Posts Tagged ‘October 31’

Queer Eye for the Strait Cathedral

Posted in General, On This Day on October 31st, 2014 by Eugene Finerman – Be the first to comment

October 31, 1517:   Professor Luther Defaces a Church Door

With all his Teutonic subtlety, Professor Martin Luther hammered on the doors of Wittenburg Cathedral his challenge to the Church.  His “95 Theses” was a list of questions on the issue of Indulgences.  The list could be summarized:   Is the Pope a complete moron or just a shameless thief? For some reason, the Church declined the debate.

Why was the Church selling Indulgences? It wanted the money, of course. You can’t have a Renaissance on a medieval budget. Michelangelo was not cheap, and Raphael could charge even more because he was likable. The Church was undergoing a major redecorating binge….

And now from the video archives: here is “This Old Basilica”:old st teeters finished c

Julius II: I think that this 1200 year-old church needs some work. I am asking the best artists of the Renaissance for their advice.

Leonardo: It is a camp pastiche. A little Byzantine here, a dab Gothic there, a soupcon Romanesque and mustn’t ignore the retro classic.

Bramante: It is also collapsing.

Julius: All right. Let’s build a new one.

Michelangelo: If you want any sculpting done, fine. Otherwise, I might beat you to death.

Julius: That is a fine way to talk to the Vicar of Christ, especially when I am dying of syphilis.

Leonardo: I think that the new cathedral should fly–a transfiguration motif. I will need at least six years to come up with the right shade for the blueprints.

Julius: Leonardo, the word genius doesn’t do you justice. I believe that the Greek words schizo and phrenia might be apt.

And now that we have torn down the old basilica, I have a little surprise: we can’t afford to build a new one! Maybe you should elect some rich idiot to succeed me….

Cardinal Giovanni de Medici: Hi, I was strolling by, trying to pick up altar boys, when I noticed a job posting for Pope. Let’s see the requirements: Catholics preferred and must be willing to bribe the College of Cardinals. I think that can be arranged. So now I am—

Pope Leo X: Bramante, love your plans. I still am not sure how we can afford it.

Bramante: You’re a de Medici. God borrows money from you.

Leo: Buying a Papal election is more expensive than you’d think. I guess that I could raise money by selling indulgences. No problem there. And I suppose that I could be polite to those pyromaniac lunatics in Spain–just in case they conquer any fabulously rich civilizations in the New World. On second thought, couldn’t you guys work in wood and wallpaper?

Spooky Halloween Stories

Posted in General on October 31st, 2010 by Eugene Finerman – 2 Comments

First, I assure you:  I do not greet the trick-or-treating children with offers to tell them about the Byzantine Empire.  Well, at least, not anymore.  My neighbors were upset when their children destroyed all the family photos.  I had intended my discussion on iconoclasm to be anecdotal, not a manual.  Seven-year olds may have missed that distinction.  And we no longer are on speaking terms with the Kalmans.  Little Beaumont was correctly practicing the Byzantine method of disinheriting a relative, but he really shouldn’t have tried cutting off his sister’s nose.  (And perhaps I shouldn’t have quipped that she would have needed the nose job anyway.)

Yet, we are not the worst house in the neighborhood!  Who is our competion?

There is the lady who has been trying to give out the same bag of Windmill cookies since 1973.

Then, there is the 50 year-old yenta who comes to the door dressed like a parody of a teenager.  That is the way she normally looks.  But what is especially terrifying is her perfume:  I believe that it called “Gardenia in a Drum”.  The scent comes off on you.  After a visit to her house, the children have to be bathed in tomato juice.

Finally, we know someone who gives as treats her son’s business cards.  All the more horrifying is that the name of his business is misspelled.  So much for his Stanford education.  However, since he is in finance, there is no reason for his grammar to be better than his ethics.

Of course, you think that I am joking.  Cue the Bernard Herrmann music played by a Theremin!   Two of these anecdotes are appallingly true, and one is just slightly exaggerated; only my Byzantine tales are apocryphal (although the little Kalman girl will need the nose job).

p.s.  Let’s not forget the historic significance of this day: