UNREMEMBERED PUT-DOWNS: William Shakespeare, Prince Hal and the Art of the Insult

Posted on Updated on

BB3

By Ken Zurski

In William Shakespeare’s Henry IV part I & II, King Henry is troubled by his son Hal’s disreputable behavior. That’s because the youthful Prince Hal, the future King Henry V, is a rabble-rouser in his father’s eyes. For example, throughout the play, Hal forsakes his roots by frequenting taverns and conversing with peasants and lowlifes. This royal debauchery gives Shakespeare a chance to introduce the character of Falstaff, Prince Hal’s friend and foil.

Described as “fat, drunk, and corrupt,” Falstaff is satirically based on Sir John Oldcastle, a historical figure who was much more sagacious than the buffoonish character portrayed in the play.  Still, Shakespeare originally wanted to name Falstaff, Oldcastle, but descendants of the family objected. Regardless, Falstaff is one for the ages: An entertaining braggart, liar and cheat, who both interjects and deflects colorful and deviously intended barbs.

This Clearly amuses Prince Hal, who berates Falstaff with his own words or those of others, lest he be the one judged.

His descriptions, however, are some of the greatest put-downs of the 16th century. “Why dost thou converse with that trunk of humours?’ he explains, then unleashes a folly of insults mostly in relation to Falstaff’s girth: “The bolting-hutch of beastliness, that swollen parcel of dropsies, that huge bombard of sack, that stuffed cloak-bag guts, that roasted Manningtree ox with pudding in his belly.”

The prince’s jabs are meant to solidify the future King’s own disregard for those who criticize the “merry and old,” as Falstaff relates. But Falstaff doesn’t mind. When Prince Hal calls Falstaff, “the old white bearded devil,” Falstaff gleefully responds:

“My lord, I know the man.”

BBGlen3

UNREMEMBERED [the book] out Thursday, August 9

Posted on Updated on

A book based in part on the blog site “UNREMEMBERED History” releases Thursday, August 9.  E-book to follow:  https://amzn.to/2KECpAj

Unremembered

Ken Zurski, author of The Wreck of the Columbia and Peoria Stories, provides a fascinating collection of once famous people and events that are now all but forgotten by time. Using a backdrop of schemes and discoveries, adventures and tragedies, Zurski weaves these figures and the events that shaped them into a narrative that reveals history’s many coincidences, connections, and correlations.

We tumble over Niagara Falls in a barrel, soar on the first transcontinental machine-powered flight, and founder aboard a burning steamboat. From an adventurous young woman circumnavigating the globe to a self-absorbed eccentric running for President of the United States, Unremembered brings back these lost stories and souls for a new generation to discover.

FEATURING
John Alcock
Nellie Bly
Isambard K. Brunel
Samuel Cunard
Nathaniel Currier
Annie Edson Taylor
Ruth Elder
William Harnden
Father Louis Hennepin
Dorothy Kilgallen
Samuel Langley
Bobby Leach
John Ledyard
Thomas Moran
Catherine O’Leary
William B. Ogden
Fanny Palmer
Sam Patch
Rembrandt Peale
Cal Rodgers
Amos Root
Janet Scudder
George Francis Train
Cornelius Vanderbilt
Arthur Whitten Brown
John Wise
Victoria Woodhull

UNREMEMBERED Actress: Billie Burke

Posted on Updated on

By Ken Zurski

BB6

A veteran of stage and screen, Billie Burke began her Broadway and film acting career in 1906 at the age of 22. She appeared in numerous stage and screen roles (silent films) and in 1914 married another show business impresario , Florenz “Flo” Ziegfeld Jr, of Zeigfeld Follies fame.

In 1921, Burke retired from performing thanks to a boon in the stock market and good investments. However, in 1929 after the Black October crash, the money was gone and Burke went back to work appearing with many top Hollywood heavyweights like Lionel Barrymore whom she co-starred in the most acclaimed and defining role of her career: Millicent Jordan, the “hapless, feather-brained lady with the unmistakably high voice,” in 1933’s “Dinner at Eight.”

Although it wasn’t her last appearance in the movies, in 1939, at the age of 54, Burke played a character for which she is most remembered today,  appearing alongside newcomer Judy Garland, as Glinda the Good Witch of the North in “The Wizard of Oz.”

zzz26

UNREMEMBERED: Tales of the Nearly Famous and the Not Quite Forgotten

Posted on Updated on

“This is a history book about people and events that were famous once now mostly forgotten. It’s also about how lives connect and intertwine. Using a flowing narrative of multiple themes, I chronicle these fascinating figures in ways that made them instantly popular and reveal good or bad why today they are the stories of the Unremembered” – Ken Zurski, author

Unremembered

Back

    Coming August 2018 from Amika Press

You Won’t Believe What Else John Philip Sousa Did On the Fourth of July!

Posted on Updated on

zzz26

By Ken Zurski

On July 4, 1900, at the newly opened World’s Fair in Paris, France, after another rousing rendition of “The Stars and Striped Forever,”conductor John Philip Sousa and several of his band members donned a baggy pair of trousers, hat and glove and went out to play an exhibition game of baseball.

Sousa. known as the “March King” at the time for his inspiring and mostly patriotic musical marches, was in Europe for an extended concert tour, the first ever for a band its size.

But like music, Sousa also had a passion for baseball. So he formed a team.

zzz26

Sousa was said to be in excellent pitcher and started most games on the mound. He threw competitively until his skills waned with age.  “If baseball has a drawback,” he once wrote, “it is the early time of life at which the player is forced to retire and give way to younger blood.”

Back home in America, baseball commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis took advantage of Sousa’s love for baseball and asked him to compose a march for the 50th  anniversary of the National League. In 1925, Sousa delivered with the composition called “The National Game.” He dedicated it to the sport.

However, despite the connection to Sousa, even today the song is not well known or as widely played as other tunes associated with baseball, like “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

In fact, sadly Sousa’s baseball march is mostly forgotten.

But it was not a song, but a day, July 4, 1900, that Sousa remembers the most.

That day in Paris, Sousa and the band’s team played “a group of nines” from the American Guards. “What could have been more appropriate for two American organizations in a foreign land to do on the glorious Fourth?” Sousa proudly proclaimed about that particular game.

UNREMEMBERED INNOVATOR: Eadweard Muybridge, the Zoopraxiscope, and the Suspended Horse

Posted on

By Ken Zurski

zzz21
Eadweard Muybridge

In 1860, while traveling by stagecoach across the Texas plains, capitalist Eadweard Muybridge fell and suffered a serious head injury. Some say he never fully recovered. His doctor however suggested more fresh air. So Muybridge took up photography and began shooting landscapes.

Then in 1872, railroad magnate Leland Stanford hired Muybridge to shoot a horse. Not literally, of course, but with a camera. Stanford wanted to know if a horse lifts all four feet off the ground simultaneously during a gait. Muybridge managed to show a horse seemingly suspended in midair. But the shot, published as a line drawing at first, drew jeers from a skeptical public.

t11.jpg
Muybridge’s Moving Horse 

Muybridge found a way to convince them. He invented a machine called the Zoopraxiscope, where a silhouette image of a picture is painted on a revolving glass plate. When the light is shown through the cylinder the drawings seem to move.

“A magic lantern gone mad,” raved the Illustrated London News.

Image result for eadweard muybridge zoopraxographer
Zoopraxiscope

Vindicated, Muybridge sought to improve his design. He went to see a man he thought might be able to put actual photographs on the cylinder.

After all, he had done the same thing with sound.

That man was Thomas Edison.

UNREMEMBERED SPORTS: Lord Stanley’s Gift

Posted on

By Ken Zurski

In 1891, Charles Colville, secretary for the Lord Frederick Stanley, the British appointed General Governor of Canada, was ordered to sail back to England and return with a handpicked ornament.

Image result for sir charles colville
Charles Colville

Stanley had something particular in mind and Colville knew just where to look.

On Regent Street near Piccadilly Circus, he stepped into the shop of George Richmond and Collis Co. and spotted a “silver bowl lined with a gold gilt interior.” Colville bought the bowl for 10 guineas, the equivalent of about 10-thousand U.S. dollars today.

zzz26

Stanley was ambivalent at first. “It looks like any other trophy,” he remarked, but overall pleased.

Image result for lord stanley of preston
Lord Frederick Stanley

 

In 1893, the first Stanley Cup, as it was called, was awarded to Montreal, the champions of the Ontario Hockey Association. Stanley, a big hockey supporter, offered the trophy as a gift. His team, however, was Ottawa and the animosity between the two teams was apparent.

When Montreal was awarded the inaugural cup bearing Stanley’s name, only a few players were on hand and no Montreal team officials bothered to show up.

zzz25