1877

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Shrek! It's Swan Lake

The Russian composer, Tchaikovsky, has scored a hit. It's not just another chick-ballet. It's Swan Lake. The story surrounds Princess Odette who is turned into a swan by an evil sorcerer. She is cursed to remain a beautiful swan by day, and take her true form at night. (Wait. This sounds like the plot for Shrek!) Her only hope is Prince Siegfried who must break the spell with his true love. (It IS Shrek! Those turkeys!) Swan Lake has parallels in several folks tales where the young Princess does not listen to the warnings of her Prince, and is turned into a duck or a swan by a witch. The witch then disguises herself as the Princess until the Prince discovers the deception. In Swan Lake, the ending is tragic. (Spoiler alert! This ballet has been remade into a major motion picture, "Black Swan" (2010) starring Natalie Portman so if you don't know how this all ends, it's not as if society hasn't been hitting you over the head with it, over and over again.) The evil sorcerer tricks the Prince into believing that Princess Odile is really Princess Odette. It's "the bride switch!" as old as the Bible. Odette is betrayed ... and lost. She casts herself into the lake of tears. Prince Siegfried jumps in after her. But some good comes from Odette's sacrifice. The sorcerer's power is broken and the other swans under his spell are freed. The musical themes introduced in the ballet will be repeated in various forms into the modern day and the story of Swan Lake will be remade into popular movies, TV shows, video games and a couple of hilarious skits on Saturday Night Live. [1] [2] [3] [4]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Swan Lake is visually interesting even to a philistine like I... am. (Did I say that right?) I recognize several musical themes such as the Four Swans and when Odette forgives the Prince. Swan Lake had a reasonable first run but it wasn't an instant hit. It comes down to us with modifications that were contemplated by the composer and approved by his surviving relatives. The Harry Potter movies contain some of the lilting elements of Swan Lake. That is my opinion and no one else. However, music experts have noted that the Harry Potter music harkens back to traditional musical themes... meaning that it sounds old in a GOOD way. Swan Lake was turned into a Japanese anime series entitled "Princess Tutu." In this series, a duck is turned into a Princess. Her rival for the love of the Prince is a raven. It is endlessly cute and remarkably beautiful as they mix elements of Swan Lake with several popular ballets in 26 episodes. It is worth watching by kids and adults alike. Barbie's Swan Lake? Not so much. [5] [6]

The Long Surrender of the South

The election of Republican Rutherford B. Hayes as President marks the end of Reconstruction as he sells his soul in the Compromise of 1877. (It didn't take long. Did it?) The Presidential election has ended in a stalemate in the electoral college with the Democrat candidate holding the majority of the popular vote. To break the log jam, Hayes makes a number of informal promises to the Southern Democrats. He will remove all Federal troops from the Southern States, appoint a Southern Democrat to his Cabinet, and support the Southern transcontinental railroad plans of the Texas and Pacific. (The T&P will merge with the Missouri Pacific Railroad later on.) Hayes also promises to promote industry in the South. Since these promises are informal, they are not enforceable. (Most of these things would have occurred anyway, so why do I feel so dirty?) Hayes appoints a Southerner as Postmaster General and removes Federal troops. Southern Pacific Railroad will block the Texas and Pacific plan. Hayes will not object too much. His hands are full with the current Railroad Strike. B&O Railroad has cut the pay of its workers for a 3rd time as the world economy continues on its death spiral. Hayes sends Federal Troops to quell the riots. The result will be a deeply felt need for unions and a conviction that the surrender of the South is not yet over. [7] [8] [9]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Federal forces were in the South to put down any reorganization of Confederate troops and to facilitate a change in the South's state governments. Removal of Federal troops might seem like a betrayal of the ex-slaves still living in the South, but the Federal occupation had to come to an end some time. President Grant had already removed the troops from Florida. Unless everyone wanted a dictatorship, it was going to happen. The real danger of the South was their attitude that the better man had lost the war... morally speaking. I think they were full of it, but you cannot change that kind of attitude at the point of a gun unless you are willing to shoot them all. Even then, historically speaking, shooting all the rebels has never worked. Their sons remember and quietly plan their revenge unless you can convince them that shooting their fathers was a reasonable thing to do. Good luck with that one. Probably the only thing the Union might have done to mitigate the withdrawal of troops would have been to make gun control illegal. That would have allowed ex-slaves to defend themselves effectively. I think that government control over bazookas is probably a good idea, but if the government cannot tell the difference between male and female any more, they sure shouldn't be giving me lessons on what an assault rifle is vs a hunting rifle or how many bullets are "too many." [10]

Congress is Off to the Races

Horse races. On October 24th, 1877, the United States House of Representatives adjourns early to attend the races in Baltimore. Coincidentally, the Senate adjourned yesterday. The Great Sweepstakes is the race of the century! The very suggestion that this race represents the battle between North and South, slave and free, vile Republican vs evil Democrat is ridiculous! It's just some friendly rivalry and time for some old-fashioned fun. But with the election of a Republican President in a backroom deal, the Kentucky Democrats have vowed revenge. If this is the revenge, I say, we're off to the races. Running for Kentucky is one of the greatest horses of all time. His name is "Ten Brook" as the song will go. The others are from New Jersey and New York respectively: Parole and Tom Ochiltree. Parole is a light strider but not good off the mark. Ochiltree is massive and is not expected to win against Ten Brooks. It is a beautiful day with a fair track at Pimlico. People are showing up early. The stakes are high. The purse is $2000 but with the side-buy-in its more like $10,000. (In modern dollars that is anywhere from a quarter-million to a million and a half.) As "Ten Brook" steps out, the crowd roars. He is the favorite to win. All the experts say so... a sure thing. You had better get Grandpa's heart medicine ready because the "favorite" is going to place second. Parole will win by 5 lengths and going away. The South's chance to rise again is foiled... for now. [11] [12] [13]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
I am reminded of that scene from the movie "M.A.S.H." when the General is trying to convince the Colonel that they ought to arrange a friendly football game.... (FYI, Don't watch this movie unless you are at least 40 years old, married, deaf, dumb and blind.)
General: Henry, If we had closer relations, we wouldn't have this misunderstanding. Right? Now that's where a football game would help between your outfit and mine.
Colonel: Football game?
General: Yeah, yeah. We put up a few bets. 5,000, maybe, and have a little fun. Special Services in Tokyo says its one of the best gimmicks we've got to keep the American Way of Life going here in Asia!
Colonel: Betting?
General: No! Football!
-- From the movie M.A.S.H, 1970. [14]

In Other News

  • Edison invents the phonograph. He records "Mary's Little Lamb" using tinfoil wrapped around a cylinder. It works the first time which worries him a little. [15] [16] [17]
  • Canals are observed on Mars. An Italian astronomer sketches Mars with connecting lines across the surface. Straight lines imply intelligent life. Don't they? [15] [18]
  • The Quaker Oats Man is trademarked. Henry Seymour chooses this symbol to represent his Mill because he believes Quakers represent purity. [19] [20] [21]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1877, Wikipedia.

See Also

References

  1. Black Swan (2010) - IMDb. imdb.com (2016). Retrieved on 23 September 2016. “A committed dancer wins the lead role in a production of Tchaikovsky's 'Swan Lake' only to find herself struggling to maintain her sanity.”
  2. Barbie of Swan Lake in English - YouTube (2016). Retrieved on 23 September 2016.
  3. Black Swan - Last Dance Scene ('I was perfect...') - YouTube (2016). Retrieved on 23 September 2016. “Black Swan”
  4. Swan Lake - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 23 September 2016. “Odette is distraught at Siegfried’s betrayal. The swan-maidens try to comfort her, but she is resigned to death. Siegfried returns to the lake and finds Odette. He makes a passionate apology. She forgives him and the pair reaffirm their love. Von Rothbart appears and insists that Siegfried fulfill his pledge to marry Odile, after which Odette will be transformed into a swan forever. Siegfried chooses to die alongside Odette and they leap into the lake. This breaks Von Rothbart's spell over the swan maidens, causing him to lose his power over them and he dies. In an apotheosis, the swan maidens watch as Siegfried and Odette ascend into the Heavens together, forever united in love.”
  5. Tchaikovsky - Swan Lake - four little swans - YouTube (2016). Retrieved on 23 September 2016. “Mariinsky Ballet”
  6. Princess Tutu theme song - YouTube (2016). Retrieved on 23 September 2016.
  7. Rutherford B. Hayes - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 23 September 2016. “In 1876, Hayes was elected president in one of the most contentious elections in national history. He lost the popular vote to Democrat Samuel J. Tilden but he won an intensely disputed electoral college vote after a Congressional commission awarded him twenty contested electoral votes. The result was the Compromise of 1877, in which the Democrats acquiesced to Hayes's election and Hayes ended all U.S. military involvement in Southern politics.”
  8. Compromise of 1877 - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 23 September 2016. “The compromise essentially stated that Southern Democrats would acknowledge Hayes as president, but only on the understanding that Republicans would meet certain demands. The following elements are generally said to be the points of the compromise:[3] The removal of all U.S. military forces from the former Confederate states. At the time, U.S. troops remained in only Louisiana, South Carolina, and Florida, but the Compromise completed their withdrawal from the region. The appointment of at least one Southern Democrat to Hayes' cabinet. (David M. Key of Tennessee was appointed as Postmaster General.) The construction of another transcontinental railroad using the Texas and Pacific in the South (this had been part of the 'Scott Plan,' proposed by Thomas A. Scott of the Pennsylvania Railroad; he had initiated negotiations resulting in the final compromise). Legislation to help industrialize the South and restore its economy following Reconstruction and the Civil War. In exchange, Democrats would accept the Republican Hayes as president by not employing the filibuster during the joint session of Congress needed to confirm the election.”
  9. Texas and Pacific Railway - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 23 September 2016. “October 15, 1976 - merged with the Missouri Pacific”
  10. Davis, Burke. Long Surrender, The. Random House. ISBN 0394520831. “Davis clung to hope of eventual victory with the fervor of a zealot, all the while torn by frustrations as his closest advisers urged his acceptance of the inevitable. The emotional roots of his inability to surrender had not been revealed, even to his most trusted aide, Harrison. But there was a day when Davis, his face wreathed with a cheerful smile, said impulsively to his secretary, “I cannot feel myself a beaten man!” It was as if the fate of the South were no longer a sectional or national issue, but had become for him a highly charged personal one, linked to attitudes formed during a lifetime. Davis might yet be forced to concede defeat for the South, but he could not conceive of his own.” 
  11. Shrager, Mark. The Great Sweepstakes of 1877: A True Story of Southern Grit, Gilded Age Tycoons, and a Race That Galvanized the Nation. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 9781493018895. 
  12. Molly and Tenbrooks - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 23 September 2016. “This song is a fictional account of the July 4, 1878 match race between the Kentucky horse Ten Broeck and the California mare Mollie McCarty at the Louisville Jockey Club (now Churchill Downs). Ten Broeck won the race before a record crowd of 30,000. The song commonly states that Ten Broeck 'was a big bay horse', and although he was a bay, he was 'very compactly built'. The song refers to a fatal outcome, which did not in fact occur; Mollie McCarty lived nearly five more years, winning multiple races and producing three foals.”
  13. Ten Broeck - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 23 September 2016. “Ten Broeck died in 1887 (the same year the great Kincsem of Hungary died) and is buried at Nantura Stock Farm (the farm was named by its owner, Uncle John Harper, for the dam of Longfellow) in Midway, Kentucky. According to the National Sporting Library, his headstone was the first ever erected for a Thoroughbred in the state of Kentucky. In 1982, Ten Broeck was inducted in the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.”
  14. MASH (1970) - IMDb (2016). Retrieved on 23 September 2016. “The staff of a Korean War field hospital use humor and hijinks to keep their sanity in the face of the horror of war.”
  15. 15.0 15.1 Grun, Bernard. The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events. Simon and Schuster, 436-437. 
  16. Tinfoil Phonograph - The Edison Papers. edison.rutgers.edu (2012). Retrieved on 22 September 2016. “The first phonograph consisted of grooved cylinder mounted on a long shaft with a screw pitch of ten threads per inch and turned by a hand crank. Instead of paraffined paper, Edison used a piece of tin foil wrapped around the cylinder as a recording surface. The first phonograph had separate recording and playback mechanisms, but later designs combined them into a single unit.”
  17. The Incredible Talking Machine - The Making of America: Thomas Edison - TIME (June 23, 2010). Retrieved on 22 September 2016. “But the primitive phonograph that Edison demonstrated for the editors of Scientific American that December remained exceedingly limited. It could clearly introduce itself — 'How do you do? How do you like the phonograph?' — but that exhausted its recording capacity.”
  18. Martian canal - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 22 September 2016. “Some people went so far as to propose the idea that the canals were irrigation canals built by a supposed intelligent civilization on Mars. Percival Lowell was a strong proponent of this view, pushing the idea much further than Schiaparelli, who for his part considered much of the detail on Lowell's drawings to be imaginary.”
  19. Quaker Mill Company - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 22 September 2016. “On 4 September 1877 Seymour trademarked the Quaker brand after reading an encyclopedia article on Quakers, who are officially called the Religious Society of Friends.”
  20. The Straight Dope: Is the guy on the Quaker Oats box John Penn?. straightdope.com (2016). Retrieved on 22 September 2016. “According to the folks at Quaker Oats, the Quaker Man was registered as a trademark on September 4, 1877 — the first U.S. trademark registered for a breakfast cereal. 'The name was chosen when Quaker Mill partner Henry Seymour found an encyclopedia article on Quakers and decided that the qualities described — integrity, honesty, purity — provided an appropriate identity for his company's oat product.'”
  21. Quaker Oats Company - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 22 September 2016. “Today, the company states that 'The 'Quaker man' does not represent an actual person. His image is that of a man dressed in Quaker garb, chosen because the Quaker faith projected the values of honesty, integrity, purity and strength.'”

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