Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday
Blue Christmas

Black Friday, Blue Christmas

Words at the sales table: velvet codspieces 40% off

I was thinking of Thomas Wolsey today, the day of the bargain: Black Friday. Once in a heightened position of power, Wolsey fell low when he opposed Henry VIII's wish to break with the Catholic church, renounce Henry's marriage to Catherine of Aragon and aid in the ascension of Anne Boleyn to the throne. Anne worked diligently to oust him, and in 1529, Wolsey was stripped of his office as Lord Chancellor and ordered to return the Great Seal--not something you can replace easily at Home Goods. He also “turned over” all of his wealth to Henry (including York Palace and Hampton Court), his gold and silver plate, and his jewels. You could say being King, and having the Tower of London and an executioner at your disposal, makes every day a blue spot special.

Wolsey's retiring quietly to a country house wasn’t enough for Anne B. She was furious when the King pardoned him and confirmed Wolsey as Archbishop of York. Anne had Wolsey's physician bribed into falsely accusing Wolsey of urging the Pope to excommunicate Henry, claiming he wished to seize the English throne himself. With all of these trumped up charges as evidence of treachery, the Cardinal was arrested on a charge of high treason in November.

When you read Wolsey’s history, it always reports that he fell ill on his transport to the Tower to London and died at Leicester Abbey on November 28, 1530. "When the Cardinal was thus arrested, the King sent Sir William Knight, captain of the guard of the Tower of London to fetch the Cardinal to the Tower. When the Cardinal saw Knight “… he was much astonished and shortly became ill, for he foresaw some great trouble, and for that reason men said he willingly took so much strong purgative that his constitution could not bear it.”

If I Were King of the Forest. Not Queen. Not Prince. Not Duke.

Usually when reading about Wolsey you only get, “he became ill and died the next day.” This week I was reading a biography of Jane Boleyn (Anne’s sister-in-law) and within that book, I found that Jane had heard of Wolsey’s arrest with the report “he passed above fifty stools in twenty-four hours, all of them wondrous black.” Black Friday, indeed. More like "scared shitless." (I made a calendar for 1530. He died on a Monday.) Wolsey was buried at Leicester Abbey where he had fallen ill; the abbey now nothing more than a trace of foundation in the grass. Archaeological teams have been digging at the Abbey recently, so maybe they’ll find old Thomas with other bits of shard.

Tudor Chamber Pots

**Employment Opportunity: Groom of the Stool ** Attention all ambitious workyers. Following the untimely death of Henry Norris, a new groom of the stool is required by Henry VIII. The primary duty is to “see the house of easement be sweet and clear.” In playnspeake: to clean the royal rear and privy. This coveted position is for someone looking for an opening, for whom no job is to too big or small. No one else will be so often alone with His Royal Highness. Although you will be dealing with Nymber Two, you will be with Nymber One in the privy chamber.

A Favorite Dysshe of the King

Putte you two slyces of ye beste whyte brede into hot coals. Flatten a bynanner in a fayre bowle until soft. Pound a goodly measure of choycest nuts into a fyne paste. Take up the bread from the hot coals before it can browne. Spread the nut paste thicke on one brede, and take the flattened bynanner and spread hem thicke on the second. Take 2 knobs of ye beste butter and spread welle on the outer partes of the bread. Hold brede over the hot coals, oon a longe stycke, until the outermost parte is a fulsome browne.

A Throne To Die For

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Monday, November 17, 2008

We're Off To See The Colonel

Barack rack rack rack

Over the weekend I watched Over the Rainbow again. I couldn't even begin to list how many times I've seen The Wizard of Oz. I do remember a Washington theatre (no longer in existence) was playing it when I was very small. I was probably about age three or four and went with my mother to an afternoon matinee. I was puzzled how the film went from sepia black and white to color, I remember being afraid of the tornado, but then we were having more serious hurricanes in Washington in those days, so I had knowledge of "a dangerous storm."

There still is a lot to be found disturbing in Oz: the wicked witch, flying houses, flying monkeys, Munchkins that look like the school bully, Butch (and back then, that would have meant "boy.") The holographic head, the haunted forest, even falling in the hog sty. My grandmother had hogs, and I knew them to be mean creatures, so I always wondered why Dorothy, a farm girl, would do something as foolhardy as walk the fence line above them. Shades of Hannibal.

A "Ben's Chili Dog" Kinda Girl

I still wonder why Dorothy, a girl raised in an area known for tornados, would come home and immediately run in the house, with the toronado funnel clearly visible and not think to run to the storm cellar first. But I quibble. There are so many things to nitpit and glom onto. I know when Glinda appears, my eye aways hits first on her Bakelite crown. On this viewing, I was thinking "Billie Burke is too old to wear her hair that long and what a cheap wig." Billie was born Mary William Ethelbert Appleton Burke on August 7, 1885, in Washington, D.C., by the way. I didn't know that until writing this piece. I always assumed she was British with that plummey stage voice of hers.

Is Everybody Lit?

I come by this critical eye honestly. My mother could not watch a television show without commenting, "She's wearing contacts. Look at how much she's blinking. And dismissing Dan Rowan, "He's a drunk. Look at that nose." A lot of actors had "that nose." She had an aversion to alcoholics and drunks in general, based in large part on the yard parties at my paternal grandmother's house that seem, in memory, like the Kentucky Derby played in a very minor key. A lot of "Give me some sugah" (meaning a hug) and hitting the punch table too vigorously. When my mother died, I inherited her punch bowl with eighty cups. Those 80 cups say it all.

I remember one summer a high living rake of an uncle roaring into my grandmother's backyard with his newest Cadillac and newest wife. Him with a diamond pinkie ring. Her in mink. In August. I take it back. It was the yard scene in the book Auntie Mame, when Mame goes to meet Beauregard's kin, and the dyspeptic old mother is still fighting the Civil War and the hunting dogs are called "Cousin Moltrie." I always identified strongly with that scene. My cousins and I the Greek chorus off to the side saying "That Sally Cato MacDougall is the meanest bitch in the county."

In truth, MGM always kept Judy fed....

on chicken broth and amphetamines

Forgive my Proustian drift. We were discussing The Wizard of Oz. So like you, I have seen the movie so many times I can't remember. Dorothy is walking the rail and falls into the pig sty. Bert Lahr hauls her out. Then this whole scene I have never given attention to appeared. Auntie Em enters the yard, barn left, with a plate of fried chicken. Maybe I always assumed it was cookies. She tells the workers they have to keep their strength up, gives them chicken, gives Dorothy chicken, and tells her to go play in traffic (not really, but tells her to get out of the way and not be a bother.) Dorothy wanders off with her chicken leg and tosses a tiny piece to Toto. The next thing you know she's over by the haystacks and wheel, cue to orchestra, and she's belting out Over the Rainbow, only this time I'm thinking, "What happened to the chicken?"

"I'll give ya extra crispy."

Lots of movies have actors do their scenes with food. You can't play Henry VIII without waving around a turkey drumstick, and Tom Jones has a famous food scene. I started thinking about how truly screwed up it would have been if Judy Garland had sang Over the Rainbow holding a drumstick. Not too long ago, TCM showed James Cagney in White Heat (you have GOT to see it) and there is plenty of food in that movie, too. He pushes a grapefruit in his wife's face, and he blasts a guy holding....a chicken drumstick.

Are you feeling lucky, punk? Original or spicey?

I started thinking about poultry in film, and I found this recent quote by Clint Eastwood in reference to Cagney and the White Heat film, "When he comes out in White Heat eating a chicken leg and blasting a guy in the trunk of a car, you go, 'Yeah, that's offsetting, but in a nice way.' The scene in Dirty Harry where I'm eating a hot dog in that shootout...that's a steal.''

“If a mans gonna eat fried chicken, he's gotta get greasy.”

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

I Guess It's A Write In

I Know I'm Supposed To Do Something Today...

Things To Do:
1) Build a War Chest
2) Lose
3) Open Off-Shore Account

An Active Lawyer, A Civic Leader, An Avid Bowler

I found this in a used book this week. For some reason it tickles me. He looks pretty crapped out. Is it the bags under the eyes?

I Googled him. Holy shit, he's still alive and a lawyer in Oxon Hill, Maryland. He hasn't served in office since 1970. Can we write him in? Is it too late? Maybe you have a personal injury claim you'd like to take up?

The only Xavier ticket I'm punching is this one:

2009: Rhumba Party

The Coochie Coochie Platform

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