Poe Anniversay

poe coverOn this date in 1841, (172 years ago!) Edgar Allan Poe published what is thought to be the first English-language contribution to the mystery genre, The Murders in the Rue Morgue. He introduced C. Auguste Dupin, a French eccentric who used deductive reasoning to solve crimes. Sound familiar?

He also published two other Dupin stories: The Mystery of Marie Roget, and The Purloined Letter, neither of which I have read. I think I’ll read these,  starting with the Rue Morgue, which a read a long time ago so I don’t remember, and let you know how it goes.




May I have this waltz, Patti?

from boston.com

from boston.com

I heard a piece on NPR this evening about Patti Page and I just had to put in my two cents. (Patti died at the age of 85 on January 1st of this new year).

Patti’s very popular song – “The Tennessee Waltz” – was one of my father’s favorites. I even have a recording of that that I played for him (when he was still with us) on an old phonograph I have, the wind up, needle as big as a pencil lead phonograph. I can still see my mother and father dancing at weddings to a tune like “The Tennessee Waltz.” My parents were quite good. I didn’t find out until much later, after I had taken a ballroom dance class in college, that yes, they were good, but the only dance my father knew was the foxtrot.

Patti was born, November 8th, 1927 in Claremore, Oklahoma. “The Tennessee Waltz” was recorded in 1950. She is also well known for the song “(How much is that) Doggie in the Window.”

“Four score and seven years ago…” On this day in 1863

from history1800s.about.com

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that “all men are created equal”

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of it, as a final resting place for those who died here, that the nation might live. This we may, in all propriety do. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow, this ground– The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have hallowed it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here; while it can never forget what they did here.

It is rather for us, the living, to stand here, we here be dedica-ted to the great task remaining before us — that, from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here, gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve these dead shall not have died in vain; that the nation, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people by the people for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” (complements of http://www.ourdocuments.gov)

Abraham Lincoln, November 19, 1863 at the dedication of the 17 acre cemetery at Gettysburg where just four months earlier nearly 51,000 Union and Confederate soldiers either died, were wounded, or were missing. The main speaker that day was Edward Everett – a famous orator. He spoke for 2 hours. Lincoln spoke after him for about 2 minutes. Which speech do you remember?

What do :-) and :-( and 1982 and today have in common?


On this day in 1982 the first “emoticons” ever were used and were created by is Scott Fahlman, a computer scientist. In 1982, when he was participating in an online forum, he used the :- ) and :( to note when he was making a joke. Little did he know…

Herman Melville’s Birthday

Of course, everyone knows Herman Melville  for his famous Moby Dick, and for good reason. I remember the first time I read that book, I had never read a whole story that was written with such lovely prose. Though as with Shakespeare, it takes a while to get used to the  flow of the language. Melville had worked on at least 3 different whaling ships as a young man, so the man did know to what he was speaking of. An interesting little tidbit about this book is that it wasn’t very popular when it came out. The publisher was not able to sell the initial printing of 3000 copies before Melville died. It was brought back and recognized as an accomplished work  in the early 1900s, only after his death. It’s been a very long time since I read Moby Dick. I really need to pick it up again.

(Herman Melville – Born: 1819, New York City-  died: 1891, New York City – 72 years, though his adult, married life was spent in Pittsfield, Mass at the home they called Arrowhead where his and his wife, Elizebeth Shaw, raised their four children and farmed. They moved to New York City in 1863. Arrowhead is presently a museum.)

  Image courtesy of mphbooks.com

Another Famous Birthday!

complements of grandnationaltrailer.com

Today is the birthday of J.R.R Tolkien. (Wonder what J.R.R. stands for? John Ronald Reuel!). Tolkien was born in South Africa by English parents. (Is there a trend here: Tolkien, Kipling…?) When Tolkien was three, his mother took him and his older brother back to England for a visit, but while they were away from their father, he died of rheumatic fever. His mother, Mabel, also died young, when Tolkien was 12. Both boys were raised by Father Francis Xavier Morgan, per their mother’s request. He married Edith Mary Bratt in 1916. They had four children – 4 boys and a girl. Tolkien wrote The Hobbit in 1937 and The Lord of the Rings in 1949 – both a little thick at times, but wonderful stories non-the-less. Ronald – as apparently he was called – died in 1971 at the age of 82.

Rudyard Kipling

from Borne and Shephard 1892

Rudyard Kipling was born on this day in 1865. He died in 1936 of a gastric ulcer. Rudyard was born in Bombay, India but was sent to England at the age of five to study along with his sister. He married an American by the name of Caroline Starr Balestier in 1892- the daughter of a writer and publishing agent he worked with on the novel Naulahka. Kipling is best known for his 2 Jungle Book stories, Just so Stories, and The Man Who Would Be King. He lived in Connecticut for a time and his home is still there and used as a rental home, with some of it’s original funishings!

This is from his poem, Mandalay (1890)

By the old Moulmein Pagoda, lookin’ lazy at the sea, There’s a Burma girl a-settin’, and I know she thinks o’ me; For the wind is in the palm-trees, and the temple-bells they say: “Come you back, you British soldier; come you back to Mandalay!”

 Come you back to Mandalay,

Where the old Flotilla lay:

Can’t you ‘ear their paddles chunkin’ from Rangoon to Mandalay?

On the road to Mandalay,

  Where the flyin’-fishes play,

   An’ the dawn comes up like thunder outer China ‘crost the Bay!

Radio City Music Hall

Here’s a bit of trivia for you – on this date in 1932 Radio City Music Hall opened it’s doors. It was built by J.D. Rockefeller Jr who originally intended to build an opera house in that location but the Great Depression changed his mind. It’s an elegant Art Deco theater with 5,931 seats and touts the largest theater pipe organ with 4,410 pipes (that’s a lot of wind!). The building was renovated and re-opened in 1980 – thank goodness! In 1933 the much copied and skilled Rockettes first graced that stage with its famous Christmas program. I’ve seen it, and it is very impressive, even more so in the amazing surroundings. It’s a must see for anyone visiting New York.

from austonpost.org

Wise Words from Woodrow Wilson (say that fast 3 times!)

“I not only use all the brains that I have but all that I can borrow.”

Woodrow Wilson

from dkosepedia.com

Now that is a smart man!

(1856-1924 )-Our 28th President, who brought us through WWI. He held this office from 1913 to 1921. After WWI he helped negotiate a peace treaty which included a plan for the League of Nations – which the US initially rejected. He received a Nobel Prize for his efforts.