SE39 Week 5 – Roundup

And the gold medal goes to… a bedridden and blind Henri Matisse?

This week we learned that William Butler Yeats’ brother Jack won an Olympic medal for painting. Hang on, painting? Yes, that’s right! As it turns out the modern Olympics featured artistic events, with competitors pushing themselves to the limits of human endurance in: architecture, literature, music, painting, and sculpture, and various subcategories therein. And this wasn’t just a “yeah we tried it once” sort of affair. Far from, it lasted until 1954, and was only discontinued because the Olympic mandarins ruled that the artists were professionals, rather than hardworking amateurs like the Soviet hockey team.

Not just any old works were submitted in these fields; they had to have something to do with sport, and the Olympic spirit etc. Here’s a gold medal winning painting:

Winter Sports
Winter Sports

This piece by Italian Carlo Pellegrini, and creatively titled Winter Sports depicts people playing winter sports. And while the modern age has its Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders-type multi sport athletes, two olympians (who were obviously very conflicted over who to hang out with in high school) actually managed medals in sports and art, including this guy, American Walter W. Winans:

Walter W. Winans, ladykiller
Walter W. Winans, ladykiller

He gold won in shooting, using that sweet golden pistol that would make Qaddafi jealous, and then for this sculpture:

An American Trotter
An American Trotter

…which to me really looks like a bronze medal effort. I only say that because Walter W. Winans can no longer shoot me. Because he’s dead. Bonus, a gorgeous Olympic poster:


And maybe the weirdest part? In the Munich 1936 games German competitors shocked the world and bolstered Hitler’s claims of racial superiority by sweeping the podium in…. solo and choral music. Jesse Owens? Never heard of him.

Hi Ho Silver, Away! No, not that way!

This week featured a question about whether or not James II died by having his horse run of a cliff. He did not. Seems sort of ridiculous, right? Yes, but then again, no. Wikipedia brings us this extensive list of horse accidents. Why is there an extensive list of horse accidents? No one can say for sure, but we can learn from it. While James II didn’t die this way, as it turns out Alexander III of Scotland did! He rode through the night to visit his Queen on her birthday, Secretariat took a wrong turn, and Scotland was left monarch-less. But horses have taken down many, many other people, including Cole Porter, Christopher Reeve, Genghis Khan, Henry II’s grandfather and son (that had to call for Jaws Brody-family level vengeance), William the Conqueror, Geronimo, and many others. This is a pretty serious hitlist for a species that we thought we were friends with. Keep your eyes peeled.

Well hello there, pilgrim, I guess I’m gonna have to destroy your entire civilization

This week’s final soundbite was a clip of the immortal John Wayne, who fell victim once again to typecasting when given the roll of Genghis Khan in the 1956 film The Conqueror. SPOILER ALERT: A horse kills him. These movie posters are too great not to share:



Just amazing. See you next week!

One thought on “SE39 Week 5 – Roundup

  1. Interesting note: in discussing strange olympic events with a colleague I learned that her grandfather (if I remember correctly) won two olympic gold medals in… tug of war!


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