Here’s your open thread for January 27, 2020.
Today is the birthday of Jerome Kern, who wrote something like 700 songs, dozens of which live on as standards. Kern was a composer, not a lyricist, so if you want to hear Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers sing Dorothy Fields’ lyrics to Kern’s melody, click here. If you just want to watch Fred and Ginger dance to the song, see below:
(It’s also the birthday of Margo Timmins of Cowboy Junkies, but as lovely as her Tiny Desk Concert is, I thought Fred & Ginger might be a better way of kickstarting our Monday morning.)
On the Episcopal liturgical calendar, today is the feast day of saints Lydia, Dorcas, and Phoebe. These are all women who make brief appearances in the New Testament as leaders in their respective communities and in the early church. Lydia, we’re told, was a merchant, the head of her household, and both a convert and supporter of Paul’s missionary work. Dorcas was a pillar of her community — someone her town and local church found indispensable. And Phoebe was a deacon in the early church — although the church has, in the centuries since, worked hard to translate away her title and leadership by inventing something other and lesser, called a “deaconess,” which wasn’t a thing.
Lydia is sometimes called the first “European” convert in the early church, and Phoebe was from Greece, so those two are, arguably, the closest thing to white people anywhere in the Bible. (Whiteness wasn’t invented until more than a thousand years later, and the “white” status of Greeks and Turks in places like America remains contingent and disputed. And also looking for white people in the Bible would be a really messed up thing to do, morally, theologically, and chronologically. But there you go.)Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which, as Yonat Shimron writes for RNS, is increasingly important given that Americans seem to be getting better at forgetting and worse at remembering: “What do Americans know about the Holocaust? Some, not much.”
The Pew Research pop quiz Shimron cites is a somewhat helpful metric, but I think a more vital measure of Americans’ remembrance and understanding of the Holocaust would involve asking about their current attitude toward refugees fleeing violence and death.
Finally, today is also the 51st birthday of Patton Oswalt. His stand-up is always terrific, and he’s a force to be reckoned with on Twitter, but he’s also one of the hardest-working people in show business — racking up more than 200 IMDB credits, including this glorious high-wire-act guest appearance on Parks and Rec. Major kudos to all the extras who stayed in character in the background here:
Talk amongst yourselves.