Tag Archives: Robert

President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Robert Gates Join To Announce START Nuclear Treaty Negotiations With Russia

Posted by: Audiegrl

President Barack Obama delivers remarks to the press during a conference with (L-R) Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates at the White House March 26, 2010 in Washington, DC. Clinton, Gates and Mullen answered questions about the new START Treaty with Russia. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images North America)

President Obama opens today’s press briefing with an announcement of the new START treaty with Russia, “the most comprehensive arms control agreement in nearly two decades.” Following the President were Secy. of State Hillary Clinton, Secy. of Defense Robert Gates and Joint Chief of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen.

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Filed under Hillary Rodham Clinton (Sec of State), Nuclear Weapons, Peace Talks, Pres. Barack Obama, Robert M. Gates (Sec of Defense), Russia, Video/YouTube

Academy Award® Nominated: Sherlock Holmes

Ensemble post by: Audiegrl, Geot, Bluedog89, and BuellBoy

After finally catching serial killer and occult “sorcerer” Lord Blackwood, legendary sleuth Sherlock Holmes and his assistant Dr. Watson can close yet another successful case. But when Blackwood mysteriously returns from the grave and resumes his killing spree, Holmes must take up the hunt once again. Contending with his partner’s new fiancée and the dimwitted head of Scotland Yard, the dauntless detective must unravel the clues that will lead him into a twisted web of murder, deceit, and black magic – and the deadly embrace of temptress Irene Adler.

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Credits

Director . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Guy Ritchie
Producers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Joel Silver, Susan Downey, Lionel Wigram, Dan Lin
Cinematography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Philippe Rousselot
Art Direction . . . . Niall Moroney, Matthew Gray, Nick Gottschalk, James Foster
Score . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Hans Zimmer

The cast includes: Robert Downey Jr, Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Mark Strong, Eddie Marsan, Robert Maillet, Geraldine James, Kelly Reilly and Hans Matheson

44D’s Reviews

Audiegrl
“This was a fun movie to watch. The crime-solving duo of Sherlock Homes (Robert Downey Jr.) and Dr. Watson (Jude Law) was portrayed as more of a collaboration and partnership, than that of the Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce combo that we all grew up on. They enjoyed a natural chemistry and really seemed to play off each other and have fun with the roles. Downey used the English accent he learned from playing Charlie Chaplin to great effect, and seemed at home in the character of Holmes. As much as the movie was about solving a heinous and diabolical crime, it was equally about their friendship. I really enjoyed seeing Holmes’ quirky neurotic side, which was a easy task for Downey. ‘This’ Sherlock Homes was made for him.”

Did You Know?

Robert Maillet accidentally knocked out Robert Downey Jr. while filming a fight scene.

The set for Sherlock Holmes’s home in this film was previously used as Sirius Black’s home in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007).

Watson’s line to Holmes, “You know that what you’re drinking is for eye surgery,” is an obscure reference to Holmes’s cocaine usage. In the Sherlock Holmes novel, “The Seven-Per-Cent Solution,” Watson laments that the cocaine mixture that Holmes was addicted to was originally meant as a topical anesthetic for eye surgery.

Two Nominations

Best Art Direction
Best in Music (Original Score)

Back to 44-D’s Virtual Red Carpet to the Oscars®Back to 44-D’s Virtual Red Carpet to the Oscars®

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R&B Legend Charlie Wilson Fills the Gaps in His Life’s Winding Road

Posted by: Audiegrl

Charlie Wilson

Full circle: Charlie Wilson shows the alley he slept in as a homeless person after his Gap Band days in Hollywood. Wilson has renewed his life and career.

USA Today“This building wasn’t here,” Charlie Wilson says, waving at a high-rise condo under construction along busy La Brea Avenue. “It was a parking lot for U-Hauls. I slept under them when it rained. So did a lot of other crackheads.”

He brushes a tear from his cheek. Revisiting the haunts of his darkest days is distressing for the R&B legend, who led the Gap Band to international stardom in the ’80s and rebounded to solo glory in recent years. In between lies a desperate stretch of addiction and homelessness that took the singer from a posh Hollywood Hills manse to seedy alleys.

Strolling a narrow road behind a pawn shop, he points to the grassy spot he frequently staked out while living on the streets from 1993 to 1995.

“I slept in that deep corner there,” he says. “When I come through this area now, I get all tensed up. A lot of people who sink that far into depression, drugs and street life don’t come back. A lot of people I knew then are dead.”

Robert, Charlie, and Ronnie in 1982

Robert, Charlie, and Ronnie in 1982

Wilson, who turns 57 on Friday, did more than survive. He just had the most successful year of his 43-year career. The singer is up for two Grammys: R&B album for fourth solo effort Uncle Charlie and R&B vocal for hit single There Goes My Baby, which spent 10 weeks atop Billboard’s adult R&B chart. The album entered the R&B chart at No. 1 and the pop chart at No. 2, a career peak. He’s also nominated for an NAACP Image Award.

Nobody is more astonished by this resurrection than Wilson, who returns to the mileposts of his downfall with humility and gratitude. He starts a walking tour at the former location of the Total Experience studio, where the Gap Band, his trio with brothers Robert and Ronnie, recorded from the mid-’70s to the late ’80s, generating a string of platinum albums and such hits as You Dropped a Bomb on Me, Party Train, Outstanding, Burn Rubber on Me and Shake.
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Read the full story here

Charlie Wilson talks to USA Today about his past struggles with drugs, his time spent living on the streets of L.A., and his comeback as a Grammy nominated singer.

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George Lopez Interviews Charlie Wilson on Lopez Tonight

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Charlie Wilson Performs His Grammy Nominated Song, “There Goes My Baby” on Lopez Tonight

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Award Winning Actor Robert DeNiro to Play Governor George Wallace in ‘Selma’

Posted by: Audiegrl

Alabama Gov. George Wallace stands at the entrance of Foster Auditorium in Tuscaloosa, Ala., 1963

Deadline Hollywood is reporting that Robert DeNiro has been cast as Alabama Governor George Wallace in director Lee Daniels’ (Precious) upcoming civil rights film, “Selma“, which is about the 1965 march in Alabama that was “the political and emotional peak of the civil rights movement.”

Robert Deniro

Award-winning Actor Robert DeNiro

Wallace was the controversial political figure known for his Southern populist pro-segregation attitudes. He famously said in his 1963 inauguration speech, “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”

To stop desegregation by the enrollment of African-American students Vivian Malone and James Hood at the University of Alabama, Wallace stood in front of Foster Auditorium on June 11, 1963, until federal marshals, Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach, and the Alabama National Guard forced him to step aside. (see clip below)

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led marches between Selma and Montgomery, Alabama to protest Wallace’s unwillingness to give African-Americans their rights. The violence against peaceful marchers led to a famous statement by President Lyndon B. Johnson that ultimately led to the signing of the Civil Rights Act.

President Lyndon B. Johnson meets with Civil Rights leaders Martin Luther King, Jr., Whitney Young and James Farmer on January 18, 1964

Some of the other key roles that need to be cast in Daniels’ film include President Lyndon Johnson and Martin Luther King, Jr.

ComingSoon.net did an brief interview with Daniel’s last October, and discussing the film, he said, “It’s a moment in time in Martin Luther King and LBJ’s (life) around the signing of the Civil Rights.

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44-D’s Book Diaries: A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick

Posted by: Audiegrl

My husband picked this book up for me this week. In Northern Illinois we are used to very harsh winters, and living less that 20 miles from the Wisconsin border, he thought I’d enjoy this. He was right…Now, I’d like to recommend it to you.

A Reliable Wife: Rural Wisconsin, 1907. In the bitter cold, Ralph Truitt stands stands alone on the train platform anxiously awaiting the arrival of a visitor. The woman who arrives is not who he expects. This woman, this reliable wife, will decide whether Ralph Truitt lives or dies.

An Interview with Robert Goolrick

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The plotting of A Reliable Wife seems very deliberately crafted, as readers must constantly change their expectations of these characters and their actions. There is one surprise after another as the story unfolds. Did you think about the reader’s experience as you were crafting your storytelling, or did you write the story as you saw it?

I wanted to give readers, first and foremost, a good solid story and a reading experience that is as sensual as it is cerebral. I thought about the story for years before I started writing, then started it several times and stopped, and finally just committed myself to writing down what I had already committed to memory, the story of three figures in a barren landscape. I thought a great deal about the myth of Phaedra, and her entanglements with Theseus and Hyppolitus. So I thought I knew pretty much the whole thing.

But you’re always surprised. I was surprised at Ralph’s reaction to the knowledge that he was being poisoned. I was surprised that the brief encounter with Alice in St. Louis became, for me, the emotional fulcrum of the book. And I was surprised by Catherine’s passion for knowledge, for the comfort she takes in the reading rooms of public libraries.

You’ve mentioned that Michael Lesy’s Wisconsin Death Trip was one of the major inspirations for your novel. Can you talk a little about Lesy’s book and its relationship to your own?

Michael Lesy’s remarkable book is an examination of the lives of ordinary citizens of a small town in northern Wisconsin in 1896. It is a collection of photographs taken by the local photographer and brief newspaper accounts of the surprisingly erratic lives of the men and women who endured a hard life in a poor year in a bleak landscape.

Ralph and Catherine and Antonio are vivid, larger than life. I wanted to plant them very securely in the world, and the world they inhabit is the one depicted by Michael Lesy. It is a world in which no one is safe, in which the roof can always cave in when you least expect it.

I’ve always thought the lives of ordinary people are far more fascinating than the lives of the rich and powerful. An account of a man burying his father is more fascinating to me than a politician’s description of lunch with Henry Kissinger. A snapshot taken at the beach on a summer’s day is more memorable than any fine art photography. They show much more clearly the preciousness and grace of life.

Michael Lesy shows us how fragile life is, how hard it can be to get through the day without running off the rails.

Best-selling Author, Robert Goolrick

Best-selling Author, Robert Goolrick

Robert Goolrick is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir The End of the World as We Know It. This is his first novel. He lives in New York City.
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Read an Excerpt of A Reliable Wife
NPR’s ‘Reliable Wife’: Madness And Passion In Wisconsin

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Secretary Clinton Travel’s to the Pacific

Posted by: Audiegrl

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will travel to the Pacific January 11-19, 2010.

Secretary Clinton will deliver a policy speech in Honolulu, Hawaii on January 12, focused on Asia-Pacific multilateral engagement, and will be consulting with Pacific Command.

From Hawaii, Secretary Clinton will travel to Papua New Guinea on January 14 where she will hold bilateral meetings as well as meet with local civil society leaders to discuss environmental protection and women’s empowerment.

On January 15, Secretary Clinton will travel to Auckland, where she will meet with senior New Zealand officials, including Prime Minister John Key. In addition, the Secretary will engage in discussions with New Zealand citizens and meet with U.S. and New Zealand veterans at the Auckland War Memorial Museum.

Secretary Clinton will continue on January 17 to Canberra, Australia and Melbourne, Australia. While in Canberra, the Secretary, along with U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith, and Australian Defense Minister John Faulkner, will participate in the Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) to discuss key global and regional security challenges.

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Filed under Asian/Pacific Islander, Countries, Democrats, Hillary Rodham Clinton (Sec of State), Media and Entertainment, Obama Administration, Politics, Pres. Barack Obama, Women's Issues

44-D’s Best Music of 2009

Blogpost by: Ogenec

Never, ever on schedule, but always on time.” – Nas

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Hey y’all, Happy New Year!  I’ve been promising the list for some time, and I’ve been slacking.  Especially in the wake of AG’s most excellent best books list.  But like Kanye, “you should be honored by my lateness.”  🙂  What follows is a highly personal take on the best music of 2009.    The profusion in the quality and quantity of recorded music is mind-blowing.  And I especially love to be turned on to new stuff.  So I’m hoping you guys will chip in with your own suggestions.   Here we go.

Noisettes, Wild Young Hearts:  I’d never even heard of the Noisettes before Summer 09. But I heard their song “Atticus” at a store somewhere and went in furious search of the group.  Even though rock is not my genre, this is probably my favorite disc of the year.  Of course, calling this is a rock album is a serious disservice.  Most commentators call it a hybrid mesh of rock, blues, disco, and old school r&b.  They’re probably right, but it just sounds like the future to me.  The lead singer is DOPE, and I can’t wait to catch their live show.  Favorite cut: Atticus.

Mos Def, The Ecstatic:  He’s baaaack!!  Mos has floundered a little bit since his magnificent opus, Black on Both Sides.   I get it — he’s been distracted by his acting career (and weird appearances on Bill Maher).  And I liked The New Danger more than most folks.  But this is that classic Mos that we know and love.  Favorite cut: Auditorium.  Also love the remake of Roses with Georgia Anne Muldrow.

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Q-Tip, Kamaal The Abstract: The genuises at Q-Tip’s record label have to explain why they shelved this album for more than eight years.  I think it’s even better than last year’s The Renaissance.  Another hybrid album, this time with elements of r&b, soul, rock, and jazz.  Sounds like future Prince or Stevie Wonder.  Favorite cut: Do You Dig U?

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Drake, So Far Gone: Okay, this is a bit of a cheat.  The mixtape, which I’m still geeking over, came out in 2008.  But he re-released certain of the mixtape cuts on CD and itunes in 2009, so it qualifies.  As a bonus, the re-release contains an unreleased track “Fear,” which is bananas.  Hottest kid in the rap game right now, and with good reason.  Favorite cut: Fear.  Shout-out to DJ Khalil.

Lee Fields, My World: I gotta thank the good people of HBO’s Entourage for this one.  When I heard “Ladies” during the credits of one of the episodes, I lost my sh*t.  I had to cop the album.  Gutbucket soul, set to the sweetest harmonies you’ve ever heard.  And hey — I detect a little of the hip-hop influence as well.  Looks like the old school is learning from the new school, not just vice-versa.  I am a big fan of the ’60s renaissance in music.  If you love Amy Whitehouse, Joss Stone etc., check this OG out.  While you’re at it, check out Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings too.  Favorite cut: Ladies.

Rafael Saadiq, The Way I See It: I’m sticking with the retro soul angle here.  I’ve been down with Ray-Ray since Tony Toni Tone.  This is his masterpiece.  Again, if you like the Motown doo-wop sound, you’ve gotta check this out.  And while you’re at it, get the Live from the Artist’s Den DVD.  It’s fantastic.  Favorite cut: 100 Yard Dash.

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Fela, The Best of the Black President: “Eh-heh, let us get down.  Into another underground spiritual game….”  I have to show some love to the greatest Nigerian musician of all time.  If you want to know the meaning of “underground spiritual game,” you need to check out Fela!, the best show on Broadway.  This album will hold you over until you can.  It’s a compilation of Fela’s most popular cuts.  Note, however, that these are mostly edits: many of Fela’s songs run 20-30 minutes long, and you owe it to yourself to listen to the unedited versions.  Still, an excellent way to get familiar with the genius that is Fela.  Favorite cut: Water No Get Enemy.

Robert Glasper, Double Booked: And now we segue from Afrobeat to jazz (actually, less of a transition than you might think).  Robert Glasper is my favorite jazz pianist right now.  He’s just so melodic.  He’s also incredible live — the missus and I saw him last year at the Kennedy Center.  He can play everything from straight-ahead to fusion to soul jazz to hip-hop.  And here, he does.  The first half is an acoustic trio setting; the second, “The Experiment,” a fusion exercise with Bilal and Mos Def making vocal appearances.  Wonderful stuff.  Favorite cut: No Worries.

Roy Hargrove, Emergence: A little more jazz.  I’ve loved this guy ever since I saw him play in St. Louis many moons ago.  Like Glasper, Hargrove does all variety of jazz, soul and hip-hop-inflected music.  Indeed, my favorite album of his is Crisol, a Latin jazz homage.  Here, Hargrove goes big band.  I’m not generally a fan of the big band genre, but I love this.  Especially the treatment of Mambo for Roy from the Crisol album.  Favorite cut: Mambo for Roy.

Maxwell, Blacksummersnight: Maxwell returns.  He’s lost the neo-soul affectations of his first few albums, and is in full-on grown man mode.  I love it, and you will too.  The harmonies, the live instrumentation, the trumpets, it’s all so gorgeous.  And if you missed his North American tour, you missed the best concert of the year.  Period.  Favorite cut: Bad Habits.

Me’Shell Ndegeocello, Devil’s Halo: I think of this album as sort of a bookend to Bitter.  I liked Bitter, but found it to be a little dark for me.  This is dark too, but it’s not so depressing.  Just deep, slow, and sensual.  You know, kinda like Me’Shell herself.  Favorite cut: Love You Down (wonderful remake of the Ready for the World song).

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The Dream, Love vs Money: I don’t listen to a lot of commercial radio.  Obviously.  🙂  It’s virtually all dreck to me.  But I love me some The-Dream.  I don’t think there’s anyone else in R&B working at his level.  He’s behind most of the hits you’ve danced to, from Rihanna’s Umbrella to Beyonce’s Single Ladies.  But he saved the best for himself on this album.  The-Dream is the future of R&B.  Favorite cut: Fancy.

Major Lazer, Guns Don’t Kill People, Lazers Do: I don’t even know how to classify this one.  Reggae meets rock meets electronica?  Dancehall meets punk?  I heard someone call it “electro reggae.”  Let’s go with that.  This album, from MIA’s producers Diplo and Switch, rocks HARD.  Just get it already.  Favorite cut: What U Like(WARNING: This is a VERY explicit and raunchy song.   Not for delicate ears!!!)

Raekwon, Only Built for Cuban Linx 2: The second installment of the Wu-Gambino crime-soaked masterpiece.  This is for all you who claim not to like gangsta rap.  Indulge your id and have a little fun with this one.  It’s not real, any more than playing Grand Theft Auto or watching Scarface is.  But it’s an escapist treat. Amazon says “Blazing tracks…delivered with Raekwon’s melodic flows and street oriented delivery.”  Werd.  Favorite track: We Will Rob You.

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Go, Tell Michelle: You’ve Read the Book, Now See the Play

Posted by Audiegrl

“When you and your family go to the spot under the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial, where Barack Obama will be sworn in as the 44th President of the United States, you will take with you our history of dreams deferred; however, you will also take with you our prayers and hopes for an America that is ready to build and dream anew.”~~Excerpt from a letter to Michelle Obama

Go, Tell Michelle: African American Women Write to the New First Lady was first published in January 2009. In December 2009, “Go, Tell Michelle” was named by book and movie critic Kam Williams as one of the 10 Best Black Books of 2009. My daughter gave this to me as my Mother’s Day present last year, and I highly recommend it. I thought it would be a great way to start off the new year (and new decade), to introduce the book to those who have not read it yet, and also give me a chance to provide a photo slideshow of our First Lady during the first year.

Go, Tell Michelle: African American Women Write to the New First LadyGo, Tell Michelle: African American Women Write to the New First Lady”, the award winning volume of 100 letters to Michelle Obama written shortly after the 2008 election of President Barack Obama has been adapted as a dramatic production. Drs. Barbara Seals Nevergold and Peggy Brooks-Bertram, co-authors and editors of the book, have been working with Dr. Robert Knopf, chair of University at Buffalo’s Drama Department on this dramatization. The outcome of this collaboration is Dr. Knopf’s adaptation, a one hour play that features three readers.

Dr. Knopf describes “Go, Tell Michelle: the Play” as more than a dramatic reading: “It is a montage of lost voices, personal stories, and heartfelt emotions unleashed by the tide of history that has swept the nation.” Under Dr. Knopf’s direction, storyteller Karima Amin, Brooks-Bertram and Seals Nevergold will give voice to the stories and poems in this dramatic adaptation.

The play will debut on January 19th at University at Buffalo’s Allen Hall on the South Campus on the eve of the first anniversary of President Obama’s historic inauguration. Performance time is 7:00pm and Jericka Duncan, reporter from WIVB-TV will act as Emcee. A second performance will take place at the Frank E. Merriweather Jr. Library on January 20th. Both performances will be free and open to the public.

The Warmth, Style, and Grace of First Lady Michelle Obama

This is the short biography of Michelle Obama that introduced the Obama family to families across America. It originally played the first night of the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

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Drs. Barbara Seals Nevergold and Peggy Brooks-Bertram on C-SPAN Book TV (03/28/09)

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Santa Claus Through History

The man we know as Santa Claus has a history all his own. Keep reading to find information about the history of Santa Claus, his earliest origins, and how he became the jolly man in red that we know today.

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The Legend of St. Nicholas

Saint Nicholas

Saint Nicholas

The legend of Santa Claus can be traced back hundreds of years to a monk named St. Nicholas. It is believed that Nicholas was born sometime around 280 A.D. in Patara, near Myra in modern-day Turkey. Much admired for his piety and kindness, St. Nicholas became the subject of many legends. It is said that he gave away all of his inherited wealth and traveled the countryside helping the poor and sick. One of the best known of the St. Nicholas stories is that he saved three poor sisters from being sold into slavery or prostitution by their father by providing them with a dowry so that they could be married. Over the course of many years, Nicholas’s popularity spread and he became known as the protector of children and sailors. His feast day is celebrated on the anniversary of his death, December 6. This was traditionally considered a lucky day to make large purchases or to get married. By the Renaissance, St. Nicholas was the most popular saint in Europe. Even after the Protestant Reformation, when the veneration of saints began to be discouraged, St. Nicholas maintained a positive reputation, especially in Holland.

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Sinter Klass Comes to New York

Sinter Klaas

Sinter Klaas

St. Nicholas made his first inroads into American popular culture towards the end of the 18th century. In December 1773, and again in 1774, a New York newspaper reported that groups of Dutch families had gathered to honor the anniversary of his death.

The name Santa Claus evolved from Nick’s Dutch nickname, Sinter Klaas, a shortened form of Sint Nikolaas (Dutch for Saint Nicholas). In 1804, John Pintard, a member of the New York Historical Society, distributed woodcuts of St. Nicholas at the society’s annual meeting. The background of the engraving contains now-familiar Santa images including stockings filled with toys and fruit hung over a fireplace. In 1809, Washington Irving helped to popularize the Sinter Klaas stories when he referred to St. Nicholas as the patron saint of New York in his book, The History of New York. As his prominence grew, Sinter Klaas was described as everything from a “rascal” with a blue three-cornered hat, red waistcoat, and yellow stockings to a man wearing a broad-brimmed hat and a “huge pair of Flemish trunk hose.”

Shopping Mall Santas

Gift-giving, mainly centered around children, has been an important part of the Christmas celebration since the holiday’s rejuvenation in the early 19th century. Stores began to advertise Christmas shopping in 1820, and by the 1840s, newspapers were creating separate sections for holiday advertisements, which often featured images of the newly-popular Santa Claus. In 1841, thousands of children visited a Philadelphia shop to see a life-size Santa Claus model. It was only a matter of time before stores began to attract children, and their parents, with the lure of a peek at a “live” Santa Claus. In the early 1890s, the Salvation Army needed money to pay for the free Christmas meals they provided to needy families. They began dressing up unemployed men in Santa Claus suits and sending them into the streets of New York to solicit donations. Those familiar Salvation Army Santas have been ringing bells on the street corners of American cities ever since.

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

In 1822, Clement Clarke Moore, an Episcopal minister, wrote a long Christmas poem for his three daughters entitled, “An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas.” Moore’s poem, which he was initially hesitant to publish due to the frivolous nature of its subject, is largely responsible for our modern image of Santa Claus as a “right jolly old elf” with a portly figure and the supernatural ability to ascend a chimney with a mere nod of his head! Although some of Moore’s imagery was probably borrowed from other sources, his poem helped to popularize Christmas Eve – Santa Claus waiting for the children to get to sleep the now-familiar idea of a Santa Claus who flew from house to house on Christmas Eve – in “a miniature sleigh” led by eight flying reindeer, whom he also named – leaving presents for deserving children. “An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas,” created a new and immediately popular American icon. In 1881, political cartoonist Thomas Nast drew on Moore’s poem to create the first likeness that matches our modern image of Santa Claus. His cartoon, which appeared in Harper’s Weekly, depicted Santa as a rotund, cheerful man with a full, white beard, holding a sack laden with toys for lucky children. It is Nast who gave Santa his bright red suit trimmed with white fur, North Pole workshop, elves, and his wife, Mrs. Claus.

The Many Names of Santa

18th-century America’s Santa Claus was not the only St. Nicholas-inspired gift-giver to make an appearance at Christmastime. Similar figures were popular all over the world. Christkind or Kris Kringle was believed to deliver presents to well-behaved Swiss and German children. Meaning “Christ child,” Christkind is an angel-like figure often accompanied by St. Nicholas on his holiday missions. In Scandinavia, a jolly elf named Jultomten was thought to deliver gifts in a sleigh drawn by goats. English legend explains that Father Christmas visits each home on Christmas Eve to fill children’s stockings with holiday treats. Pere Noel is responsible for filling the shoes of French children. In Russia, it is believed that an elderly woman named Babouschka purposely gave the wise men wrong directions to Bethlehem so that they couldn’t find Jesus. Later, she felt remorseful, but could not find the men to undo the damage. To this day, on January 5, Babouschka visits Russian children leaving gifts at their bedsides in the hope that one of them is the baby Jesus and she will be forgiven. In Italy, a similar story exists about a woman called La Befana, a kindly witch who rides a broomstick down the chimneys of Italian homes to deliver toys into the stockings of lucky children.

Rudolph: The Ninth Reindeer

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

Rudolph, “the most famous reindeer of all,” was born over a hundred years after his eight flying counterparts. The red-nosed wonder was the creation of Robert L. May, a copywriter at the Montgomery Ward department store.

In 1939, May wrote a Christmas-themed story-poem to help bring holiday traffic into his store. Using a similar rhyme pattern to Moore’s “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,” May told the story of Rudolph, a young reindeer who was teased by the other deer because of his large, glowing, red nose. But, When Christmas Eve turned foggy and Santa worried that he wouldn’t be able to deliver gifts that night, the former outcast saved Christmas by leading the sleigh by the light of his red nose. Rudolph’s message—that given the opportunity, a liability can be turned into an asset—proved popular. Montgomery Ward sold almost two and a half million copies of the story in 1939. When it was reissued in 1946, the book sold over three and half million copies. Several years later, one of May’s friends, Johnny Marks, wrote a short song based on Rudolph’s story (1949). It was recorded by Gene Autry and sold over two million copies. Since then, the story has been translated into 25 languages and been made into a television movie, narrated by Burl Ives, which has charmed audiences every year since 1964.

Yes, kiddies, Santa is smoking...bad Santa! 😉




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Rep. Wexler To Resign From Congress

posted by GeoT

Rep. Robert Wexler D-FL

Rep. Robert Wexler D-FL

U.S. House of Representatives member Robert Wexler of Boca Raton, a self-described “fire-breathing liberal,” defender of Israel and friend of both President Barack Obama and Gov. Charlie Crist, is quitting Congress to head a think tank seeking peace in the Middle East.

He plans to announce his plans at a news conference Wednesday at 10 a.m. in Boca Raton.,
A Democratic source with knowledge of Wexler’s plans said he is likely to take a public policy job that deals with the Middle East.

Wexler, a senior member of the House Foreign Relations Committee, has long been involved in issues involving Israel and Turkey.

Update: In a conference call with Democratic leaders Tuesday night, Wexler said he will become director of the Washington-based Center for Middle East Peace and Economic Cooperation.

Full Story Here: The Miami Herald

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