Unbelievably Mediocre Movies

The fare on films for our  bus trip to and from Georgetown DE was unbelievable.  Not having children myself, I guess I am not too aware of the awfully low standard for PG and G entertainment.  An IPhone and a mute button were necessary to endure the  sequel to the Dr Doolittle movies starring his daughter and some movie whose name has thankfully escaped me about a pack of kidnapped golden retrievers that end up in Alaska in a sled race (a bad remake of Snow Dogs without anyone the caliber of Cuba Gooding in it)
Just because there is no sex, nudity, bad language, violence and gore does not automatically require the omission of character development, story, and acting above the caliber of ‘find your mark and say your line”.  

Passed 20 Year Milestone at DTCC

Twenty or so commencement ceremonies, and nearly as many collegewide end of year fests that are now called Employee Appreciation Day.  Somewhat amazing considering I took the job on a temporary basis intially, and I had never worked anywhere longer than two and a half years previously.  Today was a day long cheer-fest of how great everyone is.  When one considers that the achievements are real and substantive, perhaps the prolixity and intensity of the positive spin of this event can be forgiven.  Some.  It finally doesn’t bother me that I have evolved so much that I don’t really feel that I “fit in” anymore.  Our fearless leader continually refers to us as the “Delaware Tech family”.  If so than I am like a flamboyant transvestite drama queen of the family, who never feels truly herself when toning herself down in order to fly under the radar of the family’s conservatism.  I guess diversity and creativity are OK as long as the result isn’t too “different”.  

39th Annual Commencement

It has probably been longer than ten years since Pat Ciarrocchi was our Commencement Speaker, so it has been quite awhile since the speaker was quite memorable.  However, tonight Dr. Tony Allen, an executive with the Bank of America (formerly MBNA) has set the bar higher.  I was pleased to see a young community leader who had managed to rise to the top in the banking business, but hadn’t needed to obliterate obvious characteristics of his culture of origin.  

He made all of us affirm the following – vociferously and repeatedly:

I am the Voice
I will lead, not follow
I will create, not destroy 
I am a force for good
I am a force for peace
I will xxx xxx xxx
Defy the odds
Set a new standard
Step up
Step Up
Step UP

Soft Snuffling Downy Love

One treasure of insomnia is that I can be a silent spy in the sleeping wonderworld of the other breathing beings in my household.  Surrounded by their soft snuffling snorkeling sleep, I feel a gentle soundscape draw over me like the downiest of comforters.  A little cat cuddles at my foot.  I am connected to all that I hold most dear.  Where IS that Catzilla?

Museums and Musings

Friday I took a bus trip to New York City.  As it was a miserable rainy day, which left me abed with a pounding headache and sore throat the day after, it was not much a day for tripping the light fantastic, or meandering hither and thither in the great metropolis.  I chose to use my cheap roundtrip travel as an opportunity to visit the places I usually wish to go to, but never get to – those museums on “museum mile” on the upper east side.  There was no grand plan, but as the skies never cleared, I took a visit to the Museum of the City of New York, the Cooper-Hewitt, and the Whitney.  It has been decades since I visited the Whitney, and a good long while since I’ve been to the Cooper-Hewitt, and my first visit to the MCNY.  My husband is wishing now for the more upscale briefcase versus his usual backpack – as he was required to check it at all locations.  

The exhibits at the Museum of the City of New York were interesting even if the museum attendants/security were a tad lacking in politesse.  I was chastised for making notes on my iPhone – “No cell phones allowed”.  The phone itself was on silent – but this little device is more than a phone,  I was making notations of stuff.  The doll houses were spectacular – little time capsules of life in a bygone era.

Stettheimer Dollhouse

New York Toy Stories
Stettheimer dollhouse (front view) 1916-1945
Museum of the City of New York, gift of Miss Ettie Stettheimer

 I found these as interesting as the exhibits of “New York Interiors 1690-1906”.  The Dutch influence of ceramic tiles lining the edges of fireplaces didn’t become “unfashionable” until the 19th century.  
Museum City of New York 


New York Interiors (1690-1906)

A New York interior in the Dutch tradition, c. 1690 

Museum of the City of New York, gift of the Women’s Committee


There was an exhibit about the theater in NYC, which was interesting but it could have used more exhibit space.  I was hoping for an exhibit of their antique clothes but had to satisfy myself with about two dozen postcards in the bookstore.  

Next stop was the Whitney, which was having its 2008 Biennial.  I could relate a lot to the artists, like Ruben Ochoa and Phoebe Washburn, and was thrilled that such work was being given exhibit space.  I commented to my husband that some of these pieces made my little outdoor “tree” seem relatively tame.

Phoebe washburn

“It Makes for My Millionaire Status” – installation Feuer Gallery Los Angeles 2005 – Phoebe Washburn.  Javier Tellez’ “Letter on the Blind For Those Who Can See” (2007) was a video of the proverbial blind man interacting tactilely with an elephant and discussing the experience.  The visual aspect was as arresting as the suspense in wondering what the commentary would be.  I have pause to consider that the only difference between them and myself, is that they are working and I am not, much.  Sigh.

When I entered the “Rococo: The Continuing Curve, 1730–2008” exhibit at the Cooper-Hewitt I thought I had died and gone to heaven.  I don’t know why I always dither about buying exhibition catalogues.  Everytime I don’t, I regret it.  Like this time.  From the drawings and video of the ironwork of Jean Lamour, to contemporary work that utilizes the curve as its construction, such as the fabulous “Cinderella table” of Jerven Verhoeven, the exhibit was a treat for the eyes and the soul.  I could have stayed and sketched for days.  

cinderella table jerven verhoeven



Cinderella Table
Jeroen Verhoeven (Dutch, b. 1976)
Made by Demakersvan
The Netherlands, 2004
Birch plywood
The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Gift of Marie-Josée Kravis in honor of Patricia Phelps de Cisneros 


Capital Punishment in the Tudor Eras

I have gotten curious about the use of the royal prerogative in ordering executions.   Henry VII executed at least seven people for treason, primarily as they disputed his right to the English throne.  One pretender to the throne, Edward Plantagenet 17th earl of Warwick and 7th Earl of Salisbury, was imprisoned in the tower.  He was executed after trying to escape.  Perhaps a more concrete charge, than treason which could anger potential supporters.   

 Henry VIII was rather mercurial in his moods, and after the Act of Supremacy, he had absolute power.  Prior to the Act, executions were focused on challenges to his throne (at least 5) and the executions of Lutheran-leaning heretics (6).  There was also Elizabeth Barton, the Holy Maid of Kent, who prophesied death for King Henry if he was to marry Anne Boleyn.  She was executed along with at least one of her supporters.   The Exeter conspiracy and other insubstantial treason charges claimed 5 more.

The Act of Supremacy began nearly a century of executions based on religious beliefs.  Over 20 Catholic priests and monks were executed because they refused to take the Oath of Supremacy acknowledging the King as the head of the Church, most notably John Cardinal Fisher.  There is a record of one monk being executed because he opposed the dissolution of the monasteries, and refused to surrender Church property to the Crown.  Sir Thomas More is the most famous layperson executed for refusing the Oath.  The four leaders of the Pilgrimage of Grace, the popular uprising in York opposing the Act, were also executed.  One wonders about the record on ordinary citizens.  Perhaps the Crown was not much interested, unless one supported a treasonous cause, or was a prominent person like More.   An ordinary person was adrift in a sea of chaos.  Knowing what was the “correct” doctrine of the day, would depend upon how “correct” your clergyman or priest was, and keeping abreast of the changes in Royal opinion.  When the shift in doctrine veered back towards traditional Catholicism with the Six Articles, there is record of 3 laypersons being executed because they would not accept transubstantiation.    It was not good to be too Catholic, or too Lutheran-leaning.  There is a record of 3 people being executed at various times in Henry’s reign because they were essentially “too Protestant”.   And then there is the lone exception – of Thomas Fiennes, Baron Dacre, who was executed for murder.

Edward VI did not live long enough to deliver a voluminous quantity of death sentences.  There were the Seymours who eventually gained enough enemies to be executed for treason, even though they enjoyed positions of great power in Edward’s Court.  The issuing the book of Common Prayer was the last straw for some of the long suffering English faithful, and they arose is opposition in the Prayer Book Rebellion.   At least 8 were executed in connection with this rebellion, but it should be noted that over 5000 citizens were slain in the battles and violent reprisals.  Robert Kett was also executed for treason.  There is also Joan Bocher who was executed for her heretical Anabaptist views. 

Queen Mary has been given the moniker “Bloody Mary”, but in comparison to her sister, Elizabeth, this judgement is unfair.  History is written by the victors, after all, and our impressions of Queen Mary have been overly influenced by the writers of the Elizabethan era.  Her reign began with the executions for treason (3) for those involved with putting Lady Jane Grey on the throne for less than a fortnight, for those in Wyatt’s rebellion (2).  There were about 50 “Marian martyrs” who were burned at Smithfield for their Protestant beliefs.  There were at least five prominent Anglican clergy who met their end under her reign, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer who started it all and at least seven other clergy. 

Elizabeth I is not commonly considered a tyrant, but she was in a delicate position.  The Pope in Rome had declared her essentially a “pretender” to the throne as she was considered illegitimate by the Holy See.  To be loyal to the Pope was to be opposed to her rule.  After it became a capital offense to be a Catholic priest in England, the stage was set to root out papal supporters in England.  Almost four dozen Catholic priests were executed during Elizabeth’s reign and over twenty people were executed for either succoring priests, having or printing Catholic books or practicing Roman Catholicism.  There were those executed in relation to the “Irish troubles” (at least 3), and those for political treason in the Babington plot (6) including its centerpiece, Mary Queen of Scots, and those who supported Robert Devereaux the 2nd Earl of Essex (3).

After the experience of such history, and the bloodbath of the English Revolution, which was the seventeenth century reprise of religious based strife, it is little wonder that the thinkers of the eighteenth century were so fervent about the support of, as John Adams put it “the rule of law not the rule of men”. 

Note: this is by no means an accurate count of Tudor executions.  it is only the summary of my curiosity and collection of information.