Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Off-Topic: The Martyrdom of Saint Agatha

(This was originally posted in a different blog.  This is one of my favorite entries, so I thought I'd post it here as well.  I have made a few changes to the original.)

St. Agatha, Francisco de Zurbaran 1630-33

Dear Virgin and Martyr, whom the Church recalls in her liturgy, you heroically resisted the temptations of a degenerate ruler. Subjected to long and horrible tortures, you remained faithful to your heavenly Spouse. Saint Peter, we are told, gave you some solace and so you are invoked by nurses. Encourage them to see Christ in the sick and to render true service to them. Amen
- Prayer to Saint Agatha
As you can probably guess from the prayer.  The lovely lady in the painting is Saint Agatha who was born in Catania, Sicily around 231 CE and died around 251 CE.

You might be wondering about that plate she's carrying. You might be even thinking, "are those . . .?"

Those are breasts. Her breasts.

Saint Agatha of Sicily, Orazio Riminaldi, 1625

I first learned about St. Agatha in 6th grade, during Sunday school, during a Catholic sex ed class.

According to legend, Saint Agatha was a beautiful young noble woman, who have devoted her life to Christ. Unfortunately she caught the eye of a Roman prefect. When she turned down his sexual advances, he turned her over to a brothel in hopes they would teach her a thing or two.

But Agatha wasn't having any of it. She was a chaste, servant of God, and that was it.  The prefect could go jump in a lake. 

Instead of jumping in a lake, the prefect had her tortured.  One of the most significant acts was her breasts were cut off.

Now according to Catholic writings St. Peter cured her, and made her breasts grow back. She continued to be tormented in other nasty ways (including being rolled naked in a bed of hot coals), until she died in prison.

She is the patron saint of many things, including bell makers (because her amputated breasts look like bells), rape victims, torture victims, and more recently, breast cancer patients.

There's even a cupcake type confection named after her, Capezzoli di St Agatha.

In art, St. Agatha is often portrayed carrying her breasts on a platter:

Other depictions choose to show her with simply an instrument of her torture:

There are also depictions of St. Agatha during her torture. Like this one by Sebastiano del Piombo:

The Martyrdom of Saint Agatha, Sebastiano del Piombo. 1519

The leering men. The way that one man (the prefect?) leans back as he watches. And there's the look on her face; it seems to be a mix of pain and rapture. Look at her line of sight; she isn't looking at any of them. There's part of me that wonders if people got off on pictures like this.

Of the images I've seen, my favorite one is probably by Giovanni Tiepolo:

The Martyrdom of Saint Agatha, Giovanni Tiepolo, 1756

I like the rough quality of the painting. I like the way the whiteness of her skin contrasts with the rest of the painting. The look on her face is less about religious ecstasy, then asking "why?"

When I related this story to a friend she asked "so what's the moral? Turn down a guy and have your boobs cut off?"

The moral, is that despite being raped and tortured, Agatha refused to give up her commitment to God. If you read any stories of various Catholic Saints, you'll find that they place a fairly strong emphasis on female chastity. Tale, after tale involves women going through horrible lengths to remain chaste. And while the male saints often have equally gruesome ends, and while many of them took a pledge to remain virgins as well, their chastity is often a side-note, and not a primary reason for their persecution. 

One has to remember that these tales emerged from pretty horrible times. Disease was rampant, if you lived past five you were lucky, or perhaps unlucky. You worked until you fell over dead. And it was even worse if you were a woman. Rape law? Non-existent. Father wants you to marry some ugly, diseased troll. Tough luck. But you had one thing, the promise of heaven.

St. Agatha might have been horribly tortured, but God rewarded her. And she had cupcakes named after her.*

*I really want to figure out how to make those things.

Quote of the Week

Murder is always a mistake - one should never do anything one cannot talk about after dinner

- Oscar Wilde

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Day of Rest: There is A Kingdom.

It was Nick Cave's 54th birthday on the 22rd.  So in honor of that, I'm posting this wonderful song.

Still working on the "project".  I will probably have more free time this upcoming month, which means I'll have more time to research and work on this blog.  Have a good rest of the day!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

TV Set

Campy, gory, horror inspired, psychobilly fun courtesy of the Cramps.  How'd he kill her?  Why did he kill her?  We don't know.  What we do know is that Lux Interior is pretty creative when it comes to a corpse.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Buenas Noches from a Lonely Room (She Wore Red Dresses)

From the long proud history of "she broke my heart, so I broke her neck" type songs, comes Dwight Yoakam's Buenas Noches from a Lonely Room (She Wore Red Dresses).  It was the fourth single off the album of the same name and the lowest charter (link), which doesn't surprise me.  It's a great song, but songs about spousal murder don't always go over that well.

While much detail is paid to the woman, the way she made him suffer, and her oh so lovely red dresses, the description of the murder is short, matter of fact, with a tinge of dark humor.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Quotes of the Week - Karla Faye Tucker, Richard Thornton

Yes sir, I would like to say to all of you — the Thornton family and Jerry Dean’s family — that I am so sorry. I hope God will give you peace with this. Baby, I love you. Ron, give Peggy a hug for me. Everybody has been so good to me. I love all of you very much. I am going to be face to face with Jesus now. Warden Baggett, thank all of you so much. You have been so good to me. I love all of you very much. I will see you all when you get there. I will wait for you.
                                                     - Karla Faye Tucker, Final Statement

Make no mistake, this is not Karla Faye Tucker's day, this is Deborah Ruth Davis Thornton's day.
                                                       - Richard Thornton


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Day of Rest:Take Your Burden To the Lord And Leave It There

My ad­vice to you is put all your trou­bles in a sack, take ’em to the Lord, and leave ’em there.
- Charles Albert Tindley (Link)

It's lovely where I am.  Going to be pulling in a few extra shifts at work for the next two weeks, but I will continue to try to write and post when I can.

Have a good Sunday!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Off-Topic: I Spit On Your Grave

The following image is NSFW.  Meaning it's Not Safe For Work.  The following image is also tacky, tasteless and downright immature.

So click at your own risk.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Gillian Welch - Caleb Meyer

A fine blend of storytelling and music.  I love these two.

I think that in another life Gillian Welch and David Rawlings made moonshine deep in the Appalachian mountains. Or they handled snakes.  The song is from Welch's 1998 album Hell Among the Yearlings, but it seems far older then that.  Effortlessly so.  Nothing about it seems forced or fake to me. The old ghosts flow from them.  A perfect song.

As for Caleb, he kind of deserved it, no?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Quote of the Week- 9/13/11

“I'm the most cold-hearted son-of-a-bitch you'll ever meet.”

- Ted Bundy

Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, Murder Ballads: 1. Song of Joy

After much stalling, nail biting, and procrastinating The Murder Ballads project finally begins!  I plan to cover every song on Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds' classic album, Murder Ballads.  Enjoy.

Have mercy on me sir
Allow me to impose on you
I have no place to say
And my bones are cold right through

I'm a big fan of story songs; ballads that tell a tale.  Which is one thing I love about Nick Cave; he's a expert storyteller.  This song, and the album are perfect examples of that.

In "Song of Joy", the lyrics and music come together to create a vivid picture. When I listen to it, I can feel the cold, see the stranger on the porch, his features barely visible in the dim light.  Listen to the stranger's story of love, loss and brutality.  Listen as Nick Cave talk-sings, as the menace in his voice and the music, slowly, painfully build to the last line:

 Do you sir have a room?
Are you beckoning me in?

When I first heard this song, I thought of the case of Jeffrey MacDonald, an Army doctor who was convicted of murdering his pregnant wife and two daughters. Maybe it was because of the line "I was visiting a sick friend/I was a doctor then" and the line about the killer writing on the walls in "the victims' blood". Granted "pig" wasn't exactly "quoting John Milton", but still. (McGinnis, Joe. Fatal Vision)

MacDonald blamed the murders on a "hippie cult", but the jury didn't buy it and convicted him.  He continues to profess his innocence.  (Link)

Nick Cave's killer of course roams free, and might be ready to kill again.  So are ya beckoning him in?

Hit it.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Get Your Gunn

Pseudo-morals work real well
On the talk shows for the weak
Selective judgements
And goodguy badges
Don't mean a fuck to me
- Marilyn Manson, Get Your Gunn

Okay everyone let's all take a nice deep breath, and prepare for the following article.  This article will mention, abortion.  By all means give your opinion, but please be civil.  

Oh and there's Marilyn Manson, but really, is anyone still shocked by him anymore?  

According to Marilyn Manson, Get Your Gunn was inspired by the 1993 murder of abortion provider Dr. David Gunn.(Link)  Gunn's killer Michael Griffin claimed he was acting on orders from God:

"For five hours that afternoon, Griffin stood outside The Ladies Center waiting for Gunn to leave. Griffin recalls: "I felt like I had another word from the Lord for him: that he was accused and convicted of murder and that his sentence was Genesis 9:6 'Whosoever sheds man's blood, by man his blood shall be shed.'" 
"Then, right before he got in his car, I said, 'David Gunn, are you going to kill children next week?' " Griffin claims that Gunn replied by saying, "Yeah. Probably."

Five days later, Griffin fired three .38caliber bullets into Gunn's back as the doctor got out of his car in the parking lot behind the offices of the city's other abortion clinic, Pensacola Women's Medical Services.  (Link)
I've pretty much been pro-choice since 6th grade.  I have this memory of being the only person who raised my hand in support of abortion during a current events discussion.  At age 15, this song pretty much represented everything I was angry about.  At this point in my life the lyrics seem a little bit, silly at times.  Still, listening to it takes me back to my dark little bedroom; writing bad poetry, jumping around, slamming doors etc.  Ah, memories.

There's also something in me that recognizes the song's rage.  The anger at the hypocrisy of it all.  On the day Dr. Tiller was murdered, I gave Get Your Gunn another listen.  Goddamn your righteous hand . . .

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Day of Rest : Washington Philips -What Are They Doing In Heaven Today?

Sorry for my absence.

Wow.  It's been almost a year.  Work, health and life got a little overwhelming for awhile.  But I'm back.

1. This will get finished, but instead of trying to cram it into one month, I'm going to try and post about it over a period of time.

2.  I will make an effort to actually post and not let this blog die like so many of my others.

3.  Can anyone explain what the heck this person is talking about?

Are you saying that DR. BALL puts " to do" ads in newspapers?And you are all working with the UN?For heroin and AK's?SONGS OF MURDER will NOT be helpful to you when your name arises with Penn.

I'm so confused.