Thanks to the Mister on his day for persistence in obtaining my Mother’s Day present

I spied them in a shop window the first day we were in Valencia. Immediately, I wanted one. A mini-Kate. We really don’t have a current photo of an adult Kate hanging anywhere in the house, so why not go 3-D? Mother’s Day seemed as good an excuse as any for this unusual souvenir.

Kate and the Mister pointed out to me that some of the samples displayed in the window did not appear of high artistic quality, but I was determined a mini-Kate was needed. The only way to have convinced me otherwise would have been to tell me 3-D portraits were available in kiosks all over Austin. She texted her friends, and not a one had ever seen the product. Surely, I would be the first person on the block to have a mini-nina.

So Kate agreed, and we made an appointment. She stood frozen patiently on a rotating platform as the photographer clicked away.

The completed sculpture, the Russian proprietor referred to it in Spanish as a puppet, was scheduled to arrive before we left Valencia. I must confess, as both the Mister and Kate feared, I did envision carting mini-Kate around and posing her at landmarks around the city to text her the photos after her departure.

But mini-Kate failed to materialize in the shop until after we moved on to Budapest, so the photographer agreed to ship her to catch up with us there.

Mini-Kate did not fly first class to Budapest. The only protection provided her in the shipping envelope was a skimpy layer of bubble wrap. Her legs were shattered.

Suddenly the fun doll-like figure assumed an ominous aura. We could not tell Kate she was broken. I barely felt comfortable emailing her to make sure she was in one piece in Austin. Her legs didn’t hurt did they?

So the Mister began a series of emails in Spanish with the proprietor in Valencia. Did we sign for it before inspecting inside? The Mister pointed out we did sign for it, but we certainly could not read the fine print of the terms of acceptance in doing so as they were in Hungarian. And, did I still want one?

I did hesitate over the quality. If this statuette had been displayed in the window, unbroken, I would not have thought it remotely resembled Kate. Yes, I did want a fresh one, but could this one perhaps have red hair as clearly seen in the photos and maybe not appear as though someone had just slugged her in the face? I think the polite Mister translator communicated this more genteelly.

The new Kate arrived only two days before we left Budapest, but the project seemed cursed. This version is a little more becoming, but she still has no red hair and is more mini than the first, the size we ordered. More emails required of the resident Mister translator to adjust the pricing because of the discrepancy between the two sizes

There really was no time to take the new mini-Kate for a photo-op on the Danube, but I feared such an outing. Suppose she fell off the bridge? Plus, the Kates are fragile, not tough like Barbie dolls.

I could not bear to just throw the broken midi-Kate away, abandoning her in Budapest. That certainly would be unmotherly. The Mister was pressed into performing surgery.

So there are two residing in San Antonio. A mini-Kate and a patched midi-Kate. Kind of like Kate had a sister instead of being an only child. For now, the pair of Kates are standing tall among the cookbooks – a pretty safe spot given my increasingly lazy cooking habits.

I’m not planning on taking the delicate children on any trips, but we’d rather have the real maxi-Kate join us anyway.

Thanks for working so hard on this, Mister, and to Kate for being such a good sport.

Will Billy Gibbons get nostalgic and drop by to see the guitarist who opened for him at the Teen Canteen?

There was no moment more jubilant in the fledgling days of the humble South Texas Popular Culture Museum than the day ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons walked through its doors to take in the Teen Canteen exhibit.

In the earliest days, ZZ Top played Sam Kinsey’s teen club, and TexPop had on display the canceled check for the blues-rock band’s very first gig. Board member Jeff Smith had cajoled Gibbons with the tantalizing thought of seeing that $150 check once again.

It’s possible Gibbons could walk through those doors again for the new exhibit produced by retired music journalist Margaret Moser – “Standing at the Crossroad: Robert Johnson in San Antonio 1936.”

“Exhibit marks Robert Johnson’s S.A. sessions,” Hector Saldana, San Antonio Express-News, November 18, 2016

an exhibit at the South Texas Popular Culture Center

an exhibit at the South Texas Popular Culture Center

I didn’t bump into Billy Gibbons at the opening of the Robert Johnson exhibit at the South Texas Popular Culture Center, but that was okay because I was with the Mister.

“So….?,” you might be wondering.

Well, the Mister was in a band, Captain Midnight, that once opened for Billy Gibbons at Sam Kinsey’s Teen Canteen.

Sam Kinsey's stable of bands in 1969, collection of TexPop Culture Center

Sam Kinsey’s stable of bands in 1969, collection of TexPop Culture Center

There’s no promo poster displaying this connection, but TexPop does have a copy of Sam Kinsey’s roster of bands in 1969. And Captain Midnight is there.

There are no known photos or recordings of Captain Midnight playing during the Mister’s high school years. The Mister thinks might be a good thing, similar to the way a mercy killing can be viewed as positive.

The Mister’s career has come a long way since then; the blues band he plays with definitely rates seeing. So plan to kick off the New Year with the After Midnight Blues Band at The Pig Pen behind the Smoke Shack on Broadway.

Who knows? Maybe Billy Gibbons will be overcome by a wave of nostalgia and show up to see the guitarist who opened for him at the Teen Canteen.

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After Midnight Blues Band at The Pig Pen

Postcard from Ravenna, Italy: ‘We three kings of Orient are?’

Detailed wish lists for newborns are commonplace online, but aromatic resins must have fallen out of popularity. Maybe because frankincense and myrrh are not stocked by retailers such as Babies ‘R’ Us. Most parents of today would welcome gold though.

These are the gifts presented in the manger by the three kings from the east who followed the star. The Mister’s mother, Virginia Hornor Spencer (1924-2000), would unroll handsome gold banners featuring the kings each year for the holidays, launching the annual trivia quiz to recall the names of the wise men.

The photo above eliminates the challenge by labeling them: Balthazar, Melchior and Gaspar. In this mosaic in Sant’ Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, the kings are followed by a parade of 22 virgins.

This church was constructed for Theodoric the Great (493-526), who, in addition to his own baptistery, wanted a private Arian chapel near his palace. He is credited with commissioning the top row of prophets lining the walls. Some of his Arian Christian mosaics were altered after the Byzantine branch of the Catholic Church recaptured Ravenna from what they considered barbaric heretics. The parades of the virgins and martyrs were added by the more mainstream Catholics.

Saint Apollinaris was an early bishop of Ravenna who supposedly suffered through a torture and release program practiced by Roman emperors against the early Christians. He endured beatings, hackings by knives, forced walks over hot coals, time in the dungeon and numerous expulsions from Ravenna before his final capture resulted in wounds from which he did not recover.

Around the year 900, the martyr’s relics were moved to this church, which was renamed in his honor with the “Nuovo” tag to distinguish it from the first church to house his remains as it was near the sea and prone to raids by pirates. Most of Saint Apollinaris’ parts are divided between the two Apollinare churches of Ravenna.

The cylindrical bell tower was added in the 9th or 10th century, and the marble porch was tacked onto the basilica in the 16th century. The altar and its dome were altered much later.