Monthly Archives: November 2013

Joseph Stalin, Malenkov, Nassar, (and?) Prokofiev

Uncle Joe and his cohorts are probably at least half the reason that I exist.

A Dalkon Shield is actually 100% the reason I exist, but I’m a sucker for a good historical tale.

So, “Ioseb Besarionis dze Jugashvili” (nee J Stalin) was a bad, BAD dude. Killed multi-millions, dragged the Mother Land into the Industrial Age, and most likely kicked my Great-grandfather Pankratz out of Ukraine. I’ve been told that even my walk reminds people of GG Pankratz. I never knew any of my great-grandparents so I think it’s amazing that all four of my sons will remember that generation from both sides.

This book is a great entrée into Joe’s world. Easy read, mildly historical. Think of it as slightly-more-than-Mitchner for history seekers.

And this stanza is incredibly RUSSIAN (Soviet?).

Malenkov was a Stalin crony with aspirations. Once Uncle Joe stroked out and kicked the manure bucked, Georgy power-played with Molotov (yes, GASOLINE in a bottle), Khrushchev (yes, SHOE on a podium), and Beria (yes, FATHER of the KGB) to claim supreme Soviet power or something.

Molotov had a wife who was a ballet dancer, Beria got “ambushed” by Nikita, and Malenkov washed out due to the fact that the didn’t immediately kill or gulag all “political prisoners”.

G-MAL (he TOTALLY would’ve used that as a Twitter handle) spent the rest of his day without decent SSRIs and his daughter spent all the money on building Orthodox churches. So much for THAT opiate.

Gamal Abdel Nassar was the second President of Egypt (think John Adams and then put his face on the Sphinx).

My limited research leads me to believe that Nassar tried to be the Switzerland of the Middle East during the Cold War. So either the USA or the USSR killed him despite his “official” death by myocardial inFARCtion.

And back to the Russian stuff…

Prokofiev is widely know for his orchestral score for “Peter and the Wolf”. There’s a popular adaptation of the tale/score with narrator usually provided by local/regional celebrity. I KNOW that I attended a concert of such type as a child and that the narrator part was played by either Charlie Boone or Roger Erickson from WCCO-AM. But, my google-fu is weak and all I can link to is an awesome repository of WCCO-AM airchecks.

Marciano, Liberace, Santayana Goodbye

Rocky – the original (yes, I realize this is a derivative AND an easy out). BTW, NSFW.

I have a distinctive memory of thinking about Liberace at Voss Park in Butterfield, MN. I’m sure I was there to attend the Butterfield Threshing Bee. I haven’t been to the Bee in 20 years, but I could probably walk to the spot where I heard part of a conversation regarding Liberace. It was about half-way back into the audience from the middle of the stage. There was a (at the time) middle-aged woman talking about how much she loved Liberace. How talented he was, how handsome, what a showman.

Maybe I remember it now as a sign of how sheltered I was and the opportunities I was given in my childhood. She’s probably as dead as Liberace now and I’m not going to watch the HBO movie because it would ruin my tween years. Light the MENORAH JOHNNY POPPER!

I have to admit that I always heard “Santayana Goodbye” as Sat-eye-anna Goodbar. And all I could think of was candy bars and peanut allergies.

I had at least 3 things (as any respectable list does) to post about Santayana and how he was an interesting philosopher, forward thinker, influence on Mr. William Martin Joel. But, life got in the way. So all you get is a weak allergen joke.

Eisenhower, Vaccine, England’s got a new Queen

Ike grew up on Abilene, KS. His presidential library and boyhood home are located there. All Kansas public school students are required to visit at least once. The branding of “I Like Ike” onto all children over the age of 7 was repealed when Nixon resigned. “Dwight David Eisenhower was born the year the US census pronounced the frontier closed and died the year man walked on the moon.

Have I mentioned that this song is chronological? Oops.

Also in 1952, America experienced the worst of its Polio epidemics. This peak led to increased investment in vaccine research. Jonas Salk developed the first vaccine for poliomyelitis by using monkey kidney tissue (because monkey spinal cords didn’t yield well enough) and inactivating the virus by making it swim in formaldehyde.

Ouch and you're welcome

Ouch and you’re welcome

Elizabeth Alexandra Mary (her full name because Windsor is the HOUSE and not to be sullied by being referred to as a common SURNAME), accessioned to the throne on February 6, 1952. Yes, the non-parenthetical verb in that last sentence is correct. Yes, I had to look it up to make sure I was right.

Betsy has been on the throne 61 years now which is a long time for an old lady to sit. However, her great-great-grandmother Vicky sat there for 63 years.

Ouch and you're welcome, filthy peasants

Ouch and you’re welcome, filthy peasants