Wednesday, November 30

I told you not to use Lifebuoy!

It... It was... soap poisoning!
While thinking about A Christmas Story (based upon Jean Shepherd's In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash) I have finally figured out what happened to my eyes!

Narrator: Over the years I got to be quite a connoisseur of soap. My personal preference was for Lux, but I found Palmolive had a nice, piquant after-dinner flavor - heady, but with just a touch of mellow smoothness. Lifebuoy, on the other hand...

Ralphie: Yech!

Narrator: There has never been a kid who didn't believe vaguely, but insistently, that he would be stricken blind before he reached 21, and then they'd be sorry. 


Mom: Why, it's Ralph!
Old Man:
Well, come on in, Ralph. Where've you been? Mom: Why, he's carrying a cane!
Old Man:
What is it, Ralph? What happened?
Why, he's blind!
Old Man:
Blind? Oh, my God!
Ralph, is it something we did?
Old Man:
What brought you to this lonely state?
Ralph, please tell us no matter how it hurts. What did we do?
No, I can't.
Please, Ralph. I must know what we did. What brought you to this?
Old Man:
It... It was... soap poisoning!
Old Man:
Oh, how could we do it?
I'll manage to get along, somehow.
I'll never forgive myself.
Thanks, Mom.
Old Man:
I told you not to use Lifebuoy. Oh, I feel awful!

Momma, you've got some 'splainin to do!


Tuesday, November 29

All geared up

After viewing royal warrants of appointment, which have been issued for centuries to those who supply goods or services to a royal court or certain royal personage, I have decided to bestow my approval upon those who have supplied Me with cool gear.

So the first official Steampunk Addie Gears go to:

Congratulations to All!

I am always looking for cool supplies, but woe be unto the person who uses My Gear of Approval without My Approval!

My oiled blue steel beauty

Momma was stunned this weekend when her Poppa gave her his treasured Red Ryder BB gun.

The Red Ryder BB gun was prominently featured in the classic 1983 movie A Christmas Story, in which Ralphie repeatedly requests one for Christmas but is always told, "You'll shoot your eye out."

(Beginning on Sunday, Nov. 6, 1938, Red Ryder was a popular long-running Western comic strip created by Stephen Slesinger and artist Fred Harman that also appeared in radio, comic books, movies and television, until the strip came to an end in 1964.

The Red Ryder BB Gun was introduced in 1938 by Daisy Outdoor Products. Made to resemble a Winchester rifle, the movie's fictional BB gun, described as the "Red Ryder carbine-action, 200 shot Range Model air rifle with a compass in the stock and a thing which tells time," never existed. The Red Ryder featured in the movie was specially made to match the
BB gun author Jean Shepherd remembered. (The "Buck Jones" Daisy air rifle, immediately above the Red Ryder in the Daisy line, did have a compass and sundial in the stock, but no other features of the "Red Ryder" model.)

BB gun and a stand-up advertisement featuring the Red Ryder character appeared in a Higbee's store window in the film, along with dolls, a train, and Radio Flyer wagons.

According to Grand
momma, Higbee's was a department store founded 1860 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Public Square flagship store featured in A Christmas Story closed in January 2002, but now houses the Convention & Visitors Bureau of Greater Cleveland.

And don't worry - neither Momma nor I shall shoot our eyes out since Momma declined Grandpoppa's offer of buying BBs.

Monday, November 28

Aloha ʻoe

Today my friend Kanani and I remember King Kamehameha IV and his wife Emma of Hawai'i.

Within a year of ascending the throne in 1855, the 20-year-old King Kamehameha IV and his bride, Emma Rooke, embarked on the path of altruism and unassuming humility for which they have been revered by their people. The year before, Honolulu, and especially its native Hawaiians, had been horribly afflicted by smallpox. The people, accustomed to a royalty which ruled with pomp and power, were confronted instead by a king and queen who went about, “with notebook in hand,” soliciting from rich and poor the funds to build a hospital. Queen’s Hospital, named for Emma, is now the largest civilian hospital in Hawai'i.

In 1860, the king and queen petitioned the Bishop of Oxford to send missionaries to establish the Anglican Church in Hawai'i. The king’s interest came through a boyhood tour of England where he had seen, in the stately beauty of Anglican liturgy, a quality that seemed attuned to the gentle beauty of the Hawaiian spirit. England responded by sending The Rt. Rev. Thomas N. Staley and two priests. They arrived on Oct. 11, 1862, and the king and queen were confirmed a month later, on Nov. 28, 1862. They then began preparations for a cathedral and school, and the king set about to translate the Book of Common Prayer and much of the Hymnal.

Kamehameha’s life was marred by the tragic death of his 4-year-old son and only child, in 1863. He seemed unable to survive his sadness, although a sermon he preached after his son’s death expresses a hope and faith that is eloquent and profound. His own death took place only a year after his son’s, in 1864. Emma declined to rule; instead, she committed her life to good works. She was responsible for schools, churches, and efforts on behalf of the poor and sick. She traveled several times to England and the Continent to raise funds, and became a favorite of Queen Victoria’s. Archbishop Longley of Canterbury, remarked upon her visit to Lambeth: “I was much struck by the cultivation of her mind … But what excited my interest most was her almost saintly piety.”

The Cathedral was completed after Emma died. It was named St. Andrew’s in memory of the king, who died on that saint’s day. Among the Hawaiian people, Emma is still referred to as “our beloved Queen.”

Their successor, Kamehameha V, was the last of his dynasty. In 1893 Queen Lili'uokalani (who wrote the song Aloha ʻOe) was deposed and a republic proclaimed. The United States annexed the Republic of Hawai'i in 1898 and Hawai'i was made a territory in 1900 and a State in 1959.
O Sovereign God, who raised up (King) Kamehameha (IV) and (Queen) Emma to be rulers in Hawai'i, and didst inspire and enable them to be diligent in good works for the welfare of their people and the good of thy Church: Receive our thanks for their witness to the Gospel; and grant that we, with them, may attain to the crown of glory that fadeth not away; through Jesus Christ our Savior and Redeemer, who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever.

Sunday, November 27

This Week in The Civil War: Sunday, Nov. 27

The Trent Affair - Britain and U.S. in crisis

The Trent Affair, a diplomatic crisis involving the doctrine of freedom of the seas that brought Britain and the United States to their closest point of possible hostilities early in the Civil War, reaches a boiling point this week 150 years ago. Word that the Union warship USS San Jacinto had stopped the neutral British ship Trent east of Cuba on Nov. 8, 1861, and seized two Confederate diplomats bound for Britain, inflames tensions between the two nations. The Trent steams on without the pair, arriving with its remaining passengers in London on Nov. 27, 1861. An emergency British Cabinet meeting is called. Britain demands an apology and the release of the seized Confederates, arguing the San Jacinto acted in violation of international law. Northerners overwhelmingly laud the detention of Confederate envoys James Mason and John Slidell, then on a mission to seek British and French support for the Confederacy. Southern authorities condemn the detentions. The Times-Picayune of New Orleans proclaims Nov. 23, 1861: "The act of the San Jacinto was in flagrant violation of the law of nations." After heated Cabinet meetings, President Abraham Lincoln adopts a conciliatory approach, seeking to avert any armed conflict with Britain. In December, the U.S. government concedes in a note to Britain that the San Jacinto captain erred in failing to bring the Trent to port for a court ajudication of the matter. The U.S. releases Mason and Slidell in January 1862 to continue their mission to Europe. But European powers decline to intervene in the Civil War on behalf of the Confederacy and the successful resolution of the Trent Affair builds confidence between the British and U.S. governments.

Saturday, November 26

It's easy bein' green

Kermit the Frog is puppeteer Jim Henson's first and most famous Muppet (sorry Miss Piggy). First introduced in 1955, his hit, Bein' Green, was written in 1970 for the first season of Sesame Street.

It's not that easy being green

Having to spend each day the color of the leaves
When I think it could be nicer being red, or yellow or gold
Or something much more colorful like that

It's not easy being green
It seems you blend in with so many other ordinary things
And people tend to pass you over 'cause you're
Not standing out like flashy sparkles in the water
Or stars in the sky

But green's the color of Spring
And green can be cool and friendly-like
And green can be big like an ocean, or important
Like a mountain, or tall like a tree

When green is all there is to be
It could make you wonder why, but why wonder why
Wonder, I am green and it'll do fine, it's beautiful
And I think it's what I want to be

Kermit, who was performed by Henson until his death in 1990, is the spokefrog for many Muppet projects (most notably as the host of The Muppet Show) and has appeared in various sketches on Sesame Street, commercials, and in public service announcements over the years.
Kermit also performed the hit single The Rainbow Connection in 1979 for The Muppet Movie, the first feature-length film featuring Henson's Muppets. Kermit was credited as the author of Before You Leap: A Frog's Eye View of Life's Greatest Lessons, which is an "autobiography" told from the perspective of the character himself.

Friday, November 25

Getting jiggy with Miss Piggy

jig·gy [jig-ee]
adjective, ‐gi·er, ‐gi·est. Slang.
1. nervous; active; excitedly energetic.
2. wonderful and exciting, especially because stylish. 

Momma been a fan of the Muppets since they first began so she couldn't wait to take Moi and my Big Sister to see the new Muppet movie which opened yesterday.

So who is Moi's favorite? Miss Piggy, of course.

(I shall admit to an unrequited fondness for Kermit the Frog, but I am not about to get into a tussle with Miss Piggy over him!)

Miss Piggy is convinced she is destined for stardom, and nothing will stand in her way. She is the essence of feminine charm, but can fly into a violent rage whenever she thinks she has been insulted or thwarted. Kermit is often the target of her anger or kisses.

Miss Piggy's first known appearance (who was noticeably nicer) was on a TV special Herb Alpert and the TJB, broadcast on Oct. 13, 1974.

She appeared briefly in the 1975 pilot special The Muppet Show: Sex and Violence, in a sketch called "Return to Beneath the Planet of the Pigs." (An early version of Pigs in Space?) She was unnamed in that show and was a blonde, beady-eyed pig, but by the time The Muppet Show began in 1976, she was recognizably Miss Piggy with large blue eyes.

Miss Piggy soon developed into a major character. For awhile in the late '70s and early '80s she was the most popular of all the Muppets!

As for her name, in The Muppet Show episode 106, Miss Piggy is referred to by the full name "Piggy Lee." In episode 116, Miss Piggy says that Piggy is short for "Pigathius," which is "from the Greek, meaning 'river of passion.'" She later explains that her first name is actually the more feminine-sounding version of Pigathius, "Pigathia."

In a 1979 interview with the New York Times, Frank Oz outlined Miss Piggy's biography:
"She grew up in a small town in Iowa; her father died when she was young, and her mother wasn't that nice to her. She had to enter beauty contests to survive, as many single women do. She has a lot of vulnerability which she has to hide, because of her need to be a superstar."

I have to admit I like any woman who knows her own mind and goes for it.

Thursday, November 24

A day of Thanksgiving and Praise

This is the proclamation which set the precedent for America's national day of Thanksgiving.

Prior to this, each state scheduled its own Thanksgiving holiday at different times, mainly in New England and other Northern states.

Sarah Josepha Hale, the 74-year-old editor of Godey's Lady's Book and author of Mary Had a Little Lamb, wrote a letter to President Lincoln on Sept. 28, 1863, urging him to have the "day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union Festival."

She explained, "You may have observed that, for some years past, there has been an increasing interest felt in our land to have the Thanksgiving held on the same day, in all the States; it now needs National recognition and authoritative fixation, only, to become permanently, an American custom and institution."

The new national holiday was considered a unifying day after the stress of the American Civil War. Prior to the addition of Thanksgiving, the only national holidays celebrated in the United States were Washington's Birthday and Independence Day.

The document below sets apart the last Thursday of November "as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise." According to an April 1, 1864, letter from John Nicolay, one of President Lincoln's secretaries, this document was handwritten by Secretary of State William Seward. A year later the manuscript, which is now part of the
National Archives, was sold to benefit Union troops.
By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth. 

By the President:
William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

In 1939 President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday to the third Thursday of November to lengthen the Christmas shopping season and boost the economy still recovering from the Depression. This move, which set off a national debate, was reversed in 1941 when Congress passed and President Roosevelt approved a joint house resolution establishing, by law, the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day.

Wednesday, November 23

Begging your (turkey) pardon

People seem to think the President of the United States has nothing better to do than pardon turkeys, but that's not so.

Each year since 1947, the National Turkey Federation and the Poultry and Egg National Board have given a turkey to the President of the United States at a White House ceremony. Since then, presidents were more likely to eat the turkey rather than give it a reprieve. A notable exception occurred in 1963, when President Kennedy, referring to the turkey given to him, said, "Let's just keep him."

It wasn't until 1989 that a turkey was officially pardoned for the first time by
President George H.W. Bush. Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush continued the tradition. Some confusion about the true origin of this practice has crept into recent presidential speeches though.

One story claims that Harry Truman pardoned the turkey given to him in 1947, but the Truman Library has been unable to find any evidence of this. Another story claims the tradition dates back to Abraham Lincoln pardoning his son Tad's pet turkey.

Supposedly, Lincoln's 10-year-old son, Tad Lincoln, christened
a bird given to Honest Abe in 1863 as "Jack" and was therefore less than delighted by the prospect of having his feathered friend served for the family's Christmas feast. The boy, it is said, burst into one of his father's cabinet meetings to plead for the bird's life, a request Lincoln agreed to.

For 15 years through 2004, the presidential turkeys were given to Kidwell Farm, a petting zoo at Frying Pan Park in Herndon, Virg. The turkeys would receive a last minute pardon before arriving, and were then led to their new home at the Turkey Barn after enduring a turkey "roast" full of poultry humor and history.

In 2005 and 2006, however, the turkeys were flown to Disneyland in California where they served as honorary grand marshals for Disneyland's Thanksgiving Day parade. After that, they spent the rest of their lives at a Disneyland ranch. (Disneyland seems much better than a place called Frying Pan Park!)

I can find no word on the fate of the turkeys since 2007. I know President Obama pardoned a turkey, but where did it go?

Tuesday, November 22

The day the muses died

Between Heaven and Hell
On Nov. 22, 1963 three influential men and authors died: author Aldous Huxley, U.S. President John F. Kennedy, and author C. S. Lewis.

The world was so shattered by Kennedy's assassination that the other deaths were barely noted at the time, so I thought I'd take a moment to think of all three.

Huxley was an English writer best known for his novels including Brave New World and a wide-ranging output of essays. Huxley also edited the magazine Oxford Poetry, and published short stories, poetry, travel writing, and film stories and scripts. Huxley spent the later part of his life in the United States, living in Los Angeles from 1937 until his death.

Kennedy was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963. He was the youngest elected to the office and the first president to have been born in the 20th century. Kennedy is the only Catholic president, and is the only president to have won a Pulitzer Prize. Events during his presidency included the Bay of Pigs Invasion, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the building of the Berlin Wall, the Space Race, the African American Civil Rights Movement and early stages of the Vietnam War.

Lewis, known to his friends and family as "Jack," was a novelist, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian and Christian apologist. He is known for his fictional work, especially The Screwtape Letters, The Chronicles of Narnia and The Space Trilogy.

Today The Episcopal Church and I remember Lewis:
O God of searing truth and surpassing beauty, we give thee thanks for Clive Staples Lewis, whose sanctified imagination lighteth fires of faith in young and old alike. Surprise us also with thy joy and draw us into that new and abundant life which is ours in Christ Jesus, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

On November 22, 1963, three great men died within a few hours of each other: C.S. Lewis, John F. Kennedy and Aldous Huxley. All three believed, in different ways, that death is not the end of human life. Suppose they were right, and suppose they met after death. How might the conversation go? Peter Kreeft imagines their discourse as a modern Socratic dialog--a part of The Great Conversation that has been going on for centuries. Does human life have meaning? Is it possible to know about life after death? What if one could prove that Jesus was God? Combining logical argument and literary imagination, Kreeft portrays Lewis as a Christian theist, Kennedy as a modern humanist and Huxley as an Eastern pantheist. Their interaction involves not only good thinking but good drama.

Sounds fascinating and the premise (of course) reminds me of Lewis' own The Screwtape Letters.

Did you ever see a Turkey

Momma says her family has been singing this song for as long as she can remember. Her grandfather taught it to her, and before that he taught it to her father.

(sung to the tune of Did you ever see a Lassie)

Oh here we come marching,
Our fine feathers arching.
Oh, gobble, gobble, gobble,
Fine turkeys are we.

We are for Thanksgiving,
As sure as you're living.
Oh, gobble, gobble, gobble,
Fine turkeys are we.
Author Unknown
A search on Google brings up some similar songs but not an identical song. Apparently it changed a bit as it was orally taught to each generation.

However, a similar version was found in a 1902 manual for teachers: Outlines and Suggestions for Primary Teachers
Oh, see us come marching,
Our fine feathers arching.
We're kings of the barnyard
Plump turkeys are we.

We strut all so proudly.
We gobble so loudly
Oh, 'Gobble! Gobble! Gobble!'
Plump turkeys are we.
Another similar version is in the April 1904 School Work, Volume 3 by Leon W. Goldrich and Olivia Mary Jones:
Oh, see us come a-marching,
Our fine feathers arching,
We're kings of the barn-yard—
Plump turkeys are we;
We strut all so proudly,
We gobble so loudly—
Oh, "gobble! gobble! gobble!"
Plump turkeys are we.
Oh, would you think—scarcely—
That dressed up in parsley,
We kings of the barn-yard
Soon roasted will be?
Oh "gobble! gobble! gobble!"
Plump turkeys are we.

Do you have any family Thanksgiving traditions?

Monday, November 21

Hot to Turkey Trot

In honor of the upcoming Thanksgiving day celebration, I am celebrating what is the highlight of most Thanksgiving dinner: turkey.

Today's entree is a rollicking song featured in several of Maud Hart Lovelace's Betsy-Tacy and Deep Valley books:
Joseph M. Daly's 1912 Turkey Trot.
"I lost my privileges for six weeks last spring because I tried one innocent little turkey trot."

But that gave way to “Everybody's Doing It,” and Fred Muller made her try the Turkey Trot. Everyone praised her dancing.

She loved the new dances: the graceful Boston Dip, the demure Hesitation, the rollicking Turkey Trot, and the absurd stiff-legged Castle Walk.

"They've brought us out of the turkey-trot-bunny- hug vulgarity. The maxixe and the tango are quite lovely." "That's true," Tib said, looking at him with respect.

Mr. Bagshaw and Tib in Betsy's Wedding

The Turkey Trot was a dance done to fast ragtime music popular in the decade from 1900 to 1910 such as Scott Joplin's Maple Leaf Rag. It lost favor to the Foxtrot in 1914.

The basic step consisted of four hopping steps sideways with the feet well apart, first on one leg, then the other with a characteristic rise on the ball of the foot, followed by a drop upon the heel. The dance was embellished with scissor-like flicks of the feet and fast trotting actions with abrupt stops.

Irene and Vernon Castle raised its popularity by dancing the Turkey Trot in the Broadway show The Sunshine Girl
It was denounced by the Vatican (it was thought to be "suggestive") and conservative members of society felt the dance was demoralizing and tried to get it banned at public functions.

One of the means to combat "offensive" dances was the 1913 song, Anti-Ragtime Girl:

She don’t do the Bunny Hug
nor dance the Grizzly Bear

She hasn't learned the Turkey Trot

She can't tell a Tango from a Can Can or a Jig

She's my little Anti-Ragtime Girl.
It was reported that one of the reasons President Woodrow Wilson's 1913 inaugural ball was cancelled was because of his "disapproval of such modern dances as the Turkey Trot, the Grizzly Bear and the Bunny Hug."

Sunday, November 20

This Week in The Civil War: Sunday, Nov. 20

Action off Pensacola, Debate about freed slaves

Federal forces this week in 1861 continue to press their blockade of the Southern coast. Two Union men-of-war, the USS Niagara and the USS Richmond, turn their guns on Confederate defenses rimming Florida's northern panhandle — targeting Fort Barrancas, Fort McRee and the Pensacalo Navy Yard. After a bombardment spanning two days, there is little loss of life after an attack that will have little impact on the larger conduct of the war. Nonetheless the bombardment has damaged Fort McRae, where many women and children took refuge, several Navy Yard buildings, and a nearby village. In 1862, Pensacola will ultimately be surrendered to Union troops who will use it as a staging point for Naval actions in the South the rest of the war. The Associated Press reports, meanwhile, that wintry weather has begun nipping at the Northern cities where many are alarmed at the high wartime price of coal used to heat homes and buildings. In Philadelphia, AP reports, "The coal question has been agitating residents of this city ever since the cold weather has set in." It adds some seek coal at lower prices directly from "Good Samaritans" at a Pennsylvania mine refusing to profit exceedingly from wartime scarcity. This same week AP reports from Washington that more pressing issues are emerging in Congress over how the Union should handle questions of slavery — and particularly escaped or liberated slaves known as "contrabands" who reach the federal side. "Inasmuch as many slaveholders in Virginia and in other quarters abandon their plantations when menaced by the Federal armies, and necessarily leave their slaves behind them, a practical question is forced up on the government as to what is to be done with the "contrabands," the AP dispatch notes.

Saturday, November 19

Four score and seven years ago...

U.S. President Abraham Lincoln delivered his famous Gettysburg Address on Nov. 19, 1863 at the dedication of the military cemetery ceremony at Gettysburg, Pa.

(The Battle of Gettysburg was fought July 1–3, 1863. It is often described as the war's turning point and had the most casualties in the American Civil War.) 

Despite the historical significance of Lincoln's speech, its exact wording is unknown since published, and even Lincoln's handwritten copies, differ. This is the only known version which Lincoln signed, and was the last he is known to have written.
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on 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 that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

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 consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, 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.

Scent of Sensibility


Don't tell Momma or Miss Sparrow but I found The Perfect Christmas Present for them today.

A perfume that smells like old books!
In the Library is a warm blend of English Novel, Russian & Moroccan Leather Bindings, Worn Cloth and a hint of Wood Polish.
Can you imagine?!
They all received perfume. Rose and lilac and violet and old books.

“You may exchange with one another,” Mrs. Poppy said. “I knew you wanted those four scents, but I didn't know which wanted which."

“But how did you know we wanted perfume at all?” they cried, exchanging.

“The man at the drug store told me. I told him whom I was buying it for and he seemed to know all about you."

With apologies to Maud Hart Lovelace
and her delightful book,
Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown.

(I just hope neither Momma nor Miss Sparrow reads this blog!) 

Friday, November 18

Singing Google doodle all the day

Google's Friday, Nov. 18, 2011 homepage Google doodle honors the 224th birthday of Louis Daguerre, a French artist and physicist, whose daguerreotypes were the beginnings of photography.

(I have to admit I love early forms of photography, so this tribute made me laugh.)

Joseph Nicéphore Niépce produced the world's first permanent photograph (known as a Heliograph) in 1822. The Daguerreotype process was "developed" by Daguerre with Niépce.

Daguerre's Daguerreotype patent was acquired by the French Government, and on Aug. 19, 1839 they announced the invention was a gift "Free to the World."

Later that year William Fox Talbot announced his silver chloride "sensitive paper" process in England making 1839 the year photography was born.

Steampunk Mickey

Happy birthday Mickey Mouse! 

Steamboat Willie, the first fully synchronized sound cartoon, was released Nov. 18, 1928.

Steamboat Willie is considered the debut of Mickey Mouse, as well as his girlfriend Minnie. (Steamboat Willie was the first of Mickey's films to be distributed but was the third to be produced.)

It is also considered to be Mickey's birthday by the Disney corporation!

So Mickey, should I serenade you with a rousing rendition of Turkey in the Straw since Thanksgiving is next week, or this fine number?
Oh Mickey, you're so fine,
You're so fine, you blow my mind.
Hey Mickey! Hey Mickey!

Thursday, November 17

The coat off his back

Speaking of The Wizard of Oz, did you know that actor Frank Morgan played five different characters in The Wizard of Oz, including Professor Marvel and the Wizard? 

On Nov. 17, 1938 Morgan tested his Professor Marvel makeup on The Wizard of Oz set, using the same costume he had worn for his Wizard test shots the day before.

Six days later, Morgan again posed for test shots of the Professor Marvel character, this time with a different hairstyle, jacket, and tie.

The story behind the second jacket is one of the most curious in all Oz . The story was told by Aljean Harmetz in her 1977 book,
The Making of The Wizard of Oz.

"For Professor Marvel's coat," says Mary Mayer, who served briefly as the unit publicist on the picture, "they wanted grandeur gone to seed. A nice-looking coat but very tattered. So the wardrobe department went down to an old second-hand store on Main Street and bought a whole rack of coats."

Actor Frank Morgan and the wardrobe man and director Victor Fleming got together and chose one. It was kind of a Prince Albert coat. It was black broadcloth and it had a velvet collar, but the nap was all worn off the velvet. Helene Bowman recalls the coat as "ratty with age, a Prince Albert jacket with a green look."

The coat fitted Morgan and had the right look of shabby gentility, and one hot afternoon Frank Morgan turned out the pocket. Inside was the name "L. Frank Baum."

"We wired the tailor in Chicago," says Mary Mayer, "and sent pictures. And the tailor sent back a notarized letter saying that the coat had been made for Frank Baum. Baum's widow identified the coat, too, and after the picture was finished we presented it to her. But I could never get anyone to believe the story."

L. Frank Baum died on May 6, 1919, nearly 20 years before the making of the movie!

Wednesday, November 16

Waxing the Philosopher's Stone

Do you know where you were 10 years ago?

The movie Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (or Sorcerer's Stone in the uneducated United States) was released on Nov. 16, 2001.

Where was I? Watching it with Momma and Grandmomma, of course!

And then there were three....

Momma gets all sentimental during the holidays - especially when it's something that combines a favorite book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, with a favorite movie, The Wizard of Oz.

First published in 1900, it went through several stage and film adaptations before its famous 1939 MGM version.

Telecasts of The Wizard of Oz began in on Nov. 3, 1956, re-introducing the film to the public and eventually becoming an annual Thanksgiving tradition.

So other than tradition, why are We thinking of The Wizard of Oz today?

Karl Slover, one of the last surviving actors who played a Munchkin in the classic film died Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011. He was 93.

Slover was best known for playing the lead trumpeter in the Munchkins' band but also had roles as a townsman and soldier in the film.

Of the 136 adults and children who were paid to perform as Munchkins, only three are known to still survive:

  1. Ruth Duccini of Glendale, Calif.
  2. Jerry Maren of Los Angeles, Calif.
  3. Margaret Pellegrini of Glendale, Ariz.

She blinded me with science


I am seriously geeking out and I don't know where to begin.

Do I hum Weird Science or She Blinded Me with Science?

Or should I go straight for the Star Trek theme? 

Join Mad Science as they present Star Trek Live: Starfleet Academy:
Eager to learn from Starfleet’s best and brightest, Captain James T. Kirk and Vulcan science officer Spock, our cadets assemble, anxious to prepare for their first day at the Academy and an exploration of the legendary U.S.S. Enterprise. As we are introduced to the proud legacy of the most powerful and most advanced ship in the fleet, the Enterprise and Earth itself come under attack from alien forces, leaving the fate of the Federation in the hands of our cadets. Our cadets will have to quickly learn the intricacies of living and working in space, modern space travel and the latest in communication and technology as they draw on the achievements of science in the 21st century. It will require all our knowledge, ingenuity, logic and an exploration of science to discover what is happening and how to set things right before it’s too late!

Star Trek Live: Starfleet Academy
1 and 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 20.
Mesa Arts Center
1 E. Main St.
Mesa, AZ
Admission is $14

Tuesday, November 15

Around the world in 76 days

While reading about Nellie Bly yesterday I came across another girl reporter who attempted to do the same thing at the same time ... with six hours notice!

While Nellie Bly had been thinking about her globe-trotting trip for a year and had two days to pack after her editors gave her the approval, Elizabeth Bisland's trip was largely unplanned and spontaneous.

Bly headed East and Bisland went West (on either Nov. 14 or 15, 1889), traveling the same route but in opposite directions.

Bisland completed her trip in less than 80 days as well, but since she took four days longer history quickly forgot her. 

I know both women traveled light but my mind boggles at leaving for trip around the world with only six hours to prepare.

My tiny top hat is off to you, Elizabeth Bisland.

Mind if I tag along? 

Monday, November 14

Around the world in 72 days

My hero.

On Nov. 14, 1889 pioneering female journalist Nellie Bly (aka Elizabeth Cochrane) began a successful attempt to travel around the world in less than 80 days.

She only took with her the dress she was wearing, an overcoat, several changes of unmentionables, and a small bag carrying her toiletries. She carried most of her money in a chamois bag tied around her neck.

While on her trip she met Jules Verne, author of Around the World in Eighty Days which was first published in 1873.

(When Verne asked Bly why she wasn't going to Bombay, India as Phileas Fogg had, she said, "Because I am anxious to save time, not a young widow.") 

Bly completed the trip in 72 days.

I'll bet she asked for directions.

For the first time, I feel wicked

I think I shall swoon.

Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked, Son of a Witch, A Lion Among Men and now Out of Oz, is coming to town tonight!

Have you read them? Or have you been lucky enough to see the Tony Award winning musical Wicked
Momma and I've read three of his Oz books (so far) and seen Wicked.

We are so excited! Here's a brief description about Out of Oz:
Once peaceful and prosperous, the spectacular Land of Oz is knotted with social unrest: The Emerald City is mounting an invasion of Munchkinland, Glinda is under house arrest, and the Cowardly Lion is on the run from the law. And look who's knocking at the door. It's none other than Dorothy. Yes. That Dorothy. Yet amid all this chaos, Elphaba's granddaughter, the tiny green baby born at the close of Son of a Witch, has come of age. Now it is up to Rain to take up her broom—and her legacy—in an Oz wracked by war.
Shall I see you at Changing Hands tonight? 

Or shall we be Wicked together at Gammage Auditorium, Feb. 15 through March 11?

Sunday, November 13

This Week in The Civil War: Sunday, Nov. 13

Port Royal aftermath, Seizure of Southern envoys

Detailed accounts by The Associated Press and others of the Battle of Port Royal, S.C., are reaching newspapers around the divided nation in mid-November of 1861. AP reports that Union forces off the South Carolina coast had captured 55 cannons, some 500 muskets and "any quantity of ammunition" during the attack. The dispatch also reports "Thirty dead rebels have been found, and more are being found, having been hastily buried in the sand." The New York Times reports on Nov. 14, 1861, that Union Brig. Gen. Thomas Sherman landed at Port Royal and issued a proclamation to "the people of South Carolina," the state where a Confederate artillery attack on Union-held Fort Sumter opened the war in April 1861. Sherman writes that federal forces have arrived "with no feelings of person animosity; no desire to harm your citizens, destroy your property, or interfere with any of your lawful rights." Yet the proclamation adds: "The civilized world stands appalled at the course you are pursuing! .. You are in a state of active rebellion against the laws of your country ... waging a ruthless war against your Constitutional Government ... "The Times reports new accounts of the battle, that federal warships delivered "raking broadsides" on the two Confederate-held forts lining Port Royal Sound. It adds: "All our accounts concur in testifying that the rebels fought bravely and well. But our broadsides were overwhelming." This month sees another key development in the federal capture of two Southern envoys, James Mason and John Slidell, taken off a British steamer intercepted at sea by the Union warship San Jacinto. The detention of the envoys - who had been sent by the Confederacy to Britain in hopes of boosting support for the South - heightens Union tensions for weeks with Britain.

Saturday, November 12

For Evers and Evers

A new Navy ship has been named in honor of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers.

His widow, Myrlie Evers, broke a bottle of champagne against the hull and was among the thousand people who attended the christening of the USNS Medgar Evers in San Diego on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2011.

I think he'd be pleased.

Medgar Evers, a World War II veteran and field secretary for the NAACP, was shot to death in 1963.

No laughing matter

On Nov. 12, 1847 Sir James Young Simpson, a Scottish obstetrician was the first to use chloroform (also known as laughing gas) as an anesthetic. Chloroform was used during the birth of Queen Victoria's last two children in the 1850s.

Not everyone saw this as a good thing, quoting the Bible:
To the woman he said, "I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you." Genesis 3:16
I'd like to see any man rule over ME!