Saturday Scenes

Thu 25 November 2010


Filed under: #satscene —— Sylvia @ 18:44

On the 20th of November 1820, an American whaleship called the Essex was following a pod of whales 2,000 nautical miles west of South America. They used three smaller whaleboats to hunt the whales. First Mate Owen Chase returned to the Essex to repair his boat when they were attacked.

BBC – h2g2 – The Wreck of the Whaleship Essex – A671492

While he worked, Chase became aware of a huge whale, of some 85 feet in length, swimming in the water 100 feet away from the Essex. As he and the crew watched in alarm, the whale then proceeded to charge the Essex, and struck the bow of the vessel with sufficient force to knock some of the crew from their feet. The crew watched again in disbelief as the whale charged the ship a second time. This impact was hard enough to put a hole in the Essex below the water line. It is not clear why the whale attacked the Essex at all, though it seems likely that by pure chance, Chase’s hammering on the deck may have sent signals through the hull of the ship to the whale.

The crew abandoned the sinking ship and escaped on the smaller whaleboats. They made it to Henderson Island before they ran out of provisions but they quickly realised there was not enough food on the island to keep them alive. Most of them returned to the boats to search for further islands although three men remained on the island.

Essex (whaleship) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

One by one, the men of the Essex died. The first were sewn in their clothes and buried at sea, as was the custom. However, with food running out, the men resorted to cannibalism in order to survive, consuming the corpses of their dead shipmates. Towards the end of the ordeal, the situation in Captain Pollard’s boat became quite critical. The men drew lots to determine who would be sacrificed for the survival of the crew. A young man named Owen Coffin, Captain Pollard’s young cousin, whom he had sworn to protect, drew the black spot. Lots were drawn again to determine who would be Coffin’s executioner. His young friend, Charles Ramsdell, drew the black spot. Ramsdell shot Coffin, and his remains were consumed by Pollard, Barzillai Ray, and Charles Ramsdell. Some time later, Ray also died. For the remainder of their journey, Pollard and Ramsdell survived by gnawing on the bones of Coffin and Ray. They were rescued by the Nantucket whaling ship Dauphin, 95 days after the Essex sank. Both men by that time were so completely dissociative that they did not even notice the Dauphin alongside them.

The first mate, Owen Chase, was rescued on another boat along with two others. They reported that there were three further sailors stranded on Henderson Island, who were rescued as well. In the end, eight sailors survived, and of the thirteen deaths, seven of the sailors had been eaten.

How does this relate to Saturday scenes? Well, some time later, Henry Melville met the son of Owen Chase on the whaler Achushnet and received a copy of the First Mate’s Narrative of the Most Extraordinary and Distressing Shipwreck of the Whale-Ship Essex. He has acknowledged that this true story was the inspiration for Moby-Dick.

This just goes to show that the most trivial of incidents can lead to classic inspiration. Isn’t that motivational?

On the 20th of November, 2010, these possibly historically significant photographs were taken:

The more people you follow, the more fun Twitter is. I think you should all follow all of our adventurous photographers all over the world:

Have you got a camera or a smart phone?

You should take a photograph on Saturday. It’s easy to join us!

Simply send a tweet to @SatScenes with the url and the location and all the rest happens automatically!

I’m looking forward to seeing your Saturday Scene in the next edition!

Thu 18 November 2010

How Not To Treat Foreign Visitors to Your Country

Filed under: #satscene —— Sylvia @ 11:44

On the 13th of November 1002, King Ethelred the Unready’s order for the slaughter of all the Danes in the Kingdom of England was carried out.

Britannia: The AngloSaxon Chronicle

A.D. 1002 This year the king and his council agreed that tribute should be given to the fleet, and peace made with them, with the provision that they should desist from their mischief. Then sent the king to the fleet Alderman Leofsy, who at the king’s word and his council made peace with them, on condition that they received food and tribute; which they accepted, and a tribute was paid of 24,000 pounds. In the meantime Alderman Leofsy slew Eafy, high-steward of the king; and the king banished him from the land. Then, in the same Lent, came the Lady Elfgive Emma, Richard’s daughter, to this land. And in the same summer died Archbishop Eadulf; and also, in the same year the king gave an order to slay all the Danes that were in England. This was accordingly done on the mass-day of St. Brice; because it was told the king, that they would beshrew him of his life, and afterwards all his council, and then have his kingdom without any

The date (13 November) was the feast day of Saint Brice of Tours. Brice initially came to attention when a nun in his household became pregnant and he was rumoured to be the father. Supposedly, he asked the newborn if he was the father and the babe made a sound which he stated sounded like “No”. He then carried hot coal in his coat to the grave of a martyr and then showed that the coat was unblemished and the fabric had not burned as proof of his innocence. It is said that the townspeople of Tours remained unconvinced.

Perhaps Ethelred should have chosen a more auspicious date. The St. Brice’s Day Massacre resulted in the murder of many townsfolk and St Frideswide’s church in Oxford was burned down when the Danes tried to take refuge within it. The Danes invaded in revenge the following year and their persecution led to Ethelred fleeing the country and King Sweyn I of Denmark crowned King of England.

So our theme for next week is “Be Nice to Danes” … just in case.

On the 13th of November 2010, twenty great photographs were shared as Saturday Scenes. No Danes were damaged in the process:

There are our intredid photographers of the week:

If you know any Danes, why not ask them to join in on the fun? Anyone from anywhere in the world can take part! All you have to do is take a photograph on Saturday and send it to @SatScenes to be included.

Wed 10 November 2010

The Sousaphone is Burning

Filed under: #satscene —— Sylvia @ 23:46

On the 6th of November 1854, John Philip Sousa was born in Washington, DC. When he was 13, his Portuguese father enlisted him into the U.S. Marine Corps in order to stop him from joining the circus. Presumably traumatised for life, Sousa went on to become famous as “the March King” when he organised his own marching band after leaving the US Marine Band. He is credited with having popularised the sousaphone, also known as a “marching brass bass”, which was created by J. W. Pepper using Sousa’s suggestions and then recreated by C. G. Conn with further modifications requested by Sousa.

David Silverman, director of The Simpsons, considered that the sousaphone could use further improvement and decided that what the world really needed was one with flames coming out of the top.

Tubatron: HOWTO make and play a flaming tuba (video) – Boing Boing

Yes, there were a few missteps. We had the pipe soldered on at the top – and found the heat melted the solder. (It only got me on the arm and the top of my head.) So, that was replaced by mechanically attaching the pipe. The solder around the lower part got weakened by my use of the trigger — so additional hose clamps were added. The tank gets FREEZING cold. (Liquid converts into a gas, creates a sudden drop in pressure – lowering the temperature.) So, wearing a Utilikilt helps insulate from that. Also, another friend on mine, Lou Genise, is a very talented leathersmith, and we are going to devise a harness to carry the tank more comfortably.

You can see a video of the fire-breathing sousaphone player on YouTube – ooops I did it again It’s quite amazing to watch:

And once you’ve recovered, you should take a look at these great photographs taken on the 6th of November 2010:

The amazing people who took these photographs are all on Twitter and happy to chat. Follow them and make new friends!

You should join us next weekend! It’s easy:

  1. Take a photograph on a Saturday
  2. Upload the photograph
  3. Send a tweet to @SatScenes with the url

I’m looking forward to seeing your Saturday Scene in the next edition!

Thu 4 November 2010

That Old Chestnut

Filed under: #satscene —— Sylvia @ 20:35

On the 30th of October in 1501, there was a party. Don Cesare Borgia held a very special supper in the Palazzo Apostolico, the Papal Palace in the Vatican. The event has become known as the Ballet of Chestnuts, a rather romantic name for an exceptional evening:

Banquet of Chestnuts – Wikipedia

Fifty prostitutes or courtesans were in attendance for the entertainment of the banquet guests. After the food was eaten, lamp stands holding lighted candles were placed on the floor and chestnuts strewn about. The clothes of the courtesans were auctioned; then the prostitutes and the guests crawled naked among the lamp stands to pick up the chestnuts. Immediately following the spectacle, members of the clergy and other party guests together engaged with the prostitutes in sexual activity. According to Burchard, “prizes were offered–silken doublets, pairs of shoes, hats and other garments–for those men who were most successful with the prostitutes”.

Having read that, I wanted more detail! It turns out that chestnuts, edible nuts produced by Fagaceae trees, come in multiple varieties. The European species, the sweet chestnut, is likely to have been the nuts used for this ballet. It’s interesting to find that the name for the fruit is “virtually identical in all of the most ancient languages of Central Europe: in Breton kistinen for the tree, and kistin for its fruit, in Welsh castan-wydden and sataen, in Dutch kastanje for both the tree its fruit, in Albanian gështenjë, and many others close to the French châtaigne and to the Latin name chosen for the genus.” Alexander the Great planted chestnut trees across Europe as he created his empire. It was a primary source of carbohydrates in forested communities in Europe until the introduction of potatoes.

I’ve nibbled on roasted chestnuts sold on wintry street corners but I had no idea that they were so interesting. Did you?

Meanwhile, on the 30th of October in 2010, festivities were possibly not quite as exciting as in 1501 but there were no old chestnuts in sight! Take a look:

If you are interested and would like to do more, you could do worse than to follow these trendsetters:

You can also keep track of everyone at once by checking out the Saturday Scenes list including all of our participants.

If you’d like to join in, just take a photograph on Saturday and tweet it to @SatScenes with the location! We’d love to see your corner of the world.

Powered by WordPress WPMU Theme pack by WPMU-DEV.