No More Original Sound


One of my favorite movies, so was interested to hear this:

Maria Franziska von Trapp, the last surviving sibling of seven brothers and sisters who were portrayed in the Broadway musical and the film “The Sound of Music,” died on Tuesday at her home in Stowe, Vt. She was 99.

Her death was confirmed by her half-brother, Johannes von Trapp.

She was the third oldest child of seven born to Baron Georg von Trapp and his first wife, Agathe, who died of scarlet fever. The 1965 film was based on the real story of how the baron fell in love with the children’s governess, also named Maria, and the family toured together as a choir.

Ms. von Trapp was the reason the governess came to work for the family — she needed a tutor at home because she also had scarlet fever and was too ill to walk to school. After her father married the governess in 1927, they had three children together.

In the film, which starred Julie Andrews as the governess (Mary Martin played the role on Broadway), Ms. von Trapp was named Louisa and was played by Heather Menzies. Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote the score.

She and her siblings learned to play musical instruments at a young age, Ms. von Trapp wrote in an essay on the family’s website. “Sometimes our house must have sounded like a musical conservatory,” she wrote. “You could hear us practice piano, violin, guitar, cello, clarinet, accordion, and later, recorders.”

The family fled Nazi-occupied Austria and performed across Europe and the United States. They eventually settled in Stowe, where they bought a 660-acre farm that they later turned into a ski lodge.

The film was based on a book published in 1949 by the elder Maria von Trapp, who died in 1987. She had praised the film for truthfully showing her life story.

But the younger Ms. von Trapp told Reuters in 2008 that she and her siblings were shocked that the movie portrayed their father as strict and obsessed with discipline. He was “so completely different,” she said and “always looked after us a lot, especially after our mother died.”

She said on the family website that the movie was a musical and was “never meant to be a documentary about our life.”

Maria Franziska von Trapp was born on Sept. 28, 1914 in Zell am See, Austria. In addition to touring with the family choir, she worked as a lay missionary in Papua New Guinea. She adopted a son, Kikuli Mwanukuzi, after meeting him there. She eventually moved back to Vermont to be close to family.

She is survived by her son and three half-siblings: Mr. von Trapp, Rosmarie Trapp and Eleonore von Trapp Campbell.

In 2008, Ms. von Trapp traveled to Salzburg, Austria, to visit her family’s villa when it opened to the public for the first time as a hotel and museum. The family had lived there for more than a decade until the Nazis confiscated it in 1939.

She told Reuters that returning to the home had been an emotional experience.

“Our whole life is in here, in this house,” she said. “Especially here in the stairwell, where we always used to slide down the railings.”

NY Times, February 23,2014


Historical Accuracy in Downton



I found this article and thought I would pass it along-very interesting!

Historical accuracy can be tricky to discuss in terms of a period drama, so perhaps “credibility” is a better word. But semantics aside, there are a few aspects of “Downton Abbey” Season 4, that raise some questions, as the period drama attempts to tackle such issues as rape and unwanted childbirth. Huff Post TV spoke to a few historians to get an idea how closely the plot resembles Britain in the 1920s. Here’s what we found:

Lady Mary’s excessive period of mourning was at least unusual.
University of Leeds historian Dr. Jessica Meyer noted that Mary’s behavior was definitely anachronistic, “harking back to Victorian practices which had gone out of style in the years preceding the First World War.” Her drawn out impression of a wayward ghost would have been more realistic prior to “criticism of Victoria whose prolonged withdrawal from public life following Albert’s death was seen as harmful to British international prestige and influence,” says Meyer. Dr. Peter Mandler of the University of Cambridge agreed that “Victorian mourning practices [were] in this period being dumped overboard,” adding that, “Remarriage was always acceptable, and quite common.”

And she would have had more power over the estate than Lord Grantham lets on.
Although the laws of guardianship were in flux at the time, Meyer notes that Mary would “wield more power as mother of the heir, with legal rights of guardianship, than daughter to Lord Grantham, with the estate entailed away from her.” It all depends upon the way in which the estate is entailed. As for Matthew’s will, “if his entail provided for an allowance for Mary, she would probably lose it on remarriage.”

Anna would have been at much greater risk of being assaulted by the upstairs folk.
When the now-infamous rape episode aired in the U.K., it sparked discussion of whether the scene was necessary, to which creator Julian Fellowes responded it was a historical reality. He’s not entirely wrong, but Anna would have been in much more danger of being violated by one of her superiors. Julia Laite, an historian from Birkbeck, University of London, explained that the concept of the “ruined maid” was quite pervasive at the time. Perhaps the most common version of sexual harassment involved “women who were seduced by their masters, convinced into have consensual sex.”

And she would have had a solid case, if she chose to go to the police.
To be fair, it seems that Anna primarily chooses to avoid police involvement because she is fearful of Bates’ reaction. It is interesting to note that if the rape were to be taken to a court of law, she would have a fantastic case. According to Laite, many rape cases were judged based on behavior. Anna would face no scrutiny in this regard, because her beloved position in the Crawley estate would lend her many character witnesses.

Edith and Michael’s marriage scheme makes sense, though she’d be required to become a German citizen.
Men could not divorce women for reason of incurable insanity and women could only divorce their husbands, if they were able to prove they had been excessively beaten. Laite said that it would not have been until the Matrimonial Causes Act of 1937 that things like adultery would be grounds for divorce. Unlike British civil code, German law did allow for divorce on the grounds of incurable insanity, however, it would have required both Michael and Edith to become German citizens, which is a important issue considering the prominence of nationalism at the time.


Although the London train ticket wouldn’t be enough to convict Bates, it could have potentially raised a case against him.
Lady and Mrs. Hughes spend quite a bit of time deliberating what they ought to do with the London train ticket found in Bates’ coat pocket, and their reactions are not overly dramatized. They suspect that he is lying about his trip to London because he is responsible for Mr. Green’s mysterious death — he was pushed into the street. Mandler says the key point is that “Bates denied he had been in London that day. So the ticket is prima facie evidence that he is lying — and then this does raise further suspicion.” Laite notes that thought it might not have been enough to convict him, it would have been enough to raise him as a suspect.

Generally speaking, servants are far too close with the folks upstairs.
”The relationship they have with their employers is totally wrong,” historian Jennifer Newby told The Telegraph. “There was one butler who said that even if in a moment of weakness an employer could ask for advice they wouldn’t give it because it could be held against them” — an observation which paints a far different picture from the cavorting we’ve seen across the series.

Also, in real life, they would have been, like, really dirty.
”The servants in the program are far too clean,” Newby said. “The reality would have been a lot more grubby, I don’t think people realize that the servants stank.”

American Gold at Sochi in Ice Dance


I stayed up to watch this-they were absolutely incredible and mesmerizing!

Meryl Davis and Charlie White won the ice dance gold medal Monday, the first Olympic title in the event for the United States.

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada, the 2010 champions, took silver. Russia’s Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov captured bronze.

The Americans, the reigning world champs, scored 116.63 points in the free dance to finish with 195.52, 4.53 ahead of Virtue and Moir.

When the music from “Sheherazade” ended with White on a knee, Davis rested her head on his back in exhausted elation. The two started skating together in 1997 in Michigan, and on the biggest day of their career, they were nearly flawless.

“That in itself justified 17 years of hard work,” White, 26, said.

As they told the story of the Persian king and the woman who enchants him, White was regal in purple velvet, Davis beguiling in a lavender dress with jewels shimmering on her midriff.

They now have one medal of each color after winning bronze in the new team event in Sochi.

excerpts from CBS news

The Tonight Show Today

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I have special feelings for the Tonight Show as when it was filmed in NYC and the host was Johnny Carson -Ed McMahon and Doc Severinsen lived in my hometown of Larchmont and even went to my church. My Dad also looked a lot like Johnny Carson and if someone asked for an autograph as he was walking to work in NYC, he would say “do you think  I am Johnny Carson?” and if they said yes he would sign! Tonight will be the premiere of Jimmy Fallon as host.It is scheduled to make its debut tonight, on Monday, February 17, 2014, following Jay Leno’s second retirement as host ofThe Tonight Show on February 6, and will be the seventh incarnation of the franchise.

The show is to be broadcast from Studio 6B at NBC Studios in New York City, the same studio whereJack Paar hosted The Tonight Show throughout his tenure and where Johnny Carson hosted The Tonight Show from 1962 to 1972 before moving the show to Burbank. The show is being produced by former Daily Show executive producer Josh Lieb and executive produced by Lorne Michaels. Fallon’s house band on Late Night, The Roots, will serve as The Tonight Show Band, with Questlove serving as  bandleader.Steve  Higgins will follow Fallon to The Tonight Show to serve as Fallon’s announcer and sidekick.

On April 3, 2013, NBC announced that Jay Leno will retire in 2014, with Jimmy Fallon taking over The Tonight Show beginning on February 24, 2014. At Leno’s suggestion, the date was moved forward by one week to February 17, 2014 to use NBC’s coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympics as a springboard for Fallon’s tenure. The date was later moved up a week to February 17, midway through the Olympics.

NBC spent approximately $5 million renovating Studio 6B, where Fallon had been taping Late Night, for The Tonight’s show return to New York City. On September 3, 2013, Late Night moved to Studio 6A, built as an exact replica of Studio 6B. The upgraded 6B is expected to have a new look and infrastructure and will be able to seat 240 people, up from 189.The larger audience also meant NBC could take advantage of a newly enacted New York state tax credit for talk shows that are “filmed before a studio audience of at least 200, as long as they carry a production budget of at least $30 million and have been shot outside New York for at least five seasons.”

The Beatles 50 years later….



On Feb. 9, 1964, a little band called the Beatles performed for the first time on “Ed Sullivan.” It was a rilly big shew, as Ed used to say, and it’s not even slightly hyperbolic to say that it changed pop culture forever. Half a century later, the effects of that one monumental night are still being felt.


And roughly half a century later, on Jan. 27, the Recording Academy hosted “The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute To The Beatles” at the Los Angeles Convention Center, making full use of the all-stars in town from the previous night’s Grammy Awards, including surviving Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr themselves. The concert aired on this past Sunday — exactly 50 years to the day, date, and time of the Fab Four’s original “Ed Sullivan Show” appearance — on Sullivan’s old network, CBS.

“We’re not really trying to recreate that night; all we can do is celebrate it,” explained Grammys producer Ken Ehrlich at the start of the historical concert, before a rotating cast of very different A-list artists, all united by their love for the Beatles, took the stage with very different results.

Among the best tributes of the night were the reunited Eurythmics doing “Fool on the Hill,” with Annie Lennox, resplendent in a floor-sweeping bronze ball gown, delivering a theatrical and borderline-unhinged performance; piano soul stylists Alicia Keys and John Legend teaming up for a positively stunning “Let It Be”; Stevie Wonder, perfectionist that he is, running through two attempts at a funky remake of “We Can Work It Out”; George Harrison’s onetime Traveling Wilburys crony Jeff Lynne and Eagles’s Joe Walsh joining George’s son Dhani for a lovely cover of “Something,” while George’s widow Olivia beamed in the audience; and another George tribute, an absolutely incendiary “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” by Joe Walsh and Gary Clark Jr., with the Foo Fighters’s Dave Grohl on drums.

excerpts from article by Lyndsay Parker, Yahoo Music


The Sleepwalker at Wellesley College



This statue is causing quite a stir at Wellesley College!


The statue is part of a Wellesley art gallery show by the sculptor Tony Matelli and was placed on campus by the college’s Davis Museum staff. “We placed the Sleepwalker on the roadside just beyond the Davis [museum] to connect the exhibition — within the museum — to the campus world beyond,” Davis Museum director Lisa Fischman wrote in an open letter.


Students say that “Sleepwalker” is inappropriate for an all-women’s campus, and may inadvertently trigger fears of sexual assault. More than 250 people have signed a petition to remove the statue, which reads:

The statue of the nearly naked man on the Wellesley College campus is an entirely inappropriate and potentially harmful addition to our community that we, as members of the student body, would like removed immediately … this highly lifelike sculpture has, within just a few hours of its outdoor installation, become a source of apprehension, fear, and triggering thoughts regarding sexual assault for many members of our campus community. While it may appear humorous, or thought-provoking to some, it has already become a source of undue stress for many Wellesley College students, the majority of whom live, study, and work in this space.

According to the Globe, “Many students were seen making a casual beeline for the new addition on campus — some smiled and laughed as they got closer; others frowned and seemed apprehensive.” Additionally, the Globe reports, “many drivers could be seen slamming on their brakes as they approached or passed the statue, craning their necks for a second look.”


excerpts from Boston Globe February 5,2014

The Olympics in Sochi!

A dear friend’s relative is actually IN the Olympics (!!! ) and is on the Freestyle Ski Team. I have had fun learning about all of the freestyle and the different events,and how they score them.

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This is from the official Olympics website:

The Olympic freestyle events include mogul skiing, aerials, ski cross, ski halfpipe, and ski slopestyle. Ski halfpipe and ski slopestyle were added to the Olympics in 2011. Both men and women participate in each type of event. A total of ten sets of medals are awarded for freestyle.

The mogul event is a descent down a bumpy slope. Athletes are required to perform two jumps on their way through the course. The competitors receiving the highest score for their overall performance are declared the winners. Scores are determined by judges who evaluate how well the moguls are navigated and the quality and difficulty of the jumps. Judges also add points for speed according to a special formula.

The aerials event includes a qualifying round and a final round. In each, athletes complete two special ski jumps each. The athletes with the highest combined scores from the two jumps advance to the finals. Scores from the qualifying round do not carry over to the finals. For each jump, athletes are judged on their technique for jump takeoff, jump form, and landing.

The ski cross event includes a qualifying round and a final round. In the qualifying round, athletes race individually down a course approximately 1000 meters long with turns and obstacles. The athletes with the best times are then divided into groups of four and compete to determine who advances to the next round of competition. The two top finishers continue to compete, while the losers are eliminated. Athletes reaching the final round compete for the medals.

Ski halfpipe. Athletes perform on a halfpipe slope on freestyle skis, performing various tricks — somersaults, flips, grabs, and twists. The competition format includes qualifying and final rounds, with two runs per athlete in each round. Places are determined according to the total number of points in the final.

Ski slopestyle. Athletes perform on a slope with various types of obstacles (rails, quarter-pipes, and jumps). The technical characteristics of the course are dictated by the rules of the International Ski Federation. The competition follows an elimination format, with semifinals and finals, with two runs in each round. The top finisher wins.
Four new events in freestyle skiing, including men’s and women’s ski halfpipe and slopestyle, have been added to the Olympic Games program in Sochi.

Clockmaking in Concord

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Time is a duration or period, a measure of life which guides, disciplines and raises havoc with human existence… 24-7-365 in today’s vernacular. How often each day does one check a time instrument; ask about or make reference to the time? From where comes this obsession and connectedness to time and to what degree did it exist in and impact rural,colonial Concord?

Perhaps surprisingly, time was important to 17th/18th Century Puritans though in a differently measured manner. It had a sacred, spiritual meaning (contrary to the later secular, materialistic ends) – God’s time. Ministers spoke of improving time usage and against its waste especially for sinful purposes. A Bay Colony law (1633) noted “No person, householder or other shall spend time idly or unprofitably.” Constables sought violations (common coasting, unprofitable fowling, tobacco taking) for punishment. Fines equal to a week’s pay were assessed for “misspending time”.

Countryfolk rose at dawn, exhausted every moment of daylight and slumbered after dark. Sleeping past seven hours was unacceptable and Poor Richard exclaimed “He that riseth late, must trot all day, and shall scarce overtake his business at night”. Ben Franklin (1748) noted “…Time is Money”. Measuring time generally occurred through the daily movement of the sun, monthly passage of the moon, shifting of tides and menstrual cycles. Farmers’ cows and roosters announced the hour to rise and darkness summonsed rest. But in towns where shops outside the home became common, punctuality and time discipline in the work/market place imposed more complex needs.

Clocks (domesticated by 16th Century blacksmiths) were familiar to those aboard the “Arabella” (1630) when it arrived in Massachusetts. But few would be found in the colony for many years with the first public one being mounted in 1668 in Boston where some dozen clockmakers could be found between 1683 and 1725. Generally, timepieces came from England or their parts were imported and assembled in the colony. Style held over technique and minute or second hands were rare well into the 1700s.

To insure rising at dawn and thus no loss of hours in the brevity of life, Englishman Ralph Thoresby (1680) invented the “alarm clock”. Ben Franklin (1780s), appauled at Parisians sleeping until midday and burning candles into the night, introduced “An Economical Project” known today as daylight savings time. And to match sundials to clocks, Londoner Thomas Tompion constructed (1683) “A Table of the Equation of Days Shewing how much a good Pendulum Watch ought to be Faster or Slower than a true Sundial every day of the Year”.

The cost and maintenance of time instruments put them beyond the means of most Concordians. Traditional country time-telling methods were thus used along with such innovations as the “sunline house” which faced due South on a noon sighting and its facade became a large sundial with carvings in the door faceboard or window sills noting the hours. The Town meeting-house bell tolled Sabbath services, the militia alarm and for a while evening curfew (dark/night was considered evil/dangerous and being abroad then was a crime – “nightwalking”).

Those of means had timepieces, most often pocket watches. Rev. William Emerson (1767) went to Boston and purchased (for 20 dollars) a clock made in Limerick, Ireland (still in the Manse). The Town’s first timepiece was loaned by Harvard College in 1775, John Minott (1793) donated a gallery clock to First Parish which with subscriptions ($450) bought its first belfry clock (1827) and in 1826 Concord purchased its own tower clock. By the early 19th Century (1789-1835) a clockmaking industry had developed on the Mill Dam involving 7 makers, some 30 tradesmen and 20 buildings. Soon railroad and standard time, mean time, distances, longitudes and an entire time explosion occurred Daily time was given generally to the nearest hour (“between 2 and 3 after noon” or “half past three”) with minutes rarely used. Times listed for events (the Battle of North Bridge) were often guesses based on the sun and other factors or with the aid of an occasional pocket watch. “Local Apparent Solar Time” was an accepted standard but later could be translated to Eastern Standard in the Boston longitude by subtracting 25 minutes.

Tracking and quantifying time had occurred for centuries through the numbering/naming of days into weeks, months and years. The Julian calendar (46 BCE) changed to the Gregorian in 1582 but England and the colonies lagged until 1752 and thus the 11 day date problems. Annual cycles in time and life were also in conjunction with religious days (Easter) and such local social activities as Election Day, Militia Training Day, Commencement Day, Day of Thanksgiving and especially in Concord opening day of the Circuit Court and County Conventions.

Like today, time played a critical, compelling (if different) role in the daily lives of colonial Concordians. We are from whence we came and such is reflected in the study of time. Again from Poor Richard, “If you have time, don’t want for time…. Up, slaggard, and waste not life; in the grave will be sleeping enough”. The more truisms and times change, the more they stay the same. It is time to say adieu.

Source:”Concord Mass. Clockmakers 1789-1817″ by David F. Wood, Antiques – The Magazine, May 2000.