Friday, March 20, 2015

A Day of Ups and Downs - March 19

Yesterday was the 91st anniversary of my Dad's birth.  Dad got married relatively late in life, and fathered my sister and me, six and a half years apart.  I never had children; I couldn't.  My sister, the elder, got married immediately after graduating from high school - but she waited a while before having her kids.  Dad died when I was 24, at the age of 57.  At that time, neither Kathy nor I was married; Dad had no grandchildren - and he dearly loved children.  Kathy had a son and a daughter with her second husband.  Evie, Dad's first great-grandchild, arrived on the same day as Prince George, of the British Royal family.  Yesterday, on Dad's birthday, his first great-grandson was born.  I think that Kathy and I were more excited by Finn's arrival date than his parents were - but then, Mike never knew his grandfather...  So, there was a new arrival of 19.5 inches of Snow in Boulder, Colorado yesterday, and his name is Finnley Kent.  That makes his initials FKS - I pronounce that Fix, and I hope he'll be able to fix things around the house for his old Auntie when he grows up a bit!
   I was sorry to hear that well-known thoroughbred trainer Allen Jerkens had passed away earlier this week.  He was known as "Chief" on the backside of the track, while most fans knew him as "the Giant Killer."  Chief's father was a retired Austrian cavalry officer, and Chief wanted to be a jockey, as a youngster. He grew too tall, and too heavy, and after a brief stint as a jump jockey, he settled down to training.  He got his "Giant Killer" nickname by training horses that unexpectedly beat big-name champions.  He trained Beau Purple, who defeated five time Horse of the Year Kelso; and, after the great Secretariat had won the Triple Crown, Jerkens trained both Onion and Prove Out, who defeated Big Red.  The Chief won over $104 million in purse money, and never ran a horse in the Breeders Cup.  He was 85 when he died from an infection in a Florida hospital.
   And I was totally engrossed by Vikings on the History Channel last night - I was completely drawn into the story, and felt like a participant in those events - until a time/history mistake happened near the end of the show.  I don't know why it disturbed me, but it it.  I realize that this is a fictionalized dramatization of the Saga of Ragnar Lodbrok, and that the old Scandinavian sagas play fast and loose with dates, places, and times.  In history, the Vikings first attacked the city of Paris in the year 723; in last night's episode, Ragnar stated that they would attack Paris in their next raid, in the Spring.  Near the end of the program, King Ecbert of Wessex is crowing over a very nasty betrayal of both the farming Vikings on his land, and a turn against his own nobles.  He compares himself to Charlemagne...  but Charlemagne was the King of the Franks and most of western Europe from 771 until 814.  How did writer Michael Hirst miss this?  Or was it a "dramatic twist" of history, as happened in Braveheart, where time was also twisted so that it could be assumed that Wallace was the real father of Edward III?   In any event, I felt as if a huge bucket of cold water had been dashed over me....  Maybe that's what happens when you know your history too well?

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