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Posts Tagged ‘Syracuse’

false-news-1903I’ve been saying for while that fake news is a dangerous thing.  And it turns out that it has been killing people for over a century.

And I have the proof.

While going through some old family genealogy, I came across this story about a great-uncle of mine from three generations back.  His name was Sylvester Odell and he was a fairly well-to-do farmer in Central NY  who was about 77 years old in 1903.   Like the Britney Spears item from earlier this week, a rumor began and spread through social media that Sylvester had died. Of course, social media at that time consisted of the mail, telegraph, an occasional telephone and yelling out to your neighbor.

But even so, the rumor spread quickly.

Friends and family gathered and headed out to Sylvester’s farm where they found him alive and well.  In fact, he was doing his normal chores in his barn.  Everyone breathed a sigh of relief then shared a big laugh.  A few hours after everyone in the party had left, a still surprised Sylvester sat in his chair and passed away.

He just couldn’t take the news of his own death.

Damn fake news!

The news of his actual death after the false report made all of the newspapers around the state.  Even when reporting the facts, some of the newspapers still got parts of the story wrong.  For example, the item above is from the Syracuse Telegram.  It gives the location of the story as Dresden when in fact Sylvester lived ( and died!) in Dryden. False or not, we seem to have trouble getting the story straight.

So there you have it, proof positive that fake news kills.  Be careful out there, folks.

 

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Monster Movie MatineeThis is a repost of one of my more popular posts.  I still get people contacting me who have come across this and have memories of Monster Movie Matinee, the Syracuse-based show that ran for many years at 1 PM on Saturdays.  In the years since this ran back in 2009, a documentary has been made which chronicles the show and its effect on the many kids who found themselves glued to the couch watching classic (and not so classic) horror films.  More clips and photos have come to light including the intro at the bottom.  If you are interested in the documentary you can get more info at its Facebook page, Monster Mansion Memories.

Hope you have a very scary Halloween! Or not– it’s not necessarily a holiday suited to everybody’s taste.

Monster Movie Matinee 1With Halloween falling on a Saturday this year, my mind switches back to past Halloweens and all the things that go with them.  Part of my normal Saturday routine growing up was to be in front of the TV at 1 o’clock to watch Monster Movie Matinee, a show out of Syracuse that ran for a couple of decades and showed classic ( and not so classic, as the years went by) horror and sci-fi movies.

It was a great kitschy broadcast.  It would start with the camera panning in over an obvious model of an haunted-type mansion on a hill as eerie monster movie music played.  It was hosted by Dr. E. Nick Witty (I think this is supposed to be funny but it eludes me) and his assistant, the wretched Epal.Epal on Monster Movie MatineeYou never saw anything of Dr. Witty but his long emotive fingers.  His voice was kind of a bad Bela Lugosi copy that played perfectly for this type of show.  Epal, played by the station’s longtime weatherman who also played other characters (his other main character,Salty Sam, introduced me to Popeye cartoons) on a number of other shows, was covered in rough-edged scars and wore an eyepatch.  He seemed to constantly erode as the years passed.

They had storylines that they used as they introduced the films, little vignettes that ran from week to week.  Goofy stuff but fun.  They let the movies they showed be the real stars and I saw most of the greats through them.  All the Frankenstein, Dracula and Wolfman movies were in regular rotation in the early years mixed in with a plethora of lower quality, monstery B-movies, which kind of took over in the later years.

215px-Creature_from_the_Black_Lagoon_posterI remember one wet and dark Halloween Saturday back then spending the afternoon watching one of my favorites with Dr. Witty and Epal.  It was The Creature From the Black Lagoon.  It was a movie that was shown at least a few times a year so it became part of the kid memory bank.  It was the story of a group of geological researchers sent to explore a fossilized skeletal claw-like hand found up the Amazon where they encounter the Creature, a rubber-clad Gill-Man who makes repeated attacks on the research vessel, finally abducting the babe girlfriend of the main scientist.

Originally in 3-D in the theaters, was a pretty stylish 50’s monster movie.  Pretty good quality, actually.  The Creature was a great costume, very sleek and somewhat believable- at least to the kid sitting on the couch with the Fig Newtons.  It had nice underwater photography of the Creature gliding after his prey and also had great sound and music that really enhanced the story.  It wasn’t the scariest but it kept you involved with the story.   I always felt more of a connection with the Creature than I did with the crew of researchers and actually felt myself kind of rooting for him at times.  Much like King Kong, he seemed sadly alone.

That wet and dark Saturday many years ago seems to come to life now whenever I think of the Creature or Halloween, for that matter.  I remember the light.  The smell of that living room. Funny how certain things, even the smallest trivialities, imprint on the memory  when coupled with something important, as Halloween was to a kid.

Today I’m thinking of that day and that lonely Gill-Man and Dr. Witty…

 

 

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Millet- The Gust of WindIn reading yesterday’s paper, I came across an article describing an exhibition opening at the Everson Museum in Syracuse called From Turner to Cezanne: Masterpieces of the Davies Collection.  It is in Syracuse until the beginning of next year when it moves to the Corcoran in Washington, DC.  The exhibit features works from many of the greats- Renoir, Monet and Van Gogh, to name a few.

The thing that caught my eye though, was this painting by Jean-Francois Millet, The Gust of Wind.  There was a real familiarity in seeing it and I immediately recognized the similarity of this piece with the compositions of a number of my paintings.  The tree blown to one side from the wind.  The way the tree sits at the top of the hillock.  Even the shape of the ground and the way it dominates the picture plane.

Of course, I could do this with many, many paintings by a variety of painters.  It’s a simple composition of a tree on a rise, after all.  But because it was Millet, it struck me because I have always so admired his work and often felt a kinship to it.  As a youth, a piece of his at our local museum, the Arnot, was always a favorite.  His paintings of field workers always drew me in with their sweeping fields and expansive skies.

Millet-  The SowerAnd then there was The Sower.

The Sower was arguably Millet’s most famous image, a simple depiction of a farmer spreading seed.  It has great motion and a  beautiful diagonal line through the sower’s body.  Like the painting above, there has always been a sense of familiarity with this image.  I have memories of a pair of bronze bookends from my childhood, probably from a garage sale and now long lost, that had the image of The Sower on them.  Something in that figure clicked in me even then and I have always responded when seeing it.

This image was further immortalized by Van Gogh in several of his paintings, one a pure copy albeit in his own distinctive style.

Millett After   Van GoghMillett's Sower Van Gogh

Seeing Millet’s figure in Van Gogh’s paintings made a huge impression on me many years ago.  It triggered a chain of creative impulses that I still feel to this day.  Seeing The Gust of Wind in the paper brought them back to the surface for me and I may well be working off this little surge of inspiration for weeks or months to come.

So, if you get a chance check out the exhibit and the Millet…

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