#LoveWins Today

It’s not a good day to be a Catholic. I definitely don’t mean that in the way most would believe I do. I’m a huge supporter of the LGBT+ Community and I’ve been waiting a long time for marriage equality to become the law of the land. I’m very very proud of the Supreme Court for finally making the right decision and allowing everyone to marry the person they love legally in this country and putting the kibosh on anyone telling the LGBT+ community that they should be denied that right. However…I’m very disappointed in the statement issued by the Archbishop of Philadelphia, the diocese of which I was a member for over 15 years of my life. I’m incredibly proud of the comment my mother made in standing up for the many people in our lives that belong to the LGBT+ community and continuing to publicly offer them our love and support. I’m not proud to say the diocese I’m from today. When it comes to education and as evidently presented today on their policy of including everyone under the umbrella of God’s love, they failed. Obviously, the Archbishop Chaput does not speak for every member of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, in fact, the amount of people who agreed with my mother’s statement grows by the minute. My heavy concern is in the blind opposition from people who clearly believe that they can defend their exclusion with Biblical proof texting and hate. It’s a lot of blind ignorance and that’s really disappointing. I’m proud to be a member of the Catholic church and have been loving the inclusive message of the current Pope, Pope Francis. He spreads a message of love while the Archbishop of Philadelphia spreads a message of fear and exclusion. My mom made an excellent point when she said that the newly universal law of marriage equality in America has no affect on the way she raises her children (which she did quite well) or the marriage of anyone else. If you believe that the marriage of someone else or the gender of the person they marry has any effect on the way your marriage turns out or the way your children are raised, maybe you should check yourself. Mind your own business and let people love who they want and marry who they want. A life of love is always more Godly than a life of exclusion, hate and fear. If you don’t want to explain homosexuality to your children, that’s too bad…but someone else will likely gladly step up to the plate and do it for you. I’m including a link to the statement made by the Archbishop today and feel free to peruse the comments. I’m proud of the forward thinking of most of the Catholics I know when it comes to marriage equality. I can only hope that someday the rest of the community comes to accept a life of love or at least stops persecuting the community that has done nothing to them or their straight marriages. I’ll get off my soapbox now but it’s not an issue I will ever stop speaking in favor of. I’m proud to be a Catholic who accept everyone and I suspect that God does too. As my brother so eloquently said when my mother said that one of the commenters believed that 11 states had the rights taken away today “oh and I guess all 50 states had their rights taken away when the court ruled on civil rights in the 60s.” I’ll leave that for you all to think on. This is an important day in American History. I hope that some day the next generation studies it and wonders why it took so long.

https://www.facebook.com/ArchbishopChaput?fref=nf

Book Review: Parlor Politics by Catherine Allgor

In her book Parlor Politics: In Which the Ladies of Washington Help Build a City and a Government, Catherine Allgor does exactly what the reader expects her to do. She goes through several examples, the most detailed of which is Dolly Madison, of women who were equally as influential in Washington D.C. and its evolution of the city Americans see as their capitol today. Allgor limits her study of the women of Washington to the white, upper class in order to more accurately describe a certain, powerful section of the private sphere. Catherine Allgor points out that those working behind the scenes in Washington, the wives of the men with the power, were just as integral to the development of the city and the government as the men they were married to.

Allgor does a lovely job of describing how un-lovely Washington D.C. was in its earliest days. People who were traveling into the city often asked where it was when in fact they were standing at the heart of it. It was up to both the men and women of Washington society to create the society the city is now famous for as well as to create the base of what would be an incredibly strong government. The gender role reversal that Allgor describes is what allowed this to happen. She argues that the ones doing all of the political work was the women, while the men maintained the image of disinterestedness and attempted to avoid corruption. The women were the ones forming the groups and campaigning on behalf of their husbands or brothers attempting to gain them positions of power. They often hosted lavish dinner parties and social gatherings and passed them off as such instead of the political escapades that they really were.

One of the biggest aspects of Allgor’s argument is that gender as a societal construction functioned as an ideology. It “can be manipulated and shifted to help shift mechanisms of power” (http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=5033). Seeing it as an ideology allows gender to be a driving force behind the development of Washington as a hot bed of political gossip, power and ideas. Due to the actions of the women of Washington and their lobby groups and their use of the private and public sphere to manipulate American politics, the politics of the city became based upon networking and allegiance to certain people. The women that Allgor describes use their domestic role in the home and the nature of their role in society to establish a culture in American politics that remains even to this day.

Allgor’s argument is very well supported. Not only has she analyzed the women who have always been thought of as politically influential, first ladies Abigail Adams and Dolly Madison but sisters of politicians and women such as Margaret Bayard Smith, who while not the wife of any president, got swept up in the whirlwind that was the structure of Washington society. She explains in the first chapter, how important the relationships in Washington were and how politics and ideas were constantly the talk of the town. She describes how, despite its unfinished architecture and small town feeling, Washington was charming in its own way and had the beauty of an old European city. Allgor provides a plethora of evidence to support her story and her argument. She provides detailed diaries of the women that she profiles as well as detailed accounts of the parties that they hosted at their homes. She sorts through the tedious accounts of the lives of the women constantly portrayed in the shadow of their historically famous husbands. She does this in order to get to the bottom of their influence over Washington and how they managed to acquire such an amount of indirect power.

I am quite convinced by Allgor’s argument. Based upon her evidence and her examples of influential women presented as part of the argument, I do not feel that Washington could have prospered into the flowering political center of American culture without their feminine touch. I believe that if the men were expected to keep up the persona of being disinterested in politics and keeping up this appearance in the public sphere, then it was only natural that the women took over in the private sphere and managed to reach their influence into the public sphere as well. However, while the book is well researched and well supported, Allgor does not try particularly hard to stay objective. She clearly supports the women and appreciates the fact that they challenged their typical small town domestic role. They were afforded the opportunity presented by the unique development of the nation’s capitol to express their opinions to one another and put their ideas into practice via the influence they had over their husbands.

Allgor’s presentation of a different outlook on the development of political life in Washington allows for a much deeper understanding of the Founding Fathers. For example, while John Adams was an influential man on his own and in his own right, in accordance with Allgor’s argument, Abigail Adams was a huge influence over his political behavior and was as much a presence in his presidency as he was. Allgor does a great job of exploring different presidents from different eras of early America. She enables a student of early American history to examine how Abigail Adams, Dolly Madison, Louisa Catherine Adams, Peggy Eaton affected Washington politics, both for the better and for worse. While Louisa Catherine Adams and Dolly Madison were a political force in the betterment of Washington, Peggy Eaton, while she was in a position to take on a position of power in Washington, fell prey to the other women of Washington. She was judged by society of Washington for acting as a femme fatale; she was in the position to take on most of the feminine power in Washington, due to the widowed state of the President. The Washington gossip circles engulfed her and called her such names as a tart and other insults not commonly used in civilized society.

Allgor presents a compelling argument that as important as the founding fathers were to the development of Washington politics, their wives and the other women of the Washington lobbying circles, were equally important. Some of the most prominent women making a difference in the newborn capitol were Dolly Madison, Louisa Catherine Adams and Peggy Eaton. However, the women on the sidelines of politics were equally important. Their actions surrounding politics enabled their husbands to maintain the public demeanor of disinterestedness in politics, while they promoted their husbands through indirect political actions and appearing as politically supportive wives to the most powerful men in the country. “Remember the ladies” Abigail Adams remarks, and Allgor allows the reader to understand not only that they should be remembered but what they are to be remembered for.

Time Travel vs. Nostalgia

1264092_10152240965547818_837053240_oI hear a lot of people saying how they long to go back to the days of old Hollywood, or how they wish they had been at the signing of the Declaration of Independence or something of the like. What they don’t realize is that unless they would like to give up things like technology, modern medicine, and for ladies, your basic rights, going back to a time period other than the one to which we have become accustomed would kind of suck. If you went back to the 1700s or the Civil War era and you became ill, because your body wouldn’t be able to fight the diseases that were so rampant. Now, many people now a days have been vaccinated, but there are lots of things that we don’t get vaccines for simply because the disease isn’t around anymore. So, for one thing, your likelihood of dying of an illness that the 21st century body isn’t prepared for is fairly high. And to ladies who would like to go back to the antebellum or revolutionary era, news flash, say good bye to voting, literacy and having a say in anything, and good luck birthing all those kids without the benefit of a hospital.
My major, as I have mentioned in previous articles, was history, so I’m quite well acquainted with the past and why it’s fascinating. It wasn’t until I had a professor ask my Jazz in American History class one day what era we would like to have been born in. I said Revolutionary America because of all the excitement and intellectual development. I was shocked when he said “Ok, none of which you are a part of because you are a woman, you have 5 kids, at least 2 of which probably died in child birth or shortly thereafter of disease and that’s only if you actually made it to 23.” I was taken a back and then I realized he was right.
It was then that I began to realize the difference between nostalgia and actually wanting to be born in another time or be transported to another time. We go to events like the renaissance faire, visit 20s speakeasies and go to Dapper Day because there are things about those eras that we like. I love the IMG_1308dresses and glamour of the 20s-50s Hollywood and the manners that people had back then. I love the corsetry of the Renaissance and the hearty food and archery. But the difference between the nostalgia I have for other eras and actually wanting to transport myself back to them is that I like studying and experiencing parts of these times from the comfort of the 21st century, where we are blessed with the technology and events to visit these eras and return safely with all of our medical health and rights in tact.

Just as there are things we don’t like about the 21st century such as the dependence on technology, war, and a general laziness about the culture, there are far more things we wouldn’t like about the other eras the world has gone through. Every time period has its faults. If you are interested in other time periods, find events centered around them and read about them. Then realize that while they are nice places to visit in your mind and from the comfort of the 21st century, there are many reasons you wouldn’t want to actually live in them. If you don’t believe me, check out a show called Colonial House. It was a show on PBS that placed people in a colonial town and they had to live the same way that people would have lived back then. There is also a show, the precursor to the show called the 1900 House where a family had to live as they would have in Victorian times. Check out the links below and keep sifting through shelves! You never know what you’ll find!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_1900_House

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colonial_House_(TV_series)

As Dreamers Do: Movie Review

I recently saw an amazing film made by a gentleman named Logan Sekulow, written by Wendy Ott and starring Olan Rogers and released by Vision Films. The film is a biopic about Walt Disney called As Dreamers Do. The film tells the story of Walt Disney from his early days moving to Marceline, MO until he first drew Mickey Mouse. It covers his often glanced over childhood and introduces the viewer to his family and friends. It tells the not always happy story of the genius before success strikes. His journey was definitely not easy, but the film is incredibly inspiring.

The movie does an excellent job with one foot on the side of documentary and one foot on the side of a period piece. The film is narrated by Travis Tritt and all of the music is original. It feels like someone who truly knew Walt when he was alive is sitting with you telling you the whole story. They did a lot of filming on site in Misosuri and there was clearly a lot of research done into both the characters and the story. The authenticity is fantastic!

I got to watch the movie early because I pre-ordered the digital download of the film and I also got the commentary. The director is clearly passionate about the project and put a lot of work into it. The writing is great, as is the acting from the whole cast. Young Walt just makes me want to hug him and take him to Disney World to show him what his dreams and his art become. Olan Rogers, who plays Walt as an adult has all the enthusiasm that we have grown to believe Walt possessed and his relationship with Roy in the film is nothing short of a real brotherly relationship. They but heads at times but when it really comes down to it, they care deeply for one another.

The film is having several premieres throughout the country and the pre-sale of the film has ended, however, the film is set to have a full release but there has been no set date as of yet. The official website for the movie is www.waltmovie.com. When you go to the site, the trailer automatically plays and I guarantee, you will immediately be sucked into the story. I am an avid fan of Walt and all things Disney history and this movie told a beautiful story of a man who changed the face of entertainment, but as of the end of the film, he just doesn’t know it yet. The movie also has a Facebook page that keeps fans updated on the premieres with photos from the viewings and is a great way to interact with the amazing people who made this film. This is by far the easiest and best way to keep up to date on the happenings of the film; when they decide on a release date for the movie, this will be the place it is posted first. If you don’t want to miss out on the movie, I highly suggest following them on Facebook and signing up for email alerts from the filmmakers on their website.

 

(Photo is from http://www.facebook.com/waltmovie)

The Boys: The Sherman Brothers’ Story Movie Review

IMG_6283I finally got to watch the definitive documentary on two of the most famous behind the scenes men at the Walt Disney animation Studios, the Sherman brothers. Even if you don’t know much about the brothers themselves, you know their music. They are responsible for a lot of the great Disney songs of the time before Walt’s passing and even a few afterwards. They are most famous for their music in Mary Poppins, the Jungle Book and the theme songs for the Carousel of Progress and It’s a Small World in the theme parks. Their songs get stuck in your head whether you want them to or not. (My apologies now for It’s a Small World being stuck in your head for the rest of the day). But one of my favorite parts of the film is where Dick is talking about It’s a Small World and how it’s a prayer for peace as opposed to a silly novelty. Listen to the lyrics in their entirety some time.

Like all true behind the scenes work done about Disney, it’s not all about the music and the pixie dust. The story of Bob and Dick Sherman or The Boys as they were called around the studio is rather tragic. As close as they seemed as a song writing dynamic duo for the ages, they are incredibly distant. In fact, after they stopped writing for the studio, they stopped speaking or really interacting outside of that required for polite society gatherings until the making of the documentary. Their sons barely knew each other until they sort of rediscovered each other while making this film. It’s a very true representation of what naturally happens when you put two very brilliant people in the same room for too long.

The movie tells of their struggles to succeed apart from one another in their respective fields of composition and writing. Dick wanted to be a composer for concert halls and Bob wanted to write the great American novel. Their father finally challenged them by saying that if they put their talents together he bet that they couldn’t come up with a good song. Well, we all know what happens when we are challenged…and so the dynamic musical duo of Disney was born.

It’s a beautiful story of how even if people don’t get along personally, they might still be brilliant business partners. It also does an amazing job of describing the phenomenon of the emotional artist. It’s well known that while all artists have art as their creative outlet, it’s occasionally hard for us to keep our emotions in check and sometimes artists lash out at those closest to them. You get the feeling that the results of artists are beautiful but the artists themselves can be hard to live with. IMG_3039

It’s also unfortunately clear that Walt was one of the things that held the Sherman brothers together and when he passed away, it was too much for the boys to handle and that was definitely on of the things that drove them apart. They no longer had the magical glue that inspired them to create such beautiful music. It’s beautiful when they say that they believed they were writing songs that would not last. They believed that they would fade into history when in fact, they are so beautifully simple and singable that they have become timeless treasures. They are still surprised at how much their music is engrained in the hearts of people of all ages all over the world. Unfortunately we only have one of the great Sherman brothers alive with us today. Bob Sherman passed away in 2012, but he left a collection of paintings here as his legacy along with his music. He used painting as a way to cope with the intense pain of having fought in WWII and the results are breath taking.

I loved every part of this movie and it was truly an eye opening experience to learn about the difficult story of the legendary Sherman brothers, or the Boys. There are so many beautiful stories in the film and it’s a great companion to another Disney documentary, Waking Sleeping Beauty. Both tell the hard but true story of the great Disney heritage that we still enjoy today! I sifted through quite a few library shelves to find this one and I’m sure glad I did. “There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow shining at the end of every day”. Keep sifting through shelves!

Historic Windermere- Ellie Project Adventure 1

Not that long ago, I took my first trip under what I’m calling the Ellie Project (Description here). I went to the historic section of a town called Windermere in the Orlando, FL area. I had driven through the area many times SONY DSCgetting to the mall or getting to the museum in Orlando. I loved driving through the area because it always kind of looked like time had left it behind. The cars always seemed a bit out of place as did the music that was playing in my car. I decided to go to Windermere pretty much on a whim one day after I completed my new hire paperwork for my new job. However, the video got corrupted and is gone, I do have a little bit. This area is seriously a gem in its own right. It contains a beautiful memorial to 9/11 created by a local Eagle Scout in memory of the many countries that lost citizens in the 9/11 attacks on New York City. There is a tile dedicated to each country that lost their people. 

Windermere alSONY DSCso has a historic library, a preserved school building a beautiful library and the original town hall. I took pictures of all of it and spent a fair amount of time just walking around. I managed to acquire an Orange County Library card which makes me a Floridian I guess. I hope you enjoy the pictures and can feel the same amount of history surrounding the area as I did. I love historic towns and hope to visit lots more of them! All of the photos are published in the gallery called My Digital Adventure Book. Adventure is out there, off we go! 

This Hipster Historian’s Opinion on July 4th and America’s Obsession with It

Ok so…July 4th is always called the Birthday of our Country in America…as a woman who majored in early American history I beg to differ.

We will keep with the birthday analogy for the sake of the argument.

First of all…the Continental Congress voted on separation and freedom from England on July 2nd. It was on July 4th (which is why the document is dated July 4th) that the final version of the wording was agreed upon in Congress. If John Adams were alive today (after FREAKING OUT) he would tell you that independence day was yesterday. Most of the signers did not sign until August of 1776 but the Declaration was read to the public in Independence Square on July 8 of ’76.   We shall name the Continental Congress meeting in 1774 the sexual consent if you will. Ok…and…we will call the unanimous vote on July 2 the pregnancy test and YAY it’s positive! The colonies are pregnant with a country! We will call July 8 the announcement to the general public, the family if you will. Friends in the colonies take it fairly well…while the parents in England are a bit upset about the whole ordeal. Though it’s a bit early in the pregnancy to be telling people, the colonies of America have said to the world “We are pregnant with a country that we hope will be free from England!”

It’s a rough pregnancy, tarring and feathering (It’s almost like I watched the John Adams tv show), and nasty correspondence back and forth with the mother country telling this teenager that she’s too rebellious and young to have a country of her own! (And in all fairness, the Articles of Confederation were the early American history equivalent of Teen Mom).

Finally…after a Massacre in Boston,  some beat downs by the British and a lot of tea in Boston Harbor…America’s water broke at the battle of Saratoga when the colonies finally began to push out this nation of their own. The colonies pushed (hehe) through Valley Forge with the help of Doctor (ok not really but just go with the analogy) George Washington. When we finally won our infant of a nation, the British weren’t even really in the delivery room. (Cornwallis did not attend the surrender at Yorktown). This will forever be why I don’t think July 4 should really be America’s birthday. October 19, 1781…the day the British surrendered to America should really be the day for that… I’m not going to say that my argument is perfect… far from it as I wrote this post rather quickly and the dates of some events through a bit of a wrench into my story but…my birthday was yesterday…that day I was actually born and breathing in the world…not the day that my mom took a pregnancy test…

If you read the link I’m going to post…the founding fathers almost forgot about the 1 year anniversary of the Declaration…

http://blog.constitutioncenter.org/2014/07/when-is-the-real-independence-day-july-2-or-july-4/