Saturday, February 28, 2009

Que sais-je?

Today is the birthday of Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (February 28, 1533 - September 13, 1592), French courtier and author whose Essais (Essays) established the essay as a literary form. He is considered one of the most influential writers of the French Renaissance and the father-figure of scepticism in modern Europe.

"When I play with my cat, who knows if I am not a pastime to her more than she is to me?" - Michel de Montaigne

"Saying is one thing and doing is another."- Michel de Montaigne

"Nothing is so firmly believed as that which least is known." - Michel de Montaigne

"The thing I fear most is fear." - Michel de Montaigne

Que sais-je?
Translation: "What know I?" or "What do I know?" - Michel de Montaigne

Image source (1)

Friday, February 27, 2009

Two Literary Giants . . .

A Happy Birthday salute to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (February 27, 1807 – March 24, 1882) and John Ernst Steinbeck III (February 27, 1902 – December 20, 1968), both renown writers.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was an American professor, linguist and poet. He was the first American to translate Dante Alighieri's The Divine Comedy.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is known as the most popular American poet of the nineteenth century. His poetry and narrative works are memorable for their lyrical, easy rhythm.

"Lives of great men all remind us We can make our lives sublime, And departing, leave behind us Footprints on the sands of time." - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

"As turning the logs will make a dull fire burn, so change of studies a dull brain." - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

"Give what you have. To someone, it may be better than you dare to think." - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“It takes less time to do a thing right than it does to explain why you did it wrong.” - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“Music is the universal language of mankind” - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

United States Postage Stamp

John Ernst Steinbeck was the American writer who wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Grapes of Wrath (published 1939) and received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962.

“I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit.” - John Steinbeck

“This I believe: That the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual.” - John Steinbeck

"All war is a symptom of man's failure as a thinking animal." - John Steinbeck

“There are some among us who live in rooms of experience we can never enter” - John Steinbeck

“Time is the only critic without ambition.” - John Steinbeck

Happy Birthday to two literary giants.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Time for an idea . . .

Today is the birthday of Victor-Marie Hugo (February 26, 1802 – May 22, 1885), novelist, poet, and dramatist.  He is considered one of the most important of  the French Romantic writers and his best known novels - The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1831) and Les Misérables (1862).

“When a woman is talking to you, listen to what she says with her eyes” - Victor Hugo

“The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved -- loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves.” - Victor Hugo

“What a grand thing, to be loved! What a grander thing still, to love!” - Victor Hugo

“There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world, and that is an idea whose time has come.” - Victor Hugo

“Each man should frame life so that at some future hour fact and his dreaming meet.” - Victor Hugo

"All the forces in the world are not so powerful as an idea whose time has come." - Victor Hugo

Image source (1)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Don't worry be happy . . .

Happy Birthday shout out to Merwan Sheriar Irani (February 25, 1894 – January 31, 1969) and George Harrison (February 25, 1943 – November 29, 2001).

Merwan Sheriar Irani, better known as Meher Baba or The Awakener was an Indian mystic and spiritual master. He attracted many followers around the world throughout his lifetime.

In 1925 he spoke for the last time and maintained a silence for 44 years, until his death.

He did continue to communicate, at first by means of an alphabet board, and later by signs and gestures.

"The disease of selfishness in mankind will need a cure that is not only universal in its application but drastic in nature. Selfishness is so deep-rooted that it can be eradicated only if it is attacked from all sides. Real peace and happiness will dawn spontaneously when there is a purging of selfishness." - Meher Baba

"Don't worry, be happy." - Meher Baba

George Harrison was a musician, singer-songwriter and film producer, best known as a member of The Beatles.

"It's being here now that's important. There's no past and there's no future. Time is a very misleading thing. All there is ever, is the now. We can gain experience from the past, but we can't relive it; and we can hope for the future, but we don't know if there is one." - George Harrison

“When you've seen beyond yourself, then you may find, peace of mind is waiting there.” - George Harrison

"Love one another." - George Harrison (His last words)

Mehr Baba image source (1)
George Harrison image source (1)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

And one more thing . . .

A Happy Birthday shout out to Steve Jobs (February 24, 1955), co-founder of Apple Inc. He is often referred to as a tech visionary.

"When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: 'If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right.' It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: 'If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?' And whenever the answer has been 'No' for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something." - Steve Jobs

"What a computer is to me is the most remarkable tool that we have ever come up with. It's the equivalent of a bicycle for our minds." - Steve Jobs

"We think basically you watch television to turn your brain off, and you work on your computer when you want to turn your brain on." - Steve Jobs

"Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn't matter to me ... Going to bed at night saying we've done something wonderful... that's what matters to me." - Steve Jobs

Photo source (1)

Monday, February 23, 2009

To raising consciousness . . .

Today is the birthday of Karl Theodor Jaspers (February 23, 1883 – February 26, 1969), German psychiatrist and philosopher. He is considered a major contributor in the movement of existentialism.

"But we ourselves philosophize in communication, not in isolation. Our point of departure is man's relation to man, the individual's way of dealing with the individual. In our world, linked fellowship seems like the true reality. Communication leads to our brightest moments and lends weight to our life. My philosophizing owes its every content to people who have come close to me. I consider it true in so far as it aids communication. Man cannot place himself above man; he can approach only those he meets on the same level. He cannot teach them what to do, but together they can find out what they want and what they are. There can be solidarity in what must animate our existence if it is to turn into being." - Karl Jaspers

“Reason is like an open secret that can become known to anyone at any time; it is the quiet space into which everyone can enter through his own thought” - Karl Jaspers

"To fail to be human would mean to slip into nothingness." - Karl Jaspers

"Man, if he is to remain man, must advance by way of consciousness." - Karl Jaspers

Photo source (1)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

It's nothing much . . .

Today is the birthday of Heinrich Rudolf Hertz (February 22, 1857 – January 1, 1894), physicist, renowned for the discovery of radio waves.  James Maxwell had mathematically predicted their existence in 1864; however, Heinrich Hertz was the first to send and receive radio waves.

Heinrich Hertz's experiments proved that electricity can be transmitted in electromagnetic waves, which travel at the speed of light and which possess many other properties of light. 

His experiments with electromagnetic waves led to the development of the wireless telegraph, radio, television, radar and many of the wireless devices we take for granted today. 

In recognition of his discovery, his name is the term used for radio and electrical frequencies: hertz (Hz), as in kilohertz (kHz) or megahertz (MHz).

“I do not think that the wireless waves I have discovered will have any practical application.” - Heinrich Hertz

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Look but don't stare . . .

A birthday salute to Wystan Hugh Auden (February 21, 1907 – September 29, 1973), poet, better known as W. H. Auden. He has been referred to as one of the greatest writers of the 20th century.

Wystan Hugh Auden published his first book of verse in 1928.  A few years later, his book entitled Poems, published in 1930, established him as the leading voice of a new generation.

He travelled thru Iceland, Germany, China and served in the Spanish Civil War, and these experiences provided rich material for his verse. His poetry frequently recalls a journey or quest.

"Every man carries with him through life a mirror, as unique and impossible to get rid of as his shadow." - W. H. Auden

“All that we are not stares back at what we are” - W. H. Auden

“Good can imagine Evil; but Evil cannot imagine Good” - W. H. Auden

Happy Birthday to Charles Michael "Chuck" Palahniuk (born 1962-02-21), an American satirical novelist and freelance journalist. He is best known for the award-winning novel Fight Club.

"I haven't had a TV in 10 years, and I really don't miss it. 'Cause it's always so much more fun to be with people than it ever was to be with a television." - Chuck Palahniuk

"It's easy to attack and destroy an act of creation. It's a lot more difficult to perform one." - Chuck Palaniuk

"The first step — especially for young people with energy and drive and talent, but not money — the first step to controlling your world is to control your culture. To model and demonstrate the kind of world you demand to live in. To write the books. Make the music. Shoot the films. Paint the art." - Chuck Palaniuk

Auden image (1)
Palahniuk image (1)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Madness, madness . . . touché

Today is the birthday of Pierre Boulle (February 20, 1912 – January 30, 1994), French novelist and engineer. 

Most people remember Pierre Boulle by his two most famous works, The Bridge over the River Kwai (1952) and Planet of the Apes (La planèt des singes) (1963); however, some may remember him as Peter John Rule. 

During World War II, he served as a secret agent under the name Peter John Rule, and in doing so, he helped the resistance movement in China, Burma, and French Indochina. He was captured by the Vichy France loyalists (1943) on the Mekong River and imprisoned. While a prisoner he was subjected to severe hardship and forced labour. 

His writings dealt with themes of false ideals, human destructiveness and the madness of war.  Pierre Boulle wrote of his personal experiences in the war in  My Own River Kwai.  He claimed his chief relaxation was fencing.  

Pierre Boulle was later made a chevalier of the Légion d'Honneur and decorated with the Croix de Guerre and the Médaille de la Résistance. 

Image source (1)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Let the sun shine . . .

Today is the birthday of a great polymath, Nicolaus Copernicus (February 19, 1473 – May 24, 1543). He was a mathematician, astronomer, jurist, physician, classical scholar, governor, administrator, diplomat, economist, artist, translator and soldier. 

Nicolaus Copernicus is remembered for the Copernican heliocentrism theory of the solar system. He provided the first modern formulation of a heliocentric (sun-centered) theory of the solar system in his epochal book, De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres).

"To know that we know what we know, and to know that we do not know what we do not know, that is true knowledge." - Nicolaus Copernicus

Image Source (1)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

How fast is fast . . .

A birthday salute to Ernst Waldfried Josef Wenzel Mach (February 18, 1838 – February 19, 1916), physicist and philosopher. His name is immortal through his Mach number, which expresses the speed of matter relative to the speed of sound at a certain temperature. Mach is the measuring unit for supersonic planes and very fast cars. 

Ernst Mach supported the view that all knowledge is a conceptual organization of the data of sensory experience (or observation). He is, also known, in the area of sensory perception, for an optical illusion called the Mach band.

"I know of nothing more terrible than the poor creatures who have learned too much. Instead of the sound powerful judgement which would probably have grown up if they had learned nothing, their thoughts creep timidly and hypnotically after words, principles and formulae, constantly by the same paths. What they have acquired is a spider's web of thoughts too weak to furnish sure supports, but complicated enough to provide confusion." - Ernst Mach

"The true inquirer seeks the truth everywhere." - Ernst Mach

Photo source (1)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Buy direct . . .

Today is the birthday of Aaron Montgomery Ward (February 17, 1844 - December 7, 1913), an American businessman credited with the invention of mail order.

Aaron Montgomery Ward founded the world's first mail-order business, Montgomery Ward Co., in 1872.

He was a traveling salesman who noticed that rural residents desired goods not available in their hometowns. So he created a mail-order business in Chicago and sent out his first single-sheet price list in August 1872. It was a slow start, until 1875 when he coined the slogan, “satisfaction guaranteed or your money back”. By 1883 the “Wish Book,” as it came to be known, had grown to 240 pages with more than 10,000 items.

Countless other catalog-based companies have followed in his footsteps, including information-age retailers like

"Cut out the middleman." - A. M. Ward

In 1946, the Grolier Club, a society of bibliophiles in New York, exhibited the Montgomery Ward catalog alongside Webster's dictionary as one of the hundred books with the most influence on life and culture of the American people.

Photo source (1)

Monday, February 16, 2009

So why take a chance . . .

Today is the birthday of Edgar Bergen (February 16, 1903 - September 30, 1978), actor and radio performer, best known as a ventriloquist (puppet Charlie McCarthy).

"Hard work never killed anybody, but why take a chance?" - Edgar Bergen/Charlie McCarthy

Ventriloquist Edgar Bergen with Charlie McCarthy
from the film
Stage Door Canteen (1943)

A birthday shout out to James Ingram (born February 16, 1956), an American musician.  My memories of James involves volley ball/basketball in the park (California days) with the gang from Wood Shed Studio (Robertson Blvd. LA/CA), before his Grammy award for One Hundred Ways . . . 

Happy Birthday James!

Send a birthday greeting to James:

James Ingram website

Bergen photo source (1)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The pendulum swings . . .

Happy Birthday to Galileo Galilei (February 15, 1564 - January 8, 1642) was an Italian physicist and astronomer. His initial fame came at age 20, from his observation of a lamp swinging overhead while he was in a cathedral. The law of the pendulum, which would eventually be used to regulate clocks, made Galileo Galilei instantly famous.  He has been referred to as the "Father of Modern Science".

“All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.” - Galileo Galilei

“You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him discover it in himself.” - Galileo Galilei

“I have never met a man so ignorant that I couldn't learn something from him.” - Galileo Galilei

“Doubt is the father of invention.” - Galileo Galilei

“I've loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night” - Galileo Galilei

Image source (1)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Believe in yourself . . .

A birthday salute to Frederick Douglass (born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey, February 14, 1818 – February 20, 1895), author, statesman, lecturer and reformer. He was known as "The Sage of Anacostia" and "The Lion of Anacostia".

He wrote three autobiographies during his life-time: A Narrative on the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (1845), My Bondage and My Freedom (1855), and Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (1881).

"No man can put a chain about the ankle of his fellow man without at last finding the other end fastened about his own neck." - Frederick Douglass

"When men sow the wind it is rational to expect that they will reap the whirlwind." - Frederick Douglass
"What is possible for me is possible for you." - Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass sought to embody three keys for success in life: The first key is to believe in yourself,  the second key is to take advantage of every opportunity and the third key is to use the power of spoken/written language to effect positive change for yourself and society. (source)

Douglass image source (1)

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Right Stuff . . .

Happy Birthday to Charles Elwood "Chuck" Yeager (born February 13, 1923), the first pilot (at age 24) to travel faster than sound.

Retired Brig. Gen. Chuck Yeager
September 21, 2007

"Rules are made for people who aren't willing to make up their own." - Chuck Yeager

“Unfortunately, many people do not consider fun an important item on their daily agenda. For me, that was always high priority in whatever I was doing.” - Chuck Yeager

“The secret to my success was that somehow I always managed to live to fly another day.” - Chuck Yeager

Wish General Yeager a Happy Birthday on his site and/or at the site.  Join his fans at

Photo Source (1)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Two Rebel Giants . . .

This is the bicentennial for Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin. They were both born on February 12, 1809, both loss their mother at an early age, both suffered the loss of three children, both compulsive scribblers and both died in the month of April.

Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865) was a U.S. politician, 16th President of the United States and first American president to be assassinated.

"all men are created equal" - Abraham Lincoln

"Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, can not long retain it." - Abraham Lincoln

"I am rather inclined to silence, and whether that be wise or not, it is at least more unusual nowadays to find a man who can hold his tongue than to find one who cannot." - Abraham Lincoln

"Leave nothing for tomorrow which can be done today." - Abraham Lincoln

Charles Robert Darwin (February 12, 1809 – April 19, 1882) was an English naturalist.  He is best known for his theories of evolution and natural selection.

"Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science." - Charles Darwin

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” - Charles Darwin

“A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.” - Charles Darwin

Happy Birthday to two Rebel Giants!

Lincoln Photo Source (1)
Darwin Photo Source (1)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Is that an idea . . .

Today, in the United States, is National Inventors Day. It is a celebration of the birthday of Thomas Alva Edison (February 11, 1847 – October 18, 1931), an American inventor and businessman.

Thomas Alva Edison is considered one of the most prolific inventors in history, holding 1,093 U.S. patents in his name and many outside the United States. "The Wizard of Menlo Park" is best known for inventing the phonograph and the first commercially practical incandescent light bulb.  

"I have not failed, I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." - Thomas Alva Edison

"If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves." - Thomas Alva Edison

"The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will instruct his patient in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease. They may even discover the germ of old age." - Thomas Alva Edison

"Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up." - Thomas Alva Edison

"It is very beautiful over there!" - Thomas Alva Edison
(These have sometimes been reported as his last words)

Photo source (1)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Calling Dr. Comfort . . .

Today we give a birthday salute to Alexander Comfort (February 10, 1920 - March 26, 2000), physician, gerontologist, author and pacifist. Dr. Comfort wrote more than 50 books, but is best known for his book, The Joy of Sex (one more on the list of books folks tried to ban from public libraries).

"Remember when you hear them beginning to say Freedom. Look carefully - see who it is that they want you to butcher. " - Alex Comfort

Alex Comfort devoted much of the 1950s and 1960s to studying the biology of aging (biogerontology). He belived that life expectancy could be extended to 120 and was very involved in studying the possibilities of life extension.

Note: "At seven, already a rebel, he ran away from school. At 14, while experimenting with gunpowder, he blew off all the fingers but not the thumb on his left hand. In spite of this, he was able to qualify as a surgeon, after winning his degree from Trinity College, Cambridge, where he first studied classics, then medicine." (

There is something serendipitous in a doctor with the name Comfort writing a book on The Joy of Sex and proclaiming the life expectancy to be 120.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Let's samba . . .

A centennial birthday salute to Maria do Carmo Miranda da Cunha (February 9, 1909 – August 5, 1955), better known by the stage name Carmen Miranda, samba singer and actress.

She was known as the "Brazilian Bombshell"; however she was actually born in Portugal and as a child her family moved to Rio de Janeiro.

Carmen Miranda was one of the highest-paid entertainers in the United States for many years in 1940s. In 1945 she became the highest-paid woman in America (USA).

Carmen Miranda was, also, a talented sketch artist and costume designer.   She was  very active in charitable work, seeing to it that a generous percentage of her earnings were sent to the destitute in South America.  Happy Birthday Carmen!

Photo Source (1)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

What do you see in the future . . .

Happy Birthday to Jules Gabriel Verne (February 8, 1828 – March 24, 1905), French author oft referred to as one of the "Fathers of Science Fiction". One might say he was a prolific writer, for over 40 years he published at least one book per year on a wide range of subjects, many with futuristic themes.

“I believe cats to be spirits come to earth. A cat, I am sure, could walk on a cloud without coming through.” - Jules Verne

“Anything one man can imagine, other men can make real." - Jules Verne

“The sea is everything. It covers seven tenths of the terrestrial globe. Its breath is pure and healthy. It is an immense desert, where man is never lonely, for he feels life stirring on all sides.” - Jules Verne

“Travel enables us to enrich our lives with new experiences, to enjoy and to be educated, to learn respect for foreign cultures, to establish friendships, and above all to contribute to international cooperation and peace throughout the world.” - Jules Verne

Photo credit (1)

Saturday, February 7, 2009

A man for all seasons . . .

A birthday salute to Thomas More (7 February 1478 – 6 July 1535), English author, statesman and scholar.

Sir Thomas More (later canonized St. Thomas More) is famous for his book Utopia published in the early 1500s and for his martyrdom (he was beheaded for refusing to sign the Act of Supremacy).  His head was parboiled and posted on a pike on the London Bridge for a month; however, after a month, instead of it being thrown in the river, his daughter Margaret Roper acquired it with a bribe (she pickled it to preserve it). The final fate of the head is uncertain, some say the relic is in Devonshire, England and some say the Roper Vault of St. Dunstan's, Canterbury. 

Note:  Thomas More coined the term "utopia" which is a pun meaning both "good place" and "no place."  

"They wonder much to hear that gold, which in itself is so useless a thing, should be everywhere so much esteemed, that even men for whom it was made, and by whom it has its value, should yet be thought of less value than it is." - Thomas More

“An absolutely new idea is one of the rarest things known to man.” - Thomas More

“The light, that lies In woman's eyes, Has been my heart's undoing” - Thomas More

Thomas More Photo credit (1)

Friday, February 6, 2009

Tell no one . . .

Today is the birthday of Adam Weishaupt (February 6, 1748 – November 18, 1830), a German educator, philosopher, freemason and founder of the Order of Illuminati.

What would conspiracy theorists do without his contributions to the world of ideas?

"I am proud to be known to the world as the founder of the Illuminati." - Adam Weishaupt

"Of all the means I know to lead men, the most effectual is a concealed mystery. The hankering of the mind is irresistible." - Adam Weishaupt

"Oh mortal man, is there anything you cannot be made to believe?" - Adam Weishaupt

"The great strength of our Order lies in it's concealment, let it never appear in any place in it's own name, but always covered by another name, and another occupation. None is fitter than the three lower degrees of Freemasonry, the public is accustomed to it, expects little from it, and therefore takes little notice of it. Next to this, the form of a learned or literary society is best suited to our purpose, and had Freemasonry not existed, this cover would have been employed; and it may be much more than a cover, it may be a powerful engine in our hands. By establishing Reading Societies, and subscription libraries, and taking these under our direction, and supplying them through our labours, we may turn the public mind which way we will." - Adam Weishaupt

Adam Weishaupt image credit (1)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

And the beat goes on . . .

A birthday salute to William Seward Burroughs II (February 5, 1914 – August 2, 1997), avant-garde author and one of the primary voices of the Beat Generation

He is best known as the author of Naked Lunch, an extremely controversial work.  The book, in its early publication, was banned in many regions of the United States.  

The banning did not stop the readership, as the novel was included in Time magazine's "100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005".

William S. Burroughs II has been referred to as one of the greatest and most influential writers of the twentieth century. He was elected to the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1984.

"There couldn't be a society of people who didn't dream. They'd be dead in two weeks." - William Seward Burroughs II

William S. Burroughs lecture on public discourse
(August 11, 1980)

Burroughs photo credit (1)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Philately flying . . .

A birthday salute to Charles Augustus Lindbergh (February 4, 1902 – August 26, 1974), renowned American aviator.

Lindbergh was also, a prolific prize-winning author, international explorer, inventor, and active environmentalist.  He was an Airmail pioneer and advocate, making many public appearances to promote Airmail.

Note: The USPS decided to inaugurate regular Airmail service on May 15, 1918. A Curtiss Jenny was the biplane chosen to shuttle the mail. The plane's slow speed and stability made it ideal for stunt flying, aerobatic displays and Airmail service. The Inverted Jenny is a United States postage stamp of 1918 in which a Curtiss JN4 aircraft in the center of the design was accidentally printed upside-down. It is one of the most well-known stamps in philately

Charles Lindbergh began his flying career touring the country with barnstormers who taught him how to wingwalk and parachute jump.  In 1923, he bought his first plane, a Jenny, for $500.  He made his first solo flight in it.  

Lindbergh Stamp

In 1927 a USPS Lindbergh Air Mail stamp was created to commemorate Charles Lindbergh's record-breaking transatlantic flight in the Spirit of St. Louis. The plane is a specially constructed Ryan monoplane.  In the same year, Charles Lindbergh was the first Time Magazine Person of the Year.

Charles Linbergh received the Pulitzer Prize in 1954 for his book, The Spirit of St. Louis, the story of his 1927 non-stop trans-Atlantic crossing.

History of Flight Through Stamps

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Rose is a rose is a rose. . .

Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday to Gertrude Stein (February 3, 1874 – July 27, 1946), an avant-garde American author and patron of the arts. Her Paris home was a popular salon for the Cubist/experimental artists and writers, of her time (Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Georges Braque, Max Jacob, Juan Gris, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sherwood Anderson, Ernest Hemingway, etc.).

Gertrude Stein tried to capture moments in time and streams of consciousness in her writing - she loved repetition.

"Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose"- Gertrude Stein

Speaking of roses, a Happy Birthday salute to Al Rose (February 3, 1916 - December 16, 1993), author, caricaturist, jazz historian and promoter.

Al was a delightful character. One of my fondest memories of Al was on the phone, when he said "Someone here would like to say hello" and it turned out to be Eubie Blake (to my delight).  You never knew who you would meet hanging around Al.  He was part of the magic mystery of New Orleans.  Sometimes, memories are all we have, Hurricane Katrina washed away my signed copies of Al's books, but not my memories of Al. I will get another copy of the books; however, it will seem as if the books have never known their author.

Books by Al Rose:  New Orleans Jazz: A Family Album, Storyville, New Orleans: Being an Authentic, Illustrated Account of the Notorious Red Light District, Eubie Blake, and I Remember Jazz: Six Decades Among the Great Jazzmen.

Gertrude Stein photo credit (1)

Monday, February 2, 2009

Does nobody understand . . .

Today we celebrate the life and works of James Augustine Aloysius Joyce (February 2, 1882 – January 13, 1941), Irish novelist, short-story writer and poet.

James Joyce led a nomadic life, and in his writing career suffered from rejections from publishers, suppression by censors, attacks by critics, and misunderstanding by readers.

"Does nobody understand?"
- James Joyce, Last words (January 1941)

Ulysses was published in its entirety on February 2, 1922, in Paris, France and is considered James Joyce's greatest work. In fact, many refer to it as one of the most important works of Modernist literature.

It was a controversial work. Its censorship for obscenity in America and England were not lifted until the mid-1930s.  The novel Ulysses by James Joyce was burned in the U.S. (1918), Ireland (1922), Canada (1922), England (1923) and banned in England (1929). (source) How many "banned books" have you read? Visit the Forbidden Library to find out.

February is Library Lovers Month.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Hold fast to dreams . . .

So with that in mind, give a birthday salute to two giants of the Harlem Renaissance:  James Price Johnson (February 1, 1894–November 17, 1955), pianist/composer and James Mercer Langston Hughes (February 1, 1902 – May 22, 1967), best known as the poet Langston Hughes.

Among his many achievements, James P. Johnson is credited with introducing the stride piano style and composing The Charleston.

Poet, playwright, novelist, and journalist, Langston Hughes is known as the Poet Laureate of the Harlem Renaissance.

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed —
Let it be that great strong land of love . . .
- Langston Hughes 

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly. . .

A note of interest: The Opera De Organizer. These two gentlemen collaborated in the late 1930's on the creation of a one-act opera De Organizer.  I wonder if they ever celebrated their birthdays together . . .