Friday, June 26, 2009

Footloose & Fancy-Free-For-All Friday

Sorry about the header, once I got going with the alliteration I couldn't stop.

Since it is Friday (and honestly, doesn't it seem like it's been kind of a tough week?) I thought I'd just mix it up a little. What follows will be a potpourri, a veritable grab-bag, if you will, of some random thoughts.

So late last night while I was NOT sleeping, I was reading book reviews from the Boston Globe. One review, by Joseph Rosenbloom, was a critique of Charles Pierce's Idiot America. A kind of funny review overall, but one line from the book leapt off the page..."Nominating Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as the Republican vice-presidential candidate was 'an insult on a par with the elevation of Caligula’s horse.'" Whoa...back up...Caligula's horse?? After four years of high school Latin (sorry to disappoint, Mr. Jewison) and countless years spent reading books about the ancient world, how did I not know the deal with Caligula and his horse, Incitatus? (see image at top--and I'm guessing they mean a jeweled bridle, not collar, but I won't quibble...)

For those of you who know the story...BRAVO. Here, is what I learned from a clever website called The Straight Dope:
"Several of the ancient sources make mention of Caligula's favorite horse, Incitatus, and how the emperor pampered it with a marble stable, an ivory manger, a jeweled collar, and invitations to banquets. Though not mentioned in the 1979 film, there is a persistent belief that Caligula made the horse a consul. Even the Encyclopedia Britannica once repeated this claim as fact, but has since retracted it. There is no basis in the sources to support the idea that the horse was ever actually elevated to the position. Dio and Suetonius do claim he promised to make the horse consul but died before he could fulfill his plan. Among the modern fictional works surveyed, only The Robe has Caligula actually elevating the horse to a consulship. I, Claudius has him make the horse a senator and nominate him for the consulship. If there is anything more than baseless rumor behind the idea that he promised to make the horse a consul, modern historians are inclined to treat it as a joke on Caligula's part rather than a serious vow."

An historical fun-fact for Footloose & Fancy-Free-For-All Friday!

I'll try to take some pictures while I'm at Belmont tomorrow, assuming I still remember how to use the Twitpic function on my BlackBerry. (How embarrassing would it be to not be able to use Twitpic...wouldn't it make you a real twit?) It's also likely that I'll be tweeting, so you can stop by and see what's up on my Twitter feed, too. It's ThePaperTyger (all one word, no spaces) and as I say, barring technical difficulties, I'll hope to have some fun photos. Lower those expectations, though, it's a BlackBerry, not a real camera.

All that said, I'm looking forward to being at the racetrack tomorrow. I don't know what the race schedule is like for Hollywood Park tomorrow so no idea of when Zenyatta's race will be, but I'll have to watch the replay of it when I get home as I don't spend much time inside by the simulcast televisions. I hope both girls have great race and that all tomorrow's competitors (and their brave jockeys) make it across the finish line safely.

In case Caligula wasn't enough history for y'all's Maira Kalman's wonderful essay Time Wastes Too Fast complete with her whimsical artwork and images of Jefferson's Monticello, one of my favorite places anywhere. Enjoy!

And a final thought, Requiescat in Pacem to Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, and Ed McMahon.

Happy Friday, wherever you are!!

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