Here is your open thread for January 28, 2020.
Today is the 58th birthday of exvangelical icon and longtime Stars Hollow Town Troubadour Sam Phillips:
You may recognize Phillips’ distinct voice and sound from her long collaboration with Amy Sherman-Palladino scoring Gilmore Girls, Bunheads, and Mrs. Maisel. But white evangelicals of a certain age will remember that before she was Sam Phillips, she was Leslie Phillips — a CCM that the Christian-brand labels in NashVegas never quite knew what to do with. Phillips said goodbye to that world in 1987 with an exquisite farewell, The Turning, the start of a long musical (and marital) partnership with producer T-Bone Burnett. (The final lyric of her final album for the Christian music industry was “When you say your last goodbye.”)
Phillips changed her name, found her voice, and went from being a critical favorite on the fringes of the CCM scene to being a critical favorite on the fringes of the “alternative” singer-songwriter world. Along the way she even found the time to seek revenge for Hans Gruber as a mute terrorist in Die Hard With a Vengeance.
Today is also the birthday of Sarah McLachlan (52), Elijah Wood (39), and John Baskerville (313).
Today is the feast day of St. Thomas Aquinas, a day commemorated in the church by getting into really long arguments in which we painstakingly enumerate and then dismiss all of one another’s potential objections.
And it’s the birthday of Jackson Pollock. Someday I’m going to watch that 2000 Pollock biopic starring Ed Harris in the hopes that it will better help me to understand what’s going on in works like the one below, but I haven’t done that, so for now I still find this stuff beautiful but bewildering:January 28 is also the birthday of Johan van Hulst. Van Hulst was the director of the Reformed Teacher Training College, a seminary in Amsterdam adjacent to the grounds of a museum. In 1942, during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, that museum became the staging point for the deportation of Jewish children who would be sent to concentration camps. Van Hulst and his students rescued hundreds of children, a few at a time, sneaking them through the hedge at the back of the museum and providing them new identities so they could be hidden with Dutch families. Van Hulst and the others rescued more than 600 children.
Van Hulst was haunted for the rest of his long life — he died in 2018 at the age of 107 — by the memory of the children he hadn’t been able to save: “Try to imagine 80, 90, perhaps 70 or 100 children standing there, and you have to decide which children to take with you. […] That was the most difficult day of my life. […] You know for a fact that the children you leave behind are going to die. I took 12 with me. Later on I asked myself: ‘Why not 13?'”
Finally, today is also the last Tuesday in January, so today is Up Helly Aa in Lerwick in the Shetland Islands. I would explain what this entails, but like everyone else who is not from the Shetlands, I find the whole thing impenetrably bewildering. As the official tourist site explains: “The Jarl and Jarl Squad walk ‘up the ranks’ at 19:15, the Procession then lights up at 19:30. The Procession then proceeds along the route and the Galley and Guizers then enter the burning site.” OK, then. (Basically there are a bunch of people in Viking costumes and a Viking ship that is burned for a bonfire and lots of drinking and as far as I can tell it’s a pretty great party.)
Talk amongst yourselves.