Memes for a Monday

Something musical to start the week off:

After my old friend Gary lay for two hours hooked up like this, he got up and went home so he could get some sleep.

Seems to me that Brother O’Leary had the makings of a Jesuit!

For my niece Stephanie???

Reminds me of the first computer I ever worked on!

And here’s a cooking hack to help you in the kitchen this week.

And let’s end on a classical note:

The word for January 18th is:
Smidgin /ˈsmijin/: [informal noun]
A small amount of something.
id 19th century: perhaps from Scots smitch in the same sense.
And then of course you have your old jot and tittle.

Arm Chair Travel – Lisbon

The Pomp of Portugal – II

João V
Domenico Duprà – 1717
Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga

Unfortunately I could not find any record of the order of the procession for D. Rodgrio’s formal entry into Rome on July 8th, 1716. Nor could I find any details on the two lost triumph carriages or the ten accompanying vehicles. We can be sure that the attendants, postilions, coachmen and footmen would have been elaborately attired. Though of course the Ambassador, his family, retinue, and lesser mission officials would have outshone everyone in displaying the sophistication, magnificence and royal power of a king who at the time ruled over a vast empire.

As well as celebrating Lisbon the next carriage again was a reminder to everyone at the Holy See, and by extension in Europe, that Portugal was a principle defender of the faith.

The Coronation of Lisbon Carriage

All of the carriages were in the open-bodied Roman style with wood and iron body works. The trappings are leather, bronze, silk brocade, silk velvet, gold and silver threads, gold galloon, and rye straw. The allegorical woodwork sculptures in baroque style show traces of gilt highlights which suggest that perhaps like the Ocean Carriage it was gilded.

The velvet elevated coachman’s seat (no doubt stuffed with rye straw) oversees a cherub or guiding spirit who seems to be urging the horses on. The coachman is flanked by the allegory figures of Heroism and Immortality who are being garlanded by two cherubs.

I am guessing that the laurel crowned figure on the left is Heroism while the figure on the right wearing a crown much like what is given saints of the period is Immortality. I did search for attributes of these figures in baroque iconography but could find nothing concrete – or even gilt plaster!!!!

The body of the carriage is adorned with red silk velvet inlay with the embroidery on the door panel worked in brass and gold thread. The interior is upholstered in red silk with floral motifs in gold and silver thread.

On the drop-head of the rear wheel set, is the image of Lisbon crowned by Fame and Abundance. At Lisbon’s feet lay the symbols of the defeated Ottoman foe, and the conquered continents of Africa and Asia.

Given that the entire procession was meant as a glorification of João the question may arise why Lisbon is a woman? Simple explanation: in Portuguese Lisboa is a feminine noun. Abundance holds a cornucopia of fruit and flowers indicating the natural wealth of the country. As well as a coronet Fame bears the trumpet that will announce the glory of Lisbon to the Papal court and the watching world. And no Baroque carving would omit cherubs to wreath the scene with garlands.

The imperious Lisbon points her sceptre at a crescent moon being devoured by the winged dragon of the House of Braganza. And at her feet grovel the source of much of her wealth – Africa and Asia.

As splendid as this carriage was – and it does attest to the skill of the Italian wood carvers – there was one even more resplendent yet to come: the Ocean Carriage.

The word for January 15th is:
Galloon/ɡəˈlo͞on/: [noun]
A narrow ornamental strip of fabric, typically a silk braid or piece of lace, used to trim clothing or finish upholstery.
Early 17th century: from French galon, from galonner ‘to trim with braid’, of unknown ultimate origin.

Mercoledi Musicale

I had my first class of a ten week course on opera with my friend David Nice on Monday. The first five weeks are devoted to Beethoven’s only opera(s) – Leonore (1805) and its subsequent revision/reincarnation as what we know today as Fidelio (1814). It is a work that is definitely in my top ten list and I have been privileged to see several remarkable performances of it.

Now I may be wrong on this, and I hope David will correct me if I am, but though Beethoven revered Mozart he was not all that fond of his operas. However he did compose variations on music from Le Nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni and Zauberflöte. The Nozze variation was composed in 1793 when Beethoven was 22 years old and first living in Vienna. It is dedicated to Elenore von Breuning, one of his students, with whom, it is said, he was infatuated. The “tendresse” was not returned – as often seemed to be the case with poor Ludwig. However they were to remain friends.

Rather unusually Beethoven introduces the original theme – Figaro’s Act I aria Se vuol ballare – picked out in pizzicato by the violin with a very unassuming accompaniment by the piano. However what follows in the 12 variations is a challenge for both violinist and pianist.

In writing about the piece in 1794 Beethoven said:
‘I should never have written down this kind of piece, had I not already noticed fairly often how some people in Vienna after hearing me extemporize of an evening would note down on the following day several peculiarities of my style and palm them off with pride as their own. Well, as I foresaw that their pieces would soon be published, I resolved to forestall these people’.

The word for January 13th is:
Variation /ˌverēˈāSH(ə)n/: [noun]
1.1 A change or difference in condition, amount, or level, typically with certain limits.
1.2 A different or distinct form or version of something.
Late Middle English (denoting variance or conflict): from Old French, or from Latin variatio(n- ), from the verb variare.

Pandemic Poetry

A little ballad for the “interesting” times we live in.

The word for January 12th is:
Interesting /ˈint(ə)rəstiNG/: [adjective]
Arousing curiosity or interest; holding or catching the attention.
late Middle English (originally as interess ): from Anglo-Norman French interesse, from Latin interesse ‘differ, be important’, from inter- ‘between’ + esse ‘be’. The -t was added partly by association with Old French interest ‘damage, loss’, apparently from Latin interest ‘it is important.”

Lunedi Lunacy

Out of the blue the other day the gods of YouTube started featuring one of Bob Newhart’s old routines. And of course when you click on one they then bestow a myriad of clips that are “recommended just for you!” In some cases it bugs my butt for given my mood late the Newhart recommendations were more than welcome.

Newhart is one of the great comedians of the late 20th century (I say is because he is still performing at the age of 91) starting as a stand-up comedian then went on to become a well-regarded character actor with two extremely successful sit-coms to his credit. I loved him both a stand-up and in his TV persona.

His comedy was always low-keyed, intelligent, and based on everyday foibles and follies. He never used swear words and there was always an air of affection in his revelations.

Here’s one of his classic routines:

Amongst his “shtick” was the one side of a telephone call – but you could almost hear the person on the other end.

He appeared 24 times on the old Dean Martin show, 8 times on Ed Sullivan, and hosted a number of shows including Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show, Hollywood Palace as well as appearances on dramatic and comedy series.

Newhart was nominated nine times for an Emmy, only winning once in 2013; and in 1961 when he won the Peabody Award the citation said:

“a person whose gentle satire and wry and irreverent wit waft a breath of fresh and bracing air through the stale and stuffy electronic corridors. A merry marauder, who looks less like St. George than a choirboy, Newhart has wounded, if not slain, many of the dragons that stalk our society. In a troubled and apprehensive world, Newhart has proved once again that laughter is the best medicine.”

Just read that last sentence of the citation and you can understand why I greet the “recommendations” with a sense of joy!

The word for January 11th is:
Myriad /ˈmirēəd/: [1. noun 2. adjective]
1.1 A countless or extremely great number.
1.2 A unit of ten thousand (chiefly in classical history)
2. Countless or extremely great in number.
Mid 16th century (in myriad (sense 2 of the noun)): via late Latin from Greek murias, muriad-, from murioi ‘10,000’.
Thanks Mr Newhart – you’ve given me a myriad of laughs.