Jul. 10th, 2009 09:09 am
lynxreign: (Default)
I've just started a book called The War and the Bagdad Railway by Morris Jastrow, Jr. It is, of course, about the First World War. One of the reasons I was so delighted to find this book in the first place was when it was written. The publication date is 1917, the edition I have is the third and was issued in April 1918.

What inspired me to post about this book even though I've barely finished the prefaces is the following excerpt:

The railway became the spectre of the twentieth century. It was a spectre that always appeared armed "from top to toe" and when occasionally he "wore his beaver up," the face was that of a grim, determined warrior.

Notice anything striking in there? I love antiquated slang and I'd use that one if I had any idea what it meant!
EDIT: Aha! It is apparently a Shakespearian reference, or at least a phrase Shakespeare used that may or may not have been common in the early 20th century. A "Beaver" is a hinged faceguard on a helm.

I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the book even more than I'd originally anticipated. I love reading books about events that are written while the event is still going on, especially ones from long ago where I have enough distance and a fuller understanding than the author. It helps me understand how the event was viewed at the time. This one seems even better than most.

It is a book written by an American professor who attended German universities. In the prefaces, he regretfully places full blame for the war on Germany. He then goes on to state that Russia was just as bad, England was no better and France and Italy certainly did their share in the runup to creating the problem and so on. He then restates that it was All Germany's Fault! He also states

I am writing as a student of history and not as a partisan, except in so far as my position is, as I believe it to be, in accord with the American point of view as voiced by its most thoughtful and most sober representatives.

It sounds as though he has a pretty good understanding that all participating nations had a hand in the outbreak of the war and, though Germany damaged its standing, reputation and position with the invasion of Belgium, it isn't the only one to blame. He seems to be saying as much while stating the conventional opinion as a sheild against accusations of treason. I look forward to seeing if this is indeed the case throughout the book.
lynxreign: (Default)
It was only 42 years ago today that people of different races weren't allowed to marry in much of the USA. Take heart, justice does prevail eventually and eventually all of this kind of discrimination will be looked at as craziness from an earlier, more ignorant era.
lynxreign: (Taking Over)

Sing Sing Sing - Benny Goodman

One of the greatest and most important concerts of all time. This concret "legitimized" popular music for the first time in America and the West. This incarnation of the Benny Goodman Orchestra brought together some of the best musicians of the time, including Lionel Hampton and Gene Krupa. Goodman was also known for insisting that black and white performers be allowed to play together and the same held true for this concert.

Also, I forgot to mention the main reason I posted this now.
Last Saturday was the 100th anniversary of Benny Goodman's birth.

I got to see him play live when I was a kid in NJ.


Jun. 3rd, 2009 07:28 am
lynxreign: (Default)
This is actually a video from Mike Nesmith's "Elephant Parts". This was a "video album" and was an effort to make use of the video tape medium. The album consisted of music videos and comedy bits. I recommend it. Watch and enjoy.

here if above link doesn't give video
lynxreign: (Atom)
When I was a kid I had a Cab Calloway album with Jungle King on it. I also had a very, very scratchy Chuck Berry album with Jo Jo Gunne. My dad had the Oscar Brown album Sin & Soul with Signifyin' Monkey on it. The Chuck Berry album was the one I listened to last and I realized at that time, I suppose I was 8 or 9, that all three of these songs told the same fable. They even shared some of the same phrases. I thought this was very cool and still do. I thought I'd share them with you now. Anyone know of any other songs that tell this fable?

Jungle King - Cab Calloway

Jo Jo Gunne - Chuck Berry

Signifyin Monkey - Oscar Brown Jr.

Sadly, you need to go to the imeem site to listen to that last one. All that embeds here is a snippet.
lynxreign: (Interesting)
[livejournal.com profile] emilytheslayer found this

Now... where can I store it until I get a house...

Salon link

Feb. 6th, 2009 12:36 pm
lynxreign: (Workers)
This is on Salon, so you may have to watch an ad or something.

However, with the stimulus package in the news, I thought people might like a slideshow of some fruits of the last big stimulus package.

Stimulus works to fix problems like the ones we have today.
lynxreign: (Workers)
What did you do at 11:11 this morning?


Oct. 20th, 2008 05:39 pm
lynxreign: (Croooooow!)
The only valid use of Twitter: found!

lynxreign: (Tiger)
The problem for McCain is that Barack explains himself so well. ... If you listen to the man speak, you're likely to vote for him. If you listen to McCain, you're reminded of your great-uncle Elmer hashing over the injustice of MacArthur getting canned by Harry Truman. Who cares?

Old Movies

Jul. 28th, 2008 12:32 pm
lynxreign: (Forbidden Cast)
Earlier this year, I purchased the 9 disc set of the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movies. I grew up watching these movies whenever they were on TV and enjoy them greatly. They were made in the 1930s and there are quite a number of moments that are simply wrong to the modern movie viewer. Ginger Rogers played a very independent (for the time) woman in most of the movies and yet there are still quite a few moments where her behavior is jarring. Several of the earliest movies in the series have a stereotypical "dumb Italian" character that should remind any modern movie-watcher just how broad racism was as recently as 50 years ago.

[livejournal.com profile] emilytheslayer and I were watching Swing Time (1936) the other day and there's another relic of a bygone era that gave me pause. This movie contains Fred Astaire's only blackface number. To his credit, he didn't do a traditional blackface, he simply darkened his entire face with makeup, it wasn't a caricature like in minstrel shows or on Al Jolson. And the dance routine was intended as a tribute to Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, considered by many to be the greatest dancer of the era. However, the props in the early part of the number are... unfortunate. And while the dance routine itself was great, it is also uncomfortable for a modern viewer much of the time.

I'm never quite sure how to feel when watching things like this. While the movies themselves are still quite entertaining and funny, they also can serve to show modern viewers just how much things have changed in a very short time.


lynxreign: (Default)

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