this list gets added to faster than I can make a dent.

10 June 2008

Meet Me In Dreamland

Nature likes to play strange tricks on people. You can take two people with vastly different looks and talents and put them together. The offspring might be fortunate enough to take their pick from columns A & B and end up with a vastly superior C, or they could go shopping and end up with a disaster of all the worst possibilities. Fortunately for most of us, we get a few of the goodies, a few of the baddies, and end up somewhere near average.

My father was a much too hard drinking, legally blind math genius of slender, graceful build, and a teller of tales when not depressed. He possessed a prodigious memory for places and people and could dance up a storm. Now I'm not saying he couldn't carry a tune in a bucket. I'm saying he couldn't even find a bucket to make the attempt.

Mother had the figure of a bottom heavy hour glass, despite severe nearsightedness read almost before she could walk, could make up a novel length story about a trip down the street, loved other countries and cultures but could get lost going around the block, and was more than a little manic depressive. Could she sing? Judy Garland would have sold her soul for my mother's voice. Side note: Talent without drive, ambition, direction and opportunity is just a nice thing to have and can lead to self destruction.

Being the only child of the black sheep of their respective families has its advantages. No matter what you do, people are surprised you turned out so well. If nature had been rediculously kind, I would have been a slender, brilliant expert in math and literature able to sing people into a coma of adoration when they weren't on their feet cheering and screaming for more after a dance number or blissfully charmed by my acting performances. This would financially have enabled me to tour the world exposed to all of the variety of well loved cultures.

This did not happen.

So what did I get out of the mix of genes: My mother's hips, my father's singing voice and an inability to see beyond my nose without help. Those are what I object to most. Now for the goodies: My mom's joie de vivre when she was on an upswing. You couldn't depress me with a sledge hammer. This has allowed me to deal with situations that would have most people curled into a fetal position. A darn good mind though not quite good enough for Mensa. A perfectly tuned ear and memory for melody lines. Please don't hit a flat around me; it hurts (Absolutely cannot watch American Idol). A deep appreciation and delight in people and cultures different from my own when lucky enough to bump into them. Not perfect, but not bad.

So here is the question. What qualities did your parents have that you wish you had been made heir and which ones did you get that you appreciate or wish hadn't been tossed into the hopper?

For your musical interlude today, you get one of my lullabyes by the woman who could sing almost as well as mama and whose birthday just happens to be today. Sing for the nice people Judy.

09 June 2008

Under Capricorn

Mo of It's a Blog Eat Blog World has certainly produced a way for Under to be interesting with what is probably his best graphic ever for this week's Manic Monday word.

Under Capricorn (1949) is one of the few Alred Hitchcock movies that was not an overwhelming success and yet has become a classic because of the performances, direction, and unique camera work despite moving slower than a snail on sleeping pills. The basic plot is pure soap opera. The only way to give you an idea of just how soapy is to quote the Wiki entry

In 1831 Australia, Charles Adare (Wilding) arrives with his uncle, the new governor (Cecil Parker). Charles hopes to make his fortune in Sydney. He is befriended by Samson Flusky (Cotten), a prosperous ex-convict. Sam's wife, Lady Henrietta (Bergman), was a friend of Charles's sister in Ireland. Sam hopes that Charles will cheer up his wife, who is an alcoholic. Meanwhile the housekeeper, Milly (Leighton), secretly loves Sam, and encourages Henrietta's drinking. Sam has been sent to an Australian prison after he confessed to a killing actually committed by Henrietta, who followed Sam and waited for his release. Charles's efforts to rehabilitate Henrietta conflict with Milly's intentions. Eventually, Sam becomes jealous, and in a rage, accidentally shoots Charles. This time Hattie accepts the blame for the shooting.
Believe it or not, the real reason for the lack of success was the scandal of Ingrid Bergman's love affair with Roberto Rossellini for which she was not forgiven by Americans until the release of Anastasia. The other bit of trivia that everyone always wants to know about a film is where did Alfred Hitchcock make his cameo appearance? In Under Capricorn, he can be seen in the parade and then on the courthouse steps at the beginning of the movie.

So if you want to be underwhelmed (if you can be over you can be under) by a Hitchcock movie, this is the one to rent for its redeeming qualities.

08 June 2008

Three On A Match

For another year we will go without a triple crown winner. Whether it was the heat, the hoof, or the lack of recent runs, Big Brown just didn't have his motor running yesterday. Let us hope it was nothing more serious than one of those reasons.

In the previous blog entry I described the Belmont Stakes Trophy with the figure of Fenian on the cover and the three foundation horses supporting the bowl. Several people wrote that they didn't realize that to be a thoroughbred, a horse is required to be descended from Eclipse, Herod or Matchem and inquiring about the history.

My thanks to History and Origin of the Thoroughbred Horse for the following information. If you love either history or horses, please take the time to read all of the wonderful material on this site and explore many of the links to additional information.

In the early 1700s three Arabian horses arrived in the British Isles. The first was "The Byerley Turk" who had been captured by Colonel Robert Byerley from a Turkish officer at the battle of Buda in 1688. The Turk became Colonel Byerley's war horse and after the Colonel's marriage came with him to Goldsborough Hall where it retired at stud and covered many mares. The Byerley Turk died in 1706 and is said to have been buried in the grounds beneath a tree. The matings of The Byerly Turk led to a horse named Herod who was foaled in 1858

The Darley Arabian was foaled in 1700 and was purchased by Thomas Darley while he was in Syria in 1704. He sent the horse to Yorkshire, England where he was bred to numerous mares. The most successful matings were with Betty Leeds. The Childers line and the Darley Arabian became the great-great-grandsire of Eclipse who in his racing career was described as "Eclipse first, the rest nowhere." The Darley Arabian is the most important of the three foundation stallions in terms on his influence of the Thoroughbred breed.

The last of the foundation stallions to come to England was the Goldophin Stallion who was foaled in Yemen. After being shipped to Syria and then to Tunis, he was given to the King of France as a gift. Edward Coke saw him and brought him to England. The second Earl of Godolphin acquired the horse and bred him to several distinguished mares. Mated to Roxana, he sired Lath, the greatest racehorse in England after Flying Childers: and another mating of these two produced Cade, the sire of the great Matchem who carried on the line of the Godolphin Arabian. In 1850 it was remarked that "the blood of the Godolphin Arabian is in every stable in England."

The breeding of the rapid Arabians to the strong, more solid British horses produced the breed now known as Thoroubred, and through cross breeding and through match stakes races produced the three foundation stallions: Heron, Eclipse, and Matchem.

The following details are from the History site:


The offspring which fixed the influence of the Byerley Turk as a foundation sire was named Herod who was foaled in 1758. He was owned by the Duke of Cumberland, the third son of King George II, who was an important breeder of horses at Newmarket and in Hanover. Although Herod was not an outstanding racehorse, he did prove to be a superlative sire. His descendants were extremely important in the development of the Thoroughbred throughout Europe and America. Among the most notable descendants of Herod were Diomed (winner of the first Epsom Derby in 1780), Sir Archie, the Flying Dutchman, and Epinard.


1764 was the year of a great eclipse and this astronomical event became the name of the horse that was a star in the history of the Thoroughbred. Eclipse, as we know him, was by Marske, out of Spiletta and was bred for the Duke of Cumberland. He began racing in 1769 at age five, when he ran away from his competition in his first race at Epsom. It was at this race that the famous Denis O'Kelly remarked, "Eclipse first, the rest nowhere." Eclipse won 18 races in his career and he was never whipped or spurred. He went on to a distinguished career at stud, siring Pot-8-O's who passed on his influence to such descendants as American Eclipse, Hyperion, Kelso, and Sea Bird. The list of Eclipse's distinguished descendants is virtually endless, and he is the reason for the predominance of the Darley Arabian line over the lines of the other two foundation stallions.


Most racehorses are noted for their speed, but the speed often comes at the price of an excitable temperament, and even viciousness. The horse Matchem foaled in 1748 was the grandson of the Godolphin Arabian. Besides speed, he supplied an excellent disposition to his descendants. The horse Snap was compared to the gentle Matchem: "Snap for speed and Matchem for truth and daylight." (Snap was a grandson of the Darley Arabian.) When we consider Matchem's blood heirs, we find many even-tempered yet fast horses. Matchem's influence was not as widespread as his famous peers, but his offspring had a particular influence on American horses. The owner's son, Edward Fenwick, who immigrated to South Carolina in 1755, brought ten of Matchem's descendants to America. Brutus, one of Matchem's sons, dominated racing in South Carolina for some time.

06 June 2008

Can Big Brown Deliver

The Carnation is a humble flower, but if Big Brown wins the 140th running of the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, he will will wear a blanket of 400 white flowers to become one of only Eleven other horses to have won thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown, making it one of the most difficult accomplishments in sports.

A horse is only considered a thoroughbred if you can trace their bloodlines to one of three horses; Matchen, 1748, Herod, 1758 and Eclipse, 1764. These horses are represented on the Tiffany trophy by supporting a silver bowl originally given by the Belmont family to the owner of the winning horse at the Belmont Stakes. The trophy celebrates the heritage of the Belmont Stakes and stands approximately 18 inches high. The trophy is presented to the owner in the winner's circle along with the carnation blanket.

Some basic facts about The Belmont

This is the eldest brother of the Triple Crown's three races first run in 1867 at Jerome Park, NY.
The winner of the first Kentucky Derby, Aristides, ran second in the Belmont Stakes of 1875, behind Calvin.

It was named for August Belmont, the first president of the American Jockey Club.

The first Belmont was won by a filly, Ruthless. She was one of only two fillies to ever win the Belmont Stakes.

The first Belmont Stakes was run clockwise in keeping with English tradition (in the United States all horse races are run counter-clockwise).

Grey Lag's Belmont (1921) was the first running of this prestigious event in the counter-clockwise direction at Belmont Park.

The first post parade in this country came in the 14th running of the Belmont Stakes in 1880. Until that time, the horses went directly from paddock to post. When you hear the opening strains of Sinatra's, "New York, New York" that signifies it is time for the Belmont Post-Parade. The song that used to be used was "Sidewalks of New York".

In 1890, the Belmont Stakes was moved to Morris Park, a mile and three-eighths track located a few miles east of what is now Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. In 1905 the stakes race moved once again to Belmont Park and it has been raced there ever since except for two years (1911-1912) when the race was not run.

The fastest Belmont ever run was by the legendary Secretariat. His 1973 Belmont Stakes victory still stands as the best in Belmont history and a world record for the mile and one-half distance at 2:24. What is perhaps even more remarkable is that he won by 31 lengths shattering Count Fleet's existing record of 25 lengths set in 1943!

The second-fastest clocking is shared by Easy Goer (1989) and A. P. Indy (1992) at 2:26, while Risen Star (1988) and Point Given (2001) hold the fourth-fastest time in Belmont history at 2:26 2/5. So have your stop watches ready to see if another horse can join these illustrious horses.

The Belmont Stakes is the fourth oldest stakes race in North America. The Phoenix Stakes, now run in the fall at Keeneland as The Phoenix Breeders' Cup, was first run in 1831, the Queen's Plate in Canada had its inauguration in 1860 and the Travers in Saratoga was initially run in 1864.

Official Drink: The Belmont Breeze based on an old, Colonial recipe for whiskey punch: "One of sour, two of sweet, three of strong, four of weak

1 1/2 oz. Seagrams 7
3/4 oz. Harveys Bristol Cream Sherry
1/2 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
1 oz. Simple Syrup
1 1/2 oz. Fresh Orange juice
1 1/2 oz. Cranberry juice
1 oz. of soda
1 oz. of 7up
fresh strawberry
lemon wedge
(you may substitute 1 oz. of Sweet & Sour mix for the lemon juice and simple syrup although fresh ingredients are best)


Shake first 6 ingredients with ice and top with half 7up and half soda, approximately one ounce of each. Garnish with fresh strawberry, a mint sprig, and a lemon wedge.

What Sexism Where?

For the last several days various talking heads have been minimizing the effect of sexism on the primaries. Here in all their GHASTLEY GLORY the testimony to the contrary. However qualified Senator Obama is or will be, he had an enormous amount of unpaid advertising that should disgust anyone with a conscience.

To Sign the protest petition, go to the Womens Media Center

05 June 2008

Forty years ago on June 5, 1968, I cast my first presidential vote for this man. That night I sobbed for what might have been. Forty years later, maybe we still can hope.

It is not enough to understand, or to see clearly. The future will be shaped in the arena of human activity, by those willing to commit their minds and their bodies to the task.

Robert Kennedy
November 20, 1925 - June 6, 1968

04 June 2008

Dona Nobis Pacem

To see more Peace Globes, go to MiMi Writes, the Dona Nobis Pacem center.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy;

St. Francis of Assisi

Words...If you get the right ones, in the right order, you can nudge the world a little." Tom Stoppard


vrede Waki Qiwebis Khanaghutyun Bak pakoj ashanti Spokoj peoc'h Nyeinjanyei Pau nanomonsetôtse Tsumukikiatu Wetaskiwin Lap mir Sulh Hetep peace paco rahu Solh Rauha paix Fon Fifa fred sochaint sochin der friede Irini py'guapy malu Shalom Shanti kev sib haum xeeb béke Friur damai Tutkium pace Heiwa Rukun Soksang Peoning Hwa Kurdish Wolakota Santiphap pax taika paci rongo Enh Nahuatl tlamatcanemiliztli fred pokoj paz sérë pace pasch Wookeyeh paz Amani kapayapaan Amaithi Santiphap Sidi Baris amn salaam Hoa Binh Heddwch Sholem Alaafia uxolo Layeni Ukuthula

If you have never read or heard Mark Twain's The War Prayer, do take the time to read the link or click on the site below and hear one of the most powerful pieces ever written about the true nature of war.

03 June 2008

I Still Call Australia Home

It was a simple beginning. I went to a movie On The Beach. It was a very good movie with a great cast and was based on a book that I had read by Nevil Shute. Then he kept writing. Damn the man, but he was a good author. I managed to ignore him until PBS did a production of another book: A Town Like Alice.

Now I'm starting to think in terms of Australia stories, movies, people. .... don't you hate it when the world opens up and says, "Come On In".

The Man From Snowy River
Picnic at Hanging Rock
Muriel's Wedding
Priscilla Queen of the Desert

Damn it they have a whole industry down there for the past thirty years where I wasn't looking and they have shipped their stars north. Now this is fair warning. Buy Peter Allen albums. Go to see Hugh Jackman in the theater. Forgive Mel Gibson and see his movies. Watch Australian mini series on WE or PBS. Pay attention to Nicole Kidman in all her roles, but never never accept an invitation to party with a bunch of Aussies.

I did once. It was about 1983 in the Santa Monica canyons ... they took prisoners on a Friday morning and finally released the hostages late on Sunday. Somewhere in the middle of Saturday night, I crawled off to a corner for a few minutes. You have never been awakened until you open your eyes to a bunch of bouncing bodies singing, "Go Aussies Go". Then there was the politician or why I love Australian women. There I was in a deep conversation of world wide import with a man who actually turned out to be a member of the Australian parliament when he wasn't being an actor/singer filming Pirates of Penzance. Some female trying to start trouble asked his wife if she minded. Confident reply: "I'm just glad someone else wants to listen to him!!!"

Everytime I see a travelogue, view the images of the Sydney Opera House in full sail, contact some distant relatives who migrated to the island continent, or look at the itinerary for a cunard liner just waiting to head for that harbor, the longing to go becomes almost overwhelming. Don't bother telling me they have a snake that can drop you in your tracks not to mention several species of poisonous arachnids and insects and the spur on a platypus. So what if those cute, cuddly Koalas are not quite as cuddly as they appear. All it takes is one Qantas commercial and I want to go. For the two minutes it takes to play one song, I'm dewy eyed and homesick. So even though I've never been: I Still Call Australia Home.

01 June 2008


Just looking at today's Manic Monday word made me start thinking of song titles. This led to an earlier contest on the blog. Feel free to drop down and play some more if you like. In any case, the first song that popped into the frontal lobe was, "The Party's Over".

Bells Are Ringing seems dated now with its libretto centered on the switchboard of an answering service that brings together a whole host of misfits through the actions of one good intentioned operator played on both stage and screen by the incomparable Judy Holliday.

At the "Girl loses boy" point in the musical, Judy sings, "The Party's Over". Its delightful intelligent lyrics are a perfect fit for anyone who has been higher than high, in love with love, only to come crashing down in the wreckage of shattered hopes and dreams. Despite this lovely if unhappy song, you will be happy to know that "Girl gets Boy" by act III.

Since the Broadway musical and movie, the song has become a standard for virtually every female pop singer with any claim to a voice simply because of the opportunity for a fairly easy melody and meaningful lyric combined with some emoting on the side.

Here is the Doris Day hit version

Then if you like power ballads, here is the even more dramatic version by Shirley Bassey version. You have to click her name because it doesn't allow embedding.

The party's over
It's time to call it a day
They've burst your pretty balloon
And taken the moon away
It's time to wind up the masquerade
Just make your mind up the piper must be paid

The party's over
The candles flicker and dim
You danced and dreamed through the night
It seemed to be right just being with him
Now you must wake up, all dreams must end
Take off your makeup, the party's over
It's all over, my friend

The party's over
It's time to call it a day
They've burst your pretty balloon and taken the moon away
Now you must wake up, all dreams must end
Take off your makeup, the party's over
It's all over, my friend

It's all over, my friend