Need an inspirational jolt – or just cheered up?
Susan Boyle on Britain’s Got Talent
Credit Due Department: Anjani clued me in to this video. Quoth she, “Against all odds…it’s never too late.”
Need an inspirational jolt – or just cheered up?
Credit Due Department: Anjani clued me in to this video. Quoth she, “Against all odds…it’s never too late.”
Karen Ferguson, your basic Illinois-bred, shaman-seeking, blues-loving, teacher burn-out/motorcycle chick who, in the midst of crisis of the soul, AKA her impending 40th high school reunion, found not Jesus but the Heck Of A Guy blog,2 took time before her 2 AM swim to forward a selection of photos that resonate with her life in Mérida, Yucatán, her home town of choice.
I’ve used her original blurbs from the email accompanying the pictures as captions for the photos rather than asking her to buff them into something fancier (she is, in fact, capable of writing elegant prose) because these quick and casual descriptions seem precisely fitting for the images and setting.
Click on images to enlarge.
Mascot Madness, an ongoing Heck Of A Guy series, chooses only the most blogworthy of mascots – those that are unusual, provocative, controversial, or just plain ol’ bizarre enough to (1) momentarily suspend the high velocity Brownian motion of the Heck Of A Guy editorial focus and (2) evoke the conviction that someone, somewhere, some day might somehow find reading about that specific school representative worth the time and effort.
Alternatively, mascots may enter the pantheon of Mascot Madness by qualifying as current events if they are in the news for, say, defiling the heritage of Native Americans …
The Fighting Okra of Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi, for example, certainly deserves recognition for its sui generis status and its connection to local agronomic practices and culinary preferences and perhaps merits a partial credit for the comic if a tad too obvious application of the rather common1 modifier, “Fighting,” to a vegetable.2
Yet, after these points are made, what is there to say about the Fighting Okra? Is there a sexually implicit double entendre involving okra and gumbo? Are there any ethnic groups likely to object to the use of okra in this manner as demeaning? Have there been vegetarian street demonstrations supporting or protesting the emblematic use of Abelmoschus esculentus?
Thus are the Fighting Okra assigned Honorable Mention.
Today’s spotlighted mascot, in contradistinction, offers a plethora of obnoxious, offensive, crudely humorous, sexually explicit, and possibly slapstick possibilities.
To begin, I ask the reader to consider his or her first reaction to the term “NADS.”
To some, that will call to mind the acronym for the non-profit entity, the National Association for Down Syndrome. Similarly, to others, those are the familiar initials of the award-winning National Advanced Driving Simulator at the University Of Iowa.
Still others will recognize “Nad’s,” a popular hair removal product.
Other possibilities include
To certain individuals who attended Junior High School during the 1950s or 1960s, however, “NADS” may well trigger memories of a joke, properly categorized as a groaner at least as far back as the 1950s, which postulated a team with the improbable name of “The Nads” exclusively to justify the punch line, itself only an excuse to verbalize a modestly inappropriate term,3 on the premise that the cheer for this team was – and here comes the punch line – “Go Nads.”
Well, it turns out that this set of circumstance is not just a joke. The wild and wacky kids at the Rhode Island School of Design, an institution which, according to Wikipedia, is considered to be one of the top fine arts schools in the nation,4 have brought the Nads to life (well, to mascot life).
Wikipedia points out that
Yearbooks and alumni reveal the RISD Student Association funded basketball teams throughout the 1950s and 1960s that were called the ‘Nads’. An ice hockey team formed soon after using the same name, ‘Nads’. The ice hockey team played through the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s with little record of other athletics. In 2000, a new basketball team was formed under the name ‘Balls’ to complement the ice hockey team, each with its own slogan: “When the heat is on, the Balls stick together,” and “Go Nads” (deliberately sounding like “gonads”). …
In 2001, the Nads created the infamous, and unofficial mascot, “Scrotie,” a man-sized penis wearing a red cape.
One assumes the highly crafted costume (note the detailed creases and veins of the scrotum) is a testimony to the enhanced skills of the artisans in training at the Rhode Island School of Design.
And, as one would expect, there is more. This excerpt from College Prowler is descriptive:
While serious athletics are pretty much out of the question at RISD, students definitely have fun with what they’ve got. Imagine during parents’ weekend, half the campus drunk and yelling obscenities at a team of completely bewildered ice-hockey players while a giant penis in a cape leads cheers from the sidelines. Often, the Jockstraps (cheerleading team) will rouse the RISD crowd into heckling some players so badly that fights ensue. Another rallying move is when Scrotie tries to ram the goalposts tip-first. (Some images really are worth 1,000 words.) Once in a while, there will be a scandal during which Scrotie has been kidnapped by an unnamed group. The ransom demands that all Nads players skate around the rink after the game in their underwear in order to retrieve their precious mascot. The following drawn-out drama will be involved and scandalous in order to fill the stands. The Nads sometimes score on themselves, but on the off chance that you do see them win, it’s not only a blast, but it’s totally priceless to see the look on the other teams’ faces. Nobody wants to get beaten by the Nads.
The Balls are a slightly different experience. There is no obscene mascot and profane cheerleading team, and most games appear to be fairly average, however, the advertising is uniquely RISD. While walking across campus, you may encounter several posters of our beloved President Roger Mandle nonchalantly cradling two basketballs to his chest and solemnly urging the RISD community to “Support Your Balls.” RISD sports gets an A for Amusement.
Maintaining the performance of a set of male reproductive organs that are occasionally put on display is, as any man can attest, no trivial matter. One can understand, then, that if the hopes and expectations of a university’s athletic program rise and fall with that set of genitals, protecting Scrotie’s role can become traumatic.
Heck Of A Guy observes, for example, that Scrotie seems to be reliably and admirably priapistic during game appearances, raising the question of drug use in athletics. Is Scrotie hooked on Viagra? If so, is medical assistance available should a mutiple overtime contest pass the four hour mark?
The Providence Phoenix outlines Scrotie’s public relations problem:
Athletic Support – RISD Hockey Mascot Gives Rise To Controversy
By Alex Carp
Where could you see a throng of pink-and-black spandex-clad male and female cheerleaders flaunting feather boas and screaming at college athletes, a man in an oversized penis costume sneaking into the crowd to dance, and fans holding up signs with off-color slogans? The Nads, the hockey club at the Rhode Island School of Design, played their final game of the 2003-2004 season at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center on April 9, but as usual, there was as much action in the stands as on the ice.
The Nads usually play at Brown University’s Meehan Auditorium. The game against rival Rhode Island College at the Dunk was a throwback to the glory days of 2000 and 2001, when then-mayor Buddy Cianci, a booster, got the players in the door and directed an occasional game from the bench, and the Nads’ mascot, Scrotie, a six-foot penis, could gyrate among the crowd, no questions asked.
Not so during the April 9 game, the first played downtown by the Nads since Buddy’s exit from Providence. His absence was perhaps most felt by RISD senior Bob St. Aubin, who had kept Nads’ games lively for the last three years from inside Scrotie, the giant foam-and-rubber caped mascot.
“Basically, they told us when we got there [the Dunkin’ Donuts Center] that if Scrotie made an appearance, they would stop the game immediately,” says Nads co-captain Noah Breuer. “Apparently, they had gotten a call earlier in the week from someone threatening to do something if Scrotie was there, saying something like, ‘They better not have that crazy penis mascot.’ If we had been in the lead in the third period, he might have made more of an appearance, but we were trying to catch up.”
After falling behind, 6-2, RISD made it competitive by the end of the third period, losing 8-6, to finish the season with an 11-7 record — a significant improvement from last season’s 0-16. “We rival any college hockey team,” crows co-captain Brian Chesky. “Maybe not in skill, but definitely in entertainment.” As if to prove this, the RISD-friendly crowd erupted into cheers — “Go Nads!” — whenever either team scored a goal. But did the absence of the Nads’ ostensible star attraction ruin the show?
Not to worry. St. Aubin, clad in khakis and a T-shirt, made a spectacle of himself by dancing with the cheerleaders, crowd, and the players. Disappearing during the third period, he dramatically returned just after the final buzzer, running through the crowd and down to the benches in a new Scrotie costume completed days before the game. (St. Aubin had patched a number of rips and dents resulting from a fight with a fan during a game against Massachusetts Maritime Academy.)
Scrotie didn’t get too far, however, and was quickly accosted by security staff and RIC players, and forced to disrobe in a melee near the ice. “I went to take off the costume and somebody hit me with a stick or something, and the costume ripped,” says St. Aubin. “All these security guards were all around me, and I didn’t even do anything.” Commenting on the debacle after the game, a member of the security staff said, “That [costume] is a little bit of profanity, and this is a family establishment.”
St. Aubin, who is due to graduate this spring, is confident, though, that Scrotie will live on. “I’m ready to pass on the torch,” he says, speaking after the game. “I’m going to have interviews for the new Scrotie next week.”
It may not surprise returning readers to learn that Heck Of A Guy has devised a potential solution to this issue. I can’t go into detail at this point, but it does involve convincing The University of Akron’s athletic teams to revert from their current sobriquet, “Zips,” to their original name, “Zippers.”
Previous Mascot Madness Posts:
Today’s post is a cautionary tale that is part of the 2009 update of my seminal tripartite publication on mascots.1
While one might think the previous mascot-oriented posts, which included the interview between Purdue Pete and the Stanford Tree, the forced retirements of Chief Illiniwek from the University Of Illinois, Elon University’s Fightin’ Christians, and the Crusaders of Wheaton College, the courage of the Hickman High Kewpies, the legacy of the Evergreen State College Geoducks, the imagined contest between the Huskers and the Jerkers, and the one and only Bagpipe-Playing Thunder Chicken, covered all the fundamental issues of mascotedness, one would, inevitably, be wrong.
Consider this episode mascots, money, mustache, and mayhem.
Utah State benched its mascot for Saturday night’s championship game between the Aggies and Nevada a day after “Big Blue” the bull and New Mexico State’s “Pistol Pete” got physical with each other near the end of a semifinal matchup in the Western Athletic Conference basketball tourney.
During a timeout with 7 seconds left and NMSU leading Utah State 70-69, Big Blue confronted the cowboy mascot and ripped off his fake mustache after a man wearing a Nevada shirt at the game offered $100 to the student in the costume modeled after Paul Bunyan’s Blue Ox if he would do so.
The cowboy then chased the bull to half court, jumped on his back and tried unsuccessfully to pull him to the floor. He then started to try to choke his rival before retreating to his end of the court. Moments later, Utah State’s Tyler Newbold hit a 15-foot shot with 3.1 seconds remaining to defeat NMSU 71-70.
… The man confirmed to The Associated Press Friday night that he did in fact pay the mascot the $100, but declined to provide his name. He said he did not expect the NMSU mascot to respond the way he did.
There are photos of the tussle.
I’ve added the red circles to point out a couple of interesting responses to the donnybrook. On the reader’s right, the official at the scorer ‘s table manages to focus exclusively on his work (or whatever is directly before him) despite the immediately adjacent ruckus, which features, one notes, a masked cowboy in leather vest and chaps attempting to grab a blue bull by the neck, something rarely seen in these parts except on Gay Pride Parade floats. Somewhat less surprising is the guy in the uniform and badge (on the reader’s left) who, the fuzzy image notwithstanding, seems bemused and clearly does not appear to be sprinting to break up the fray.
As for this photo of – ah, … well, there is just something terribly wrong about whatever is being depicted.
We can, of course, all empathize with the ultimate victim of this melee – the gentleman who innocently offered $100 for the depilation of Mr. Pete’s upper lip only to see his newly hired agent, Mr. Ox, having accepted the contract, behave in the most unexpected and, no doubt, disheartening manner.
After all, who among us hasn’t, during a closely fought basketball tournament semi-final game, sensing that the one missing element in the otherwise perfect setting was an instance of good natured mascot hijinks, negotiated with one college student, arrayed as a mythological blue bovine representing the fighting spirit of one team, to undertake, for the fee of $100, the task of riping the mustache from the costume of another college student, dressed as a rugged cowboy exemplifying the combative characteristics of the contesting team, only to have the whole thing inexplicably deteriorate into a brawl?
Coming Attractions: The next mascot update will feature a most deserving team representative previously (and mistakenly) thought to be an urban myth.
Update: Additional information is now available at Nellie Showalter Flashes Ankle, Defeats World Chess Champ; Jackson Whipps Showalter Guffaws
The devilishly handsome, dramatically mustachioed gent pictured above is one Jackson Whipps Showalter.
The family resemblance fairly leaps out at one, doesn’t it?
And, he’s not just another pretty face of the sort that is, after all, standard among the males who populate clan Showalter.2 Jackson Whipps Showalter cut quite a figure in the upper ranks of the international hierarchy of chess, ran a successful tobacco business, was alleged to have thrown the first curve ball, favored a good cigar, and married a smart, beautiful woman.
Kevin Marchese, writing at Chess.com on the occasion of Showalter’s August 7, 2010 induction into the Chess Hall Of Fame, provides a concise summary of Jackson’s family background and education:
Jackson Whipps Showalter was born February 5th, 1859 in Minerva (Bracken County), Kentucky. His parents, Freeman Benoni Showalter and Margaret Rachel (Whipps) Showalter, were farmers who migrated from Smithfield (Fayette County), Pennsylvania. He was the youngest of three boys, along with James Watterson Showalter and John William Showalter. The latter went on to be a famous Supreme Court circuit judge in Chicago, Illinois.3 Showalter graduated from Kenyon College (1879) in Ohio and would later graduate from the Kentucky Military Institute (1881) in Frankfurt, Kentucky. . … He would eventually settle in Georgetown, Kentucky. Family legend has it that he rode into town on his horse and attended a land auction in which he purchased a 325-acre farm for $29,000. When asked to make arrangements for payment, he reached into the saddle bags atop his horse and handed them cash. This farm would be the location of Showalter’s successful tobacco business for many years to come.4
These excerpts from The Postal Lion: Jackson Showalter and Correspondence Chess (originally posted 15 June 2006) by Neil R. Brennen indicate, paint a compelling vision of Jackson Whipps Showalter as a chess player.5
The elder Showalter [Jackson's father], a man with the curiously chessic middle name of Benoni, probably taught his son chess as a young man. Young Jackson knew the game by the time he graduated from Kentucky Military Institute in 1882. After a few years managing his father’s farm, Showalter moved to New York and began to roar among the chess masters. The tall Southerner probably made quite an impression; The Oxford Companion to Chess wrote that Showalter was “known as the Kentucky Lion after his birthplace and his mane of hair, but also perhaps on account of his playing strength.”
And his playing strength was prodigious. Showalter’s opponents included almost everyone who was anyone on the American chess scene in the 1890s. He was particularly skilled in match play. His match victims include Albin, Barry, Janowski, Judd, Kemeny, Lipschütz, and Whitaker. Losses include two championship matches to Pillsbury, one championship match to Lipschütz, an 1894 match to Lasker, and a 1909 match to Marshall that solidified the latter’s claim to the US Championship. Several of these matches were for the US Championship, a title Showalter had first won in the annual tournaments of the United States Chess association in 1889. Many of the games featured sparkling combinative play and sacrifices, making Showalter many friends among chess amateurs.
Jackson also exhibited another signature Showalter trait – likability.
Showalter was a very likable man, and hardly anyone had a bad word to say about him. Wilhelm Steinitz, who had no shortage of enemies in the chess world, is widely reported to have said Showalter was “one of six men from whom he would accept a cigar.”((Showalter – Lipschutz 1895 match. Compiled by crawfb5 Chessgames.com))
And, it appears likely that Jackson might well have had a cigar on hand to offer Steinitz. The following excerpt, originally published as ‘The Chessboard Kings,’ (subtitle: ‘Ways and looks of 20 great players’) in the 16 June 1889 New York Times along with a pen-portrait, not only describes Showalter’s appearance and manner but also his predilection for stogies.6
The distinguishing traits of Showalter are a tremendously big pair of blonde mustaches and a frank, open countenance. He is tall and dignified in his bearing, and gentlemanly in his behavior. Like many other players he is fond of a good smoke, and likes to have a general good time after his work is over ...
And again with the cigar,
‘I remember seeing Showalter in a match game with Pillsbury brood 45 minutes over a fourth move. It was a Ruy López. Afterwards there came the explanation. “The cigar was good; and I thought that long looking might uncover some better move and sequel than those used.”7
An even grander description of Jackson’s visual aspect was published in London, 1899 Pen-portraits., which is story about a 1899 London Chess Tournament found on8 (The participants are identified as, standing (from left to right: D. Janowsky, G. Maróczy, F.J. Lee, L. Hoffer, J.W. Showalter, S. Tinsley, R. Teichmann and W. Cohn and seated: H.E. Bird, E. Lasker, M. Chigorin, J.H. Blackburne and C. Schlechter. (emphasis mine))
Showalter has the head and hair of a Goliath. He has a way of putting his elbows on his knees and heavily rocking his powerful body, when he reflects, as if a combination demanded the expenditure of muscular force in equal measure to intellectual force.
Returning to Brennan’s account,
[In 1884,] Showalter was a young man in the American South, managing his father’s ranch. Over the board competition was scarce for a player of Showalter’s strength, and so he turned to postal chess. Perhaps his earliest experience with chess by correspondence was a tournament run by the Elmira Telegraph of Elmira, New York.
Jackson was, however, able to travel to other countries for games in later years, as evidenced by these photos of participants in international chess tournaments.
Vienna 1898 Standing: Schwarz, Schlechter, Fahndrich, Caro, Maróczy, Showalter, Marco, Alapin, Halprin, Baird, Burn. Sitting: Tarrasch, Blackburne, Pillsbury, Steinitz, Chigorin, Janowsky, Schiffers and Lipke. (emphasis mine)
Nuremberg 1896 Standing: Lasker, Charousek, Schlechter, two organisers, Janowsky, Maróczy, Marco, Showalter, three organisers. Sitting: Albin, Porges, Chigorin, Tarrasch, Winawer, Steinitz, Blackburne, Schallopp, Schiffers, Pillsbury, Walbrodt, Teichmann (emphasis mine)
World Chess Links also lists him playing in several other tournaments, including (Cambridge Springs 1904), London (1899), and Paris (1900).
According to Wikipedia,
[Jackson Showalter] won U.S. Championship matches against S. Lipschütz (twice), Max Judd and Albert Hodges. He lost championship matches to Lipschütz, Max Judd, Harry Nelson Pillsbury, and Frank Marshall.
… The variation of the Queen’s Gambit Accepted9 is named after him.
The famous “Capablanca Simplifying Manoeuvre” in the Orthodox Variation of the Queen’s Gambit Declined10 had in fact been used by Showalter in the 1890s, many years before José Raúl Capablanca played it.
Jackson Showalter also edited the chess columns for the New York Sun and New York Record.11
Again quoting from Jackson W. Showalter (1859-1935) by Kevin Marchese:
In September of 1888, various representatives of the State Chess Associations met in Cincinnati, Ohio to form the United States Chess Association. Showalter was chosen to be on the first executive committee for this newly formed organization. This also turned out to be the time and place for the 1st U.S. Chess Congress, which Showalter won with a score of 8 wins, 0 losses, and 2 draws. The following year he played in the 6th American Chess Congress (no affiliation with the aforementioned tournament) in New York. The tournament attracted many of the greatest chess players of the era from all over the world. He finished a respectable 9th out of 20 players in the field. Showalter would go on to win two more U.S. Chess Congress tournaments in 1890 (St. Louis) and 1891 (Lexington). Combined with his victory in 1890 at the Chicago tournament, his cumulative record over the course of these three victories was an impressive 29 wins, 2 losses, and 1 draw.
Despite being ill with influenza, Showalter played and lost a hard-fought match (+2 -6 =2) to future world champion Emanuel Lasker of Germany in 1892-93. Lasker was quoted after the match as saying that Showalter gave him the hardest battle of his life. He even went on to say “No man in all my experience ever stood up with such a formidable front as the talented Kentuckian. He is the greatest player I ever met.” …
There is much controversy and speculation as to when Showalter first captured the title of U.S. Chess Champion. Some sources have him as champion in 1890 as a result of his tournament victory at St. Louis, coupled with the inactivity of proposed champion Samuel Lipschutz. Others claim his match victory over Max Judd in 1892 (+7 -4 =3) was for the title. Even his win over Albert Beauregard Hodges (+7 -6 =4) in 1894 has been considered controversial. The only title win that seems to be amicable to most historians is his 1895 conquest of Lipschutz (+7 -4 =3).
He would successfully defend his title twice in 1896 by defeating both Emil Kemeny (+7 -4 =4) and John Finan Barry (+7 -2 =4). In 1897 he faced the up-and-coming Harry Nelson Pillsbury in arguably the greatest chess match in United States Chess Championship history. Showalter was one victory away from retaining his title against his heavily favored opponent and had the White pieces for the potentially deciding game. In a sixty-move Ponziani opening, Pillsbury was able to prevail and eventually won the match in an extended overtime by the score of 10 wins, 8 losses, and 3 draws. Showalter sought to re-capture his title the following year against Pillsbury, losing in less dramatic fashion by the score of 3 wins, 7 losses, and 2 draws.
During the next three years Showalter traveled abroad to Europe and participated in several international chess tournaments, with mildly disappointing results. Then, after finishing 2nd at the Manhattan Chess Club championship in 1900 to Lipschutz, Showalter went into a retirement of sorts until the 1904 Cambridge Springs international tournament. This would be the greatest collection of chess masters on American soil since 1889 (Sixth American Chess Congress) and briefly drew Showalter back to competitive chess. He would finish a very respectable 5th out of 16 against the impressive likes of Frank Marshall, David Janowski, Emanuel Lasker, Carl Schlechter, Mikhail Chigorin, and Richard Teichmann. What had to be even more satisfying for Showalter was that he finished ahead of Pillsbury and also defeated him in their only encounter of the tournament.
Showalter then disappeared from the chess world for the next several years. Pillsbury tragically passed away in 1906 at the early age of 33. This meant that the U.S. title now defaulted to the previous champion, the retired Jackson W. Showalter.
In 1909, Frank Marshall was overwhelmingly the strongest American player of the time and given that Showalter had stopped playing competitively five years previously, the title was somewhat in limbo. It was ultimately decided that Showalter would either defend his title against the much younger Marshall or relinquish it of his own accord. Showalter decided to play and was eventually overcome by the score of 2 wins, 7 losses, and 3 draws.
He took yet another hiatus of six years after losing the match, returning at the 1915 Western Open in Excelsior, Minnesota and promptly winning first place. He then stayed active in chess for several years, playing in the strong Western Opens (2nd place in 1916 and 1917). His last tournament was the 1926 Western Open in Chicago at the ripe old age of 67. He finished toward the bottom of standings, but was able to muster up one more brilliant win against strong American player, Edward Lasker.
Chess Notes Archives contributes information about Jackson’s immediate family and this photo of his wife, Nellie.
This photograph (see C.N. 4473) is of Mrs Showalter, from page 138 of the December 1904 American Chess Bulletin. The following page described her as ‘without doubt the strongest player of her sex in America’ and reported:
‘Mrs Showalter comes of a prominent Kentucky family, but was born in the state of Missouri in 1872; although her maiden name was Nellie Love Marshall, she claims no family relationship with the new champion bearing the same surname.’
From page 7 of the January 1894 BCM: ‘She is only 22 years of age and was married to him [Jackson Whipps Showalter] at 16. Soon after this event her husband taught her the moves, and then gave her the odds of the queen; but she progressed so rapidly that he cannot now give her the knight, and she has won two games of Mr Lasker at that odds. Not long ago, at Kokomo, Indiana, she played four games on even terms with Mr Jackson, the champion of that State, with the result that she won three and the other was drawn. She is said to be very handsome but, if so, the portrait of her in the New York Recorder does not do her justice …’
A photograph of their son, Freeman Showalter, who was born in 1895, was published on page 228 of the November 1918 American Chess Bulletin, where he was described by J.W. Showalter as follows: ‘He plays a very good, unpolished and natural game, but without any book training or knowledge acquired from books at all. I think he has considerable talent, in fact, but, of course, undeveloped.’
The obituary of an elder brother of Jackson Whipps Showalter, Judge John William Showalter, was published on page 312 of the January 1899 American Chess Magazine and stated that he was ‘a devoted follower of the game of chess’ and that ‘he taught the moves of chess to Jackson W. Showalter when the future champion was eight years of age.’
With respect to Jackson and Nellie, Brennen adds that
… [Also in 1884,] Showalter moved .. to Laredo, Texas, to oversee some of his father’s holdings there. He also married; his wife, Nellie, eventually learned the game from him, and developed enough prowess to defeat Emanuel Lasker at odds of a Knight.
Nellie herself commented on that match In an 1894 interview:12
When I first came to New York I played with Mr. Lasker a match of five games up. He gave the odds of a knight and I beat him five to two. Lasker had beaten everybody in Germany and England, then he came and beat my husband, and his astonishment, he said, was great that I could whip him with the odds he gave me.13
Lasker offered another perspective on Nellie’s strategy in their games:
At the critical juncture in the games, Mrs. Showalter would smile coyly, and then flash a bit of ankle. I was extremely flustered by such antics. When I complained to Mr. Showalter, he just guffawed and said, ‘My Nellie is such a card! Have a cigar’.”14
In 1894 Nellie Love Marshall Showalter, the wife of then U.S. Chess Champion, Jackson Whipps Showalter, played Mrs. Harriet Worrell, the wife of the renowned chess player, Thomas Herbert Worrall, a match for the U.S. Women’s Championship. The match ultimately was left unfinished due to Mrs. Showalter’s illness, but with Mrs. Showalter leading with a decisive score of 3½ to 1½.
In the 1894 American Chess Magazine, G.D.H.Gossip wrote:
“Mrs. Showalter, the wife of the present American champion, whose portrait we give, is the present lady champion, and although only twenty-two, has signalized herself by beating Lasker in a match at the odds of a Knight by five to two games. In a subsequent match at Kokomo, Ind., she easily defeated Mr. C.O. Jackson, drawing the first game and winning the next three games right off. She also won a majority of games of Mr. Arthur Peter, who took first prize in the “Free-for-all” Tourney at Kokomo. She has now been challenged by Mrs. Worrall; but at present holds the title of “queen of chess” …
The American Chess Bulletin of 1904 gives the following … information:
… This fair devotee is a natural player, never having studied the books. Instead she picked up the rudiments of the game easily and rapidly and improved by imitating the methods of leading experts, especially those of her husband, playing purely by common sense and intuition.”
Nellie Love Marshall was born in Brookfield, Linn County, Missouri on August 19, 1870. She died at age 76 in Scott Co., Kentucky on March 25 of 1946. Her husband, whom she married on Feb. 28, 1887 (she had just turned 16), was Jackson Whipps Showalter, born in Minerva, Kentucky on Feb. 4, 1860. He was 14 years older and died in 1935. They had three children, all sons: Freeman Benoni Showalter (Aug. 16, 1895), John William Showalter (Aug. 16, 1904), and James Watterson Showalter (Dec., 1906).
The New Review, 1894 – Ladies As Chess-Players:
… But to see two ladies engaging in a right down serious set match, recorded regularly by the Press, and to see these ladies play the close openings usual in match play, as if to the profession born, is indeed an advance in the practice of the game by lady enthusiasts. Such a match is now being played at New York, the combatants being Mrs. Worrall and Mrs. Showalter. The first game of this noteworthy contest is a careful, deliberate, and hard-fought battle, which would do credit to many a minor master, Mrs. Worrall certainly showing greater enterprise and readiness. She obtained the best game by very fine play, but rather hurriedly gave up the exchange on her thirtieth move. Mrs. Worrall lost simply because her opponent possesses greater capacity for taking pains. This is evident from comparing the time used by both ladies—Mrs. Worrall, two hours ; Mrs. Showalter, four hours ten minutes. An extra hour’s deliberation devoted to the game would, no doubt, deservedly have secured the victory for Mrs. Worrall. It must not be forgotten, however, that the latter, lady is by a great many years the senior of Mrs. Showalter, and youth will tell—especially in procuring mates.
March 18, 1896: Mrs. Nellie Marshall Showalter is perhaps the most accomplished woman chessplayer in the world. … Mrs. Showalter is a Southern belle, with a petite figure and a charming manner. She is at present in Kentucky, but. expects to go East in a few weeks for the purpose of tuning part in the international chess match by cable which will be contested in April between the women of England and America.
Mrs. Showalter is a Kentuckian and possessed of all the Kentucky woman’s charms. “Don’t say that my husband won me at a game of chess,” said she, when interviewed, and her big blue eyes opened wider in her excitement. “Let me see. I was married at sixteen and now am twenty- three, that makes seven years’ playing with the champion chess player of the United States. It would be funny if I did not know a little, would it not? I never played with a woman before and would not have thought of challenging Mrs. Worrall. I always think I see ahead about eight moves; sometimes I don’t carry right, but more often I do. When I make a blunder it makes me ill.”
Mrs. Showalter is petite with golden brown, curly hair. She wears when at play a simple black blouse and greenish gray skirt, plain and of light weight, clearing the floor. Her curls are pusked back and caught up with a jeweled comb. She takes off al her rings but two, a plain circle of gold and a gem setting.
At half-past two o’clock the ladies enter the parlor of 438 West Twenty-third street, when playing in New York, each taking her place at the board. Mrs. Showalter sets her feet firmly, and resting her elbows on the table, runs her fingers up through her wealth of hair. If the game is long and exciting, before its close the comb falls to the floor and the mass of curls rests on her shoulders in wild confusion, each ringlet seemingly aiming to reach the chess board and assist its mistress to win the game.
Mrs. Showalter has a dimpled face rather round and exceedingly sweet in expression. Her eyes are large and limpid and violet blue in color. Her complexion is fresh and ruddy, and she speaks in contralto tones, with a slow, measured thoughtfulness for which no one is ever prepared. It is naturally supposed that a quick impulsiveness goes with the makeup of such a vivacious little body.
References to Jackson Showalter inventing the curve ball abound. Most resemble this description from Baseball Almanac:
Most baseball fans don’t know that Jackson Showalter, who is credited with inventing the curve ball, was also a U.S. chess champion in the late 1880′s.
Or, reformatted from the chess world”s point of view, as it is in a review of 2010 Chess Oddities By Alex Dunne (Thinkers Press 2003):
And did you know that Jackson Showalter, the first officially recognized US champion (1890) is also considered the inventor of the curve ball in baseball?
The details of the accomplishment claimed are sometimes modified, as in Showalter’s obituary on page 63 of the March 1935 Chess Review:15
Mr Showalter was famous as a baseball player and was an ardent fan up until the latter part of his life, when bad health kept him at home. He was the first man in Kentucky to pitch a curve ball and one of the seven men who discovered the curve.
Given the existence of documentation of other individuals demonstrating a curve ball before Jackson could have done so,16 the notion that he was the sole inventor of that pitch is unlikely. I’m not certain how one would determine, in the latter half of the 19th century, who was the first to toss a curve in the sovereign state of Kentucky.
It does appear that Jackson was a fan of the game. A correspondent on the About.com Baseball Forum had accumulated this information:
Jackson Showalter spent 3 years at Kenyon College 1875-1878, Gambier Ohio. He spent 4 years at Cornell University Ithaca, NY. Cornell was first university to recognize baseball as a legitimate subject for academic inquiry. Showalter graduated from the Military Institute in Frankfort in 1882. His chess fame started when he was 30 years old. He has chess ties to Henry Chadwick, British-born American sportswriter who helped organize professional baseball. In 1869 Chadwick began an annual baseball handbook, which later became Spalding’s Official Baseball Guide.
From the Brooklyn Eagle, Oct 17, 1893: The article is called A Fair Chess Expert, and it remarks that while chess champion Jackson Showalter is an excellent amateur baseball player and the noted pitcher of the Lexington team, his young wife is also a fan of baseball and quite an expert at chess. Mrs. Showalter often accompanied her husband on trips, and it is often noted that both she and their child play chess.
And, Edward Winter, writing at Chess Notes Archive, responds to the claim that Jackson was the curve ball instigator,
… [the claim that Jackson Showalter invented the curve ball] was mentioned, sourcelessly, by A. Soltis on page 30 of the April 1980 Chess Life. On the general subject of Showalter and baseball we can give a couple of quotes from pages 242-245 of the June 1892 BCM [British Chess Magazine]:
‘… he received a first-class school and college education – which included baseball.’
‘His tendency is the national game of baseball – in England he would have been a cricketer with a good strain of football thrown in. He travelled with the Georgetown baseball team, of which he was the only amateur, in a successful Southern tour some years ago, encountering all the crack teams from the Ohio River to the Gulf, New Orleans included. … He is a baseball crank.’
I blundered into tidbits of the story of Jackson Showalter, who died February 5, 1935 at the age of 76. by chance and was lucky enough to track down the information in this post with routine searches. While I’m obviously biased, family connections being what they are, I think it’s fair to say Jackson lived a rich life – and one that has now enriched me.
Credit Due Department: The picture of the trophy and the basis of information for the caption beneath that picture were found at the Rook House Blog. The sketches from the New York Daily Tribune and the Philadelphia Public Ledger are from Chess Archeology. The sketch of Jackson Showalter near the end of this post was drawn from life by Mrs G.A. Anderson and published on page 67 of the 1922 issue of Chess Pie. It was also reproduced to accompany an article on Showalter by W.H. Watts on pages 44-45 of the Chess Budget, 11 November 1925. I found it at Chess Notes Archives. The second image of Nellie Showalter (the black and white drawing set to the right) is from British Chess Magazine 1892. The image of the memorial marker (added 19 December 2011) was taken by Ben Tilford Calvert.
My original intent today was to respond to requests for a list of sites where one can download recordings of live performances of pop music.
The good news is that this post does indeed provide information about arguably the best single repository of those music files.
The bad news or, depending on ones perspective, the even better news is that the site to which I refer has so much to offer in addition to concert downloads that it has become the sole focus of today’s entry.1
By their nature, institutions such as museums and art galleries are manifestations of randomness. Their content at any given time is a consequence of the original mission of the organization, the budget, the administrators’ own predilections, the personal preferences of those controlling the funding, the fashion of the day, the competition, the geographical, cultural, and socio-economic location, the perceived needs of the population served, the legalities and the degree to which those in charge are willing to fudge the rules, and scores of other factors, not the least of which is luck.
Consequently, visiting these institutions, whether via bus or by browser, with an expectation of complete, compulsively cataloged collections is likely to result in disappointment and frustration.
I urge potential visitors, instead, to unleash your inner A.D.D. child, revel in the asymmetry, risk going off on that tangent, and enjoy each delightful distraction. You’ll thank me later.2
In keeping with this attitude, this introduction to the Internet Archive will be a sampling of what it offers rather than an a methodical orientation.
The first stop is the Internet Wayback Machine. Enter a URL and see what that website looked like in the past. For example, check out Yahoo.com as it appeared Oct 17, 1996:
Almost any website that’s been around long enough to be listed in a search is likely to be on the Wayback Machine. Wanna see what Heck Of A Guy looked like almost an entire year ago?
Ah, those were the good old days.
The remaining archived materials are divided into the Audio Archive, Moving Images, and Texts. 3
The Audio Archive inclues novels and poetry read aloud, music of all sorts, newscasts, podcasts, recorded sermons, …
For example,the Live Music Archive includes thousands of recordings of those live pop music performances (the original purpose of this post). I’ve found a handful of bands to offer a sense of what is available.
Pretty impressive number of shows for those groups, eh? Well, they are impressive until compared with the 6,485 Grateful Dead shows stored at the Archive.
Not every musician is included (randomness, remember?). Any band listed, however, has formally given permission for their live music to be made legally available for download. So, no covert codes to enter, no using those download services that limit how fast or how much you can download. No malware and no RIAA lawsuits to worry about.
Many sets are available in uncompressed files (e.g., flac).4 Many have attached reviews that are relatively trustworthy.
And, more than a thousand new concerts are being uploaded each month.
I do have one caveat – some of the files are not tagged with complete information (e.g., the name of the song may be listed only as something like “Subdudes2008-05-26D1T01_vbr.mp3″). I strongly recommend routinely downloading both the desired music files and the corresponding text setlist.
And the audio treats don’t end with live music downloads. Among the plethora of choices, for example, are the productions of the Globe Radio Repertory, a radio playhouse that has put on sixteen Stories by Anton Chekhov, Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, Nikolai Gogol’s Dead Souls, and, best of all, Don Quixote de la Mancha.
Episode 1, titled “The Quest Begins,” of a 13-part radio theatre adaptation of the Cervantes classic, which played to great acclaim on NPR Playhouse in the mid-80s, can be heard below.
Again, these are only samples. There is much, much more.
The Moving Images section includes these subcategories:
The most popular (i.e., most downloaded) Feature Films on the site are
Many other flicks are available, including Buster Keaton: Speak Easily, Abbott & Costello: Jack and the Beanstalk, Rodger Corman: The Little Shop Of Horrors, Robert Sisk: Love Laughs at Andy Hardy, Frank Capra: Meet John Doe, and Laurel and Hardy: The Flying Deuces.
When I checked this section, the movie that happened to be playing was Abraham Lincoln, a 1930 production that was not a great film but has an interesting production team. It was directed by D.W. Griffith himself, and the credited writers are John W. Considine Jr. (story) and some guy named Stephen Vincent Benet (adaptation).
This morning there were 1,251,253 items listed in Texts category, the final major category.
These include contributions from ten major natural history museum libraries, botanical libraries, and research institutions joined together to form the Biodiversity Heritage Library Project, 20,000 volumes from Project Gutenberg, 808,604 items from American Libraries, and on and on and … .
It seems profoundly significant, although I can’t formulate an explanatory underlying principle, that the top three text downloads this week are
We learned – and this will be on the test – that if you can’t find something interesting in the Internet Archive’s easy to access, cost-free, weirdly wonderful collections, then perhaps you haven’t clicked on enough links.