Is extinction threatening our unique breed? We Bloggers must unite! Somehow we must propagate. I'm doing my part. I even have cards I pass out to those who might be interested in reading my journal of thoughts and opinions. I have registered my "blogging theme" with the Writer's Guild for future "spin-offs" (attempt at humor)
I just found these pictures of Dante Alighieri in an information service I get called "Knowledge News". They are quite interesting to me since I just started studying the Renaissance Period in my Art History Class. Dante and his masterpiece, The Divine Comedy are significant in the development of the Tuscan Dialect of Vernacular Italian or "common language" invention and usage during a time, more than 700 years ago, when Latin was primarily used to convey the Glory of God.
Italian scientists have recently reconstructed the face of Dante, their nation's most famous poet. Using a combination of modern forensics and a plaster model made from his skull in 1921, they produced the bust you see above. He must've had quite a "Roman Nose"...a comedic nose?
"Midway upon the journey of our life
I found myself within a forest dark,
For the straightforward pathway had been lost."
So begins Dante's Divine Epic. For more than seven centuries, Dante's readers have connected with that feeling--of finding themselves lost--before following him on a poetic journey that leads, literally (or at least literarily), from the depths of hell to heaven's heights. It has been more than a few years since I was required to read it, but I remember the arduous trip for I, at the time, was considering going to the Seminary of our church and it must've had an influence on my deciding not to go. Undergraduate college courses had that effect on me. i.e. "dark forest" "fear and trembling" etc. Also, I didn't really believe in "Purgatory"...hell, yes, heaven, maybe. My what a distance I've come since my first major research paper back at Ol' North Park College -"Symbols of the Godhead". Can you even imagine?
Anyway, back to Dante - He was born in Florence, Italy in 1265 and became one of the city's leading political lights. His very success proved to be his downfall because in 1301, the Florentine faction he helped lead lost power to a rival faction, and he wound up exiled. Bad news for his budding political career. Good news for the history of literature. A few years into his exile, he began writing La Commedia (people added "divine" later) in the Tuscan dialect of vernacular Italian he had spoken back home. By the epic's end, his poem consisted of 100 cantos, each roughly 140 lines long, and all written in terza rima, a rhyme scheme he invented for the project.
The first canto introduces the entire work. The other 99 are divided into three equal parts: Inferno, in which the Roman poet Virgil leads Dante through nine descending circles of hell. (I was reminded of this when our tour in Rome took us to a catacombe...only it got cooler and damper) Purgatorio, was next and he was led up Mount Purgatory (a volcano not unlike Vesuvius which we saw fromt the forum ruins at Pompeii) and then Paradiso, in which Dante's deceased love, Beatrice, takes him on a tour of heaven (Virgil, a heathen poet couldn't go) (here I'm transported everytime I hear "Im Paradisium" a standard movement in most Requiems especially Faure's or Mozart's)
Together, the cantos draw a detailed map of the Medieval Christian Cosmos. This was one item we were in need of when we spent a day in "Fiorenza"(Florence) and didn't want to live in their museums and cathedrals. We ended up sitting an immense pallazio between the architectural wonders getting our "characatures" drawn by a local "al fresco arteest" My wife looked just like Oxana Byooul to him.
The Divine Comedy wasn't all fire and brimstone, penance and salvation to Dante. He wove in classical allusions, philosophical reflections and juicy details from his personal life --including spats with his political enemies, who got their just desserts in his version of hell. This classic work is considered one of the greatest literary works of all time but many of his contemporaries viewed it as vulgar in the "common tongue".
I'm sure some of my family, friends (contemporaries) view my "blog writing" in this same way..."pearls before swine" "putting out my private thoughts and pictures for the whole world (internet) to see...shameful! Tragic! What have I come to? Well, I don't care. I think it's a kick. Something to do in my "retirement spare time" It helps me remember all the wonderful things I have done so far and what I can dream and look forward to. Bob!
These then are the new "words of the day". Believe me, they are nothing you would want to be...even though, at times, you may feel that way. A "coxcomb" has many obsolete meanings now ie. a cap worn by a court jester adorned with a strip of red, a fool. Now it refers to a vain, showy fellow; a conceited, silly man, fond of display, a superficial pretender to knowledge or accomplishments; a dandy, a fop. Now, you add to that the adjective: "chimerical" and you get "indulging in unrealistic fantasies or fantastic schemes. This comes from the Greek "khimaira" = "she-goat" or "chimera" which in Greek mythology was a creature with the head of a lion, the body of a goat and the tail of a dragon. Top it off with an adjective like "uxorious" and you have the ultimate tragedy ie. "excessively fond of or submissive to a wife". Can you imagine?
First of all, we had a great time. We went to celebrate my wife's sister's 65th Birthday. She wanted to see Celine Dion so we all got tickets. WOW! What a show! State of the Art Staging with "visuals" to match and enhance her spectacular "sound system". You couldn't take your eyes off of it. I tried to use my binoculars but then I would miss alot of the overall effects and the expansive choreography. It set me to dreaming about "staging" again and my minute productions back "in the day". What is it? "Young men see visions, old men dream dreams." Or is it the other way around? Anyway, the Director, Dragone, has some "Colosseum" there at Caesar's to work with. To me, from the outside it is shaped like a big "jar". He has taken the lid off the jar and given that audience a spectacular view of an "open door" with all kinds of possibilities and ways of expressing Celine's songs and dances. (hence the title of this post) ie. her band, 2 drummers, 2 keyboards, violin, accoustic guitars etc. are (at times) hidden in "see-through" stair mounds that open and close. Things fly, rise up from under the floor and appear out of nowhere. The lighting design and choreography supplement each other to the degree that they pulsate with the music and her "crystal shattering" vocals. She is very personable with the audience at times and effemeral too. The whole cast, after the bows walks out arm-in-arm to "What a Wonderful World" (L. Armstrong's) She also does a tribute to Frank Sinatra blending voices and pictures just the way Nate King and Natalie did. Go see it. You'll be awestruck too.
Another very interesting experience was our visit to the "Silverton Casino" and the "Bass Pro Shop". This was my brother-in-law's request. He wanted to pick up some fishing gear for his grandchildren. I had been there before with him last August and was quite impressed with the "taxadermy" displays. Half of the pictures above are from there. You've got your stuffed elk, bear, skunk, fish and even African animals. You've got your ammo, tackle and every possible thing you might need to hunt, fish, hike and even mountain climb. I included two stuffed people too,mountain climbers. My wife didn't want to see them or even go near them. She has some awfully scary memories of bears trying to get into our tent-cabin in the Sequoias. We gambled a bit and I found a new table game I really liked and made alot of money at. It is called "Boston 5" and is a form of poker played against the dealer. Minimum bet was only $2. but you had to put it in 5 places to collect. I just couldn't seem to lose. My only other winning instances were at two video poker games where I got four 7's and four 2's. I decided to stop while I was ahead.
We also visited the Atrium/Solarium at the Belagio. We just have to include that each trip to Vegas. Half of the picture above are from that display. Giant polar bears and reindeer made of flowers and pecan shells...not looking threatened or endangered at all. That's more my kind of "shootin' range".
We had some wonderful meals. Buffets at Paris and Bellagio are the best. Our new favorite place happened serrandipitiously. We had reservations at Spago before Celine but when we looked at the weird menu we changed our minds and went across the forum to "The Palms". Great choice! It is trying to be a "west-coast" "Sardi's" you know, with the characatures of "stars" all over the walls. (by the way, Vincent Sardi Jr. just died at 91 in New York) So we felt like stars and our waiter, Fernando Coyote, "Coyote" was quite a character himself. He and I sang the Mexican Birthday Song to my sister-in-law to bring down the house (restaurant) "Estas son las mananitas..." He got a big tip. The food was very delicious. We (both couples) split the salmon and (they) beef. We'll be going there again and look for sister restaurants in L.A. etc. We went out to Lake Las Vegas and to Monte Lagos Casino but we were not impressed at all. It was kind of dead, as in winter-dead. The casino was empty and in the "wine cellar". It was a side trip of only about 45 mins. On the way back we gambled at Mandalay Bay. Ideal place to throw money away. ie. very open, high ceilinged, spacious and the bar maids are "spectacular". I was hanging around the sports book which is close to the Mama Mia show entrance and some lady came up and offered me a free ticket to see Mama Mia (again). I was tempted but no...it is more fun to see, even a second time, with someone you love. So I went back to see my "Mama Mia" and her sister who were having the greatest time with "flaming Sevens" and "Free Merlot". Bob!