Sunday, March 24, 2013

“Only the very weak-minded refuse to be influenced by literature and poetry.”
― Cassandra ClareClockwork Angel

Today we have a longer than usual post for you.

In many European implementations of the Julian calendar, March 24th is the 365th and last day of the year.

Today is National Chocolate Covered Raisin Day, a day to enjoy this tasty combination of chocolate and fruit. This isn’t great for the waist line but here’s this blogger’s “logic”: Chocolate is made from cocoa beans which are a vegetable. Rains are from grapes, which are a fruit. Vegetables and fruits are good for us. Does this not make chocolate covered raisins good for us? Even if their not “healthy” they are good for the soul.

Robert Koch announced the discovery of mycobacterium tuberculosis on this day in 1882. This is the bacterium responsible for tuberculosis. March 24, 2013 is World TB Day. This is an opportunity to raise awareness about the burden of tuberculosis (TB) worldwide and the status of TB prevention and control efforts. Worldwide TB mortality rate has fallen over 40% in the last twenty-three years. Incidence of the disease is declining thanks to new tools like rapid diagnostics. The global burden, however, is still huge. There were about 8.7 million new cases of TB in 2011, and 1.4 million deaths from it. Poor communities and vulnerable groups are most affected but this is an airborne disease that is a risk to everyone. For women in the 15-44 age group, this disease is among the top three causes of death. This year is the second year of a two-year campaign for World TB Day, with the slogan “Stop TB in My Lifetime.” The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Stop TB Partnership, hosted at WHO, are together promoting World TB Day. World TB Day provides the opportunity for affected persons and the communities in which they live, civil society organizations, health-care providers, and other partners to discuss and plan further collaboration to fulfill the promise of stopping TB in our lifetimes through advocacy and action.

Easter Sunday is one week away. That means today is Palm Sunday. Palm Sunday is a Christian moveable feast that falls on the Sunday before Easter. The feast commemorates Jesus‘ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in all four canonical Gospels. In many Christian churches, Palm Sunday is marked by the distribution of palm leaves (often tied into crosses) to the assembled worshipers. The difficulty of procuring palms for that day’s ceremonies in unfavorable climates for palms led to the substitution of boughs of box, yew, willow, olive, or other native trees. The Sunday was often designated by the names of these trees, as Yew Sunday, or by the general term Branch Sunday. The palm branch is a symbol of victory, triumph, peace and eternal life originating in the ancient Near East and Mediterranean world.

March 24-30, 2013 is Tsunami Awareness Week. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:

Schools, playgrounds, hospitals, factories and homes are often built in areas vulnerable to tsunamis. The TsunamiReady Program, developed by the National Weather Service, is designed to help cities, towns, counties, universities and other large sites in coastal areas reduce the potential for disastrous tsunami-related consequences.

Since June 20, 2001, TsunamiReady has helped community leaders and emergency managers strengthen their local operations. TsunamiReady communities are better prepared to save lives through better planning, education and awareness. Communities have fewer fatalities and property damage if they plan before a tsunami arrives. No community is tsunami proof, but TsunamiReady can help minimize loss to your community. Find out what’s involved in becoming TsunamiReady.


We are now at the last week of March, which means that it is National Cleaning Week. This observation serves as a great reminder for you to organize, clean and prep your home for the changing of the seasons.

Some of the writers born March 24th include:

Arai Hakuseki (1657), Muthuswami Dikshitar (1775), Mariano José de Larra (1809), Robert Hamerling (1830), William Morris (1834), Honoré Beaugrand (1848), Silas Hocking (1850), Olive Schreiner (1855), Émile Fabre (1869), Malcolm Muggeridge (1903), Pura Santillan-Castrence (1905), Donald Hamilton (1916), Lawrence Ferlinghetti (1919), Michael Legat (1923), Vincent Cronin (1924), Dario Fo (1926), Martin Walser (1927), Peter Bichsel (1935), Tabitha Spruce (1949), and Star Jones (1962).

Harry Houdini was born on March 24, 1874 in Budapest, Austria-Hungary, as Erik Weisz. He was an American stunt performer, noted for his sensational escape acts. He was one of seven children. Harry, his pregnant mother, and his four brothers arrived in the U.S, in 1878. The family changed the Hungarian spelling of their German surname to Weiss (the German spelling) and Erik’s name was changed to Ehrich. Friends called him “Ehrie” or “Harry”. They first lived in Wisconsin, where his father served as Rabbi of the Zion Reform Jewish Congregation. In 1897 Erich and his Rabbi father moved to New York City where they lived in a boarding house. They were joined by the rest of the family once Rabbi Weiss found permanent housing.

As a child, Ehrich Weiss took several jobs, making his public début as a 9-year-old trapeze artist, calling himself “Ehrich, the Prince of the Air”. Weiss became a professional magician and began calling himself “Harry Houdini” because he was heavily influenced by the French magician Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin, and his friend Jack Hayman told him, erroneously, that in French, adding an “i” to Houdin would mean “like Houdin”, the great magician. In later life, Houdini would claim that the first part of his new name, Harry, was an homage to Harry Kellar, whom Houdini admired.

The United States Postal Service issued a postage stamp with a replica of Houdini’s favorite publicity poster on July 3, 2002. In August of 2007 the Independent Investigative Group (IIG) awarded Houdini a posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award. This honor has also been awarded to Carl Sagan and James Randi. Houdini’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame was restored and rededicated in a ceremony attended by many notables from the world of magic and movies in 2008. Google featured a special Houdini “Doodle” logo to commemorate his 137th birthday on March 24, 2011. The Harry Houdini “Google doodle” was the first of its kind to appear. Houdini appears as himself in Eio Books Houdini Heart, a 2011 novel of fantasy and horror by Ki Longfellow.

Ub Iwerks was born March 24, 1901 as Ubbe Eert Iwerks. He was a two-time Academy Award winning American animator, cartoonist, character designer, inventor, and special effects technician who created Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and Mickey Mouse with Walt Disney. His father was an emigrant from northwest Germany. Ub’s birth name can be seen on early “Alice” shorts that he signed. Several years later he simplified his name to “Ub Iwerks”, sometimes written as “U. B. Iwerks”. He is the father of Disney Legend Don Iwerks and David L. Iwerks and grandfather to documentary film producer Leslie Iwerks, Chris, Larry, John, and Kathie Iwerks. Ub Iwerks was considered by many to be Walt Disney’s oldest friend, and spent most of his career with Disney. The two met in 1919 while working for the Pesmen-Rubin Art Studio in Kansas City, and would eventually start their own commercial art business together. Disney and Iwerks then found work as illustrators for the Kansas City Slide Newspaper Company (which would later be named The Kansas City Film Ad Company). While working for the Kansas City Film Ad Company, Disney decided to take up work in animation, and Iwerks soon joined him. He was responsible for the distinctive style of the earliest Disney animated cartoons. In 1922, when Walt began his Laugh-O-Gram cartoon series, Iwerks joined him as chief animator. The studio went bankrupt, however, and in 1923 Iwerks followed Disney’s move to Los Angeles to work on a new series of cartoons known as “the Alice Comedies” which had live action mixed with animation. After the end of this series, Disney asked Iwerks to come up with a new character. The first Oswald the Lucky Rabbit was animated entirely by Ub Iwerks. Following the first cartoon, Oswald was redesigned on the insistence of Universal, who agreed to distribute the new series of cartoons in 1927. In the spring of 1928, Disney lost control of the Oswald character, and much of his staff was hired away; Disney left Universal soon afterwards, promising never to work with a character he did not own ever again. Disney asked Ub Iwerks, who stayed on, to start drawing up new character ideas. Iwerks tried sketches of frogs, dogs, and cats, but none of these appealed to Disney. A female cow and male horse were created at this time by Iwerks, but were also rejected. They would later turn up as Clarabelle Cow and Horace Horsecollar. Ub Iwerks eventually got inspiration from an old drawing. Hugh Harman drew some skethes of mice in 1925 around a photograph of Walt Disney. These inspired Ub Iwerks to create a new mouse character for Disney, eventually called Mickey Mouse. The first few Mickey Mouse and Silly Symphonies cartoons were animated almost entirely by Iwerks. However, as Iwerks began to draw more and more cartoons on a daily basis, he soon found himself unable to cope under Disney’s harsh command; Iwerks also felt he wasn’t getting the credit he deserved for drawing all of Walt’s successful cartoons. Eventually, Iwerks and Disney had a falling out; their friendship and working partnership were severed when Iwerks accepted a contract with Disney competitor Pat Powers to leave Disney and start an animation studio under his own name. The Iwerks Studio opened in 1930. Financial backers led by Pat Powers suspected that Iwerks was responsible for much of Disney’s early success. However, while animation for a time suffered at Disney from Iwerks’ departure, it soon rebounded as Disney brought in talented new young animators. Despite a contract with MGM to distribute his cartoons, and the introduction of a new character named “Flip the Frog”, and later “Willie Whopper”, the Iwerks Studio was never a major commercial success and failed to rival either Disney or Fleischer Studios. From 1933 to 1936 he produced a series of shorts (independently distributed, not part of the MGM deal) in Cinecolor, named ComiColor Cartoons. The ComiColor series included Little Black Sambo, a racially stereotyped work that was eventually banned in the United States. In 1936 backers withdrew financial support from the Iwerks Studio, and it folded soon after. In 1937 Iwerks was contracted to produce four Loony Tunes shorts starring Porky Pig and Gabby Goat. Iwerks then did contract work for Screen Gems (then Columbia Pictures’ cartoon division) before returning to work for Disney in 1940. The cartoons created by Iwerks’ own studio remained largely unseen for many decades, but have been released to DVD by several companies. After his return to the Disney studio, Iwerks mainly worked on developing special visual effects. He is credited as developing the processes for combining live action and animation usedf in Song of the South (1946), as well as the xerographic process adapted for cel animation. He also worked at WED Enterprises, now Walt Disney Imagineering, helping to develop many Disney theme park attractions during the 1960s. Iwerks did special effects work outside the studio as well, including his Academy Award nominated achievement for Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds (1963). Iwerks’ most famous work outside creating and animating Mickey Mousewas Flip the Frogfrom his own studio. Iwerks was known for his fast work at drawing and animation and his wacky sense of humor. Animator Chuck Jones, who worked for Iwerks’ studio in his youth, said “Iwerks is Screwy spelled backwards.” Ub Iwerks died July 7, 1971 of a myocardial infarction in Burbank, California at age 70. A documentary film, The Hand Behind the Mouse: The Ub Iwerks Story was released in 1999, followed by a book written by Leslie Iwerks and John Kenworthy in 2001. The documentary, created by Iwerks’ granddaughter Leslie Iwerks, was released as part of The Walt Disney Treasures, Wave VII series (disc two of The Adventures of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit collection). After World War Two, much of Iwerks’ early animation style was imitated by legendary manga artists Osamu Tezuka and Shōtarō Ishinomori. Iwerks Entertainment, a filmographic company, was founded in 1985 in honor of Ub Iwerks. In 1989, Iwerks was named a Disney Legend.

Joseph Roland “Joe” Barbera was born March 24, 1911. He was an influential American animator, director, producer, storyboard artist, and cartoon artist, whose film and television cartoon characters entertained millions of fans wordlwide for much of the twentieth century. Through his young adult years, Barbera lived, attended college, and began his career in New York City. After working odd jobs and as a banker, Barbera joined Van Beuren Studios in 1932 and subsequently Terrytoons in 1936. In 1937, he moved to California and while working at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), Barbera met William Hanna. The two men began a collaboration that was at first best known for producing Tom and Jerry and live action films. In 1957, after MGM dissolved their animation department, they co-founded Hanna-Barbera, which became the most successful television animation studio in the business, producing programs such as The Flintstones, The Huckleberry Hound Show, Top Cat, Scooby-Doo, The Quick Draw McGraw Show,Yogi Bear, The Smurfs,Wacky Races, and The Jetsons. In 1967, Hanna-Barbera was sold to Taft Broadcasting for $12 million, but Hanna and Barbera remained head of the company until 1991. At that time, the studio was sold to Turner Broadcasting System, which in turn was merged with Time Warner, owners of Warner Bros., in 1996; Hanna and Barbera stayed on as advisers. Hanna and Barbera won seven Academy Awards and eight Emmy Awards. Their cartoon shows have become cultural icons, and their cartoon characters have appeared in other media such as films, books, and toys. Hanna-Barbera’s shows had a worldwide audience of over 300 million people in the 1960s and have been translated into more than 20 languages. Barbera died at the age of 95 at his home from natural causes in Studio City, Los Angeles on December 18, 2006, ending a seventy-year career in animation. His wife Sheila was at his side at the end; he was also survived by three children from his first marriage: Jayne (who worked for Hanna–Barbera), Lynn, and Neal. He is buried in a private section of the Great Mausoleum in Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale. The animated films Chill Out, Scooby-Doo! And Tom and Jerry: A Nutcracker Tale and The Karate Guard were dedicated to him. In 1992, Barbera met with pop musician Michael Jackson, an avid cartoon fan, in an unsuccessful attempt to arrange for him to sing in Tom and Jerry: The Movie. Barbera drew five quick sketches of Tom and Jerry for Jackson and autographed them. Jackson autographed a picture of himself and his niece Nicole for Barbera with the words: “To my hero of yesterday, today, and tomorrow, with many thanks for all the many cartoon friends you gave me as a child. They were all I had.—Michael”

Thomas Jacob Hilfiger celebrates his 62nd birthday today. He is an American fashion designer and founder of the lifestyle brand Tommy Hilfiger Corporation.

The actor Jim Parsons celebrates his 40th birthday today. He is best known for playing Sheldon Cooper on the CBS sitcome The Big Bang Theory, with his performace often cited as a significant reason for the program’s success. He has received several awards for his performance, including the Television Critics Association award for the highest individual achievements in comedy, the National Association of BroadcastersTelevision Chairman’s Award for a significant breakthrough in a specific art discipline, two consecutive Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series and the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Television Series Musical or Comedy.

Today we remember Henry Wadsworth Longfellow who passed away on this day in 1882 at the age of 75. He was an American poet and educator whos works include “Paul Revere’s Ride”, The Song of Hiawatha, and Evangeline. He was also the first American to translate Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy and was one of the fiveFireside Poets. Longfellow wrote predominantly lyric poems, known for their musicality and often presenting stories of mythology and legend. He became the most popular American poet of his day and also had success overseas. He has been criticized, however, for imitating European styles and writing specifically for the masses.

Today also marks the anniversary of the passing of Jules Verne. It was on this day in 1905 when the French author who pioneered the science fiction genre died at the age of 77 while ill from diabietes. He is best known for his novels Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870), Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864), From the Earth to the Moon (1865), and Around the World in Eighty Days (1873). Many of his novels involve elements of technology that were fantastic for the day but later became commonplace. Verne is the second most translated author in the world (following Dame Agatha Christie). Some of his books have been made into live-action and animated films and television shows. Verne is often referred to as the “Father of Science Fiction”, a title sometimes shared with Hugo Gernsback and H. G. Wells.

John Hersey passed away twenty years ago today at the age of 78. The Pulizer Prize-winning American writer and journalist considered one of the earliest practitioners of the so-called New Journalism, in which storytelling techniques of fiction are addapted to non-fiction reportage. Hersey’s account of the aftermath of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, was adjudged the finest piece of journalism of the 20th century by a 36-member panel associated with New York University’s journalism department.

The Acts of Union 1707 was signed on March 24, 1707. It officially united the Kingdoms of England and Scotland to create the Kingdom of Great Britain.

In the American Revolutionary War, the Kingdom of Great Britain passed the Quartering Act on March 24, 1765 that required the Thirteen Colonies to house British troops.

On this day in 1929, as part of Catholic Emancipation, the Parliament of the United Kingdom passed the Roman Catholic Relief Act 1829. This allowed Catholics to serve in Parliament.

In Hiram, Ohio, a group of men beat, tarred and feathered Mormon leader Joseph Smith, Jr. on March 24, 1832.

Canada gave African Canadian en the right to vote on March 24, 1837.

The Assassination of Japanese Chief Minister (Tairō) Ii Naosuke occurred on March 24, 1860 and became known as Sakuradamon incident (1860).

The last of Titokowaru’s forces surrendered to the New Zealand government on this day in 1869 which ended his uprising.

The British frigate HMS Eurydice sank on March 24, 1878. More than 300 were killed.

A.S. Popov made the first radio signal transmission in history on this day in 1896.

On March 24, 1900, Mayor of New York City Robert Anderson Van Wyck broke ground for a new undergroundRapid Transit Railroad” that would link Manhattan and Brooklyn.

The first issue of the Georgian Bolshevik newspaper, Dro, was published on March 24, 1907.

As part of the Irish War of Independence, in Belfast, Northern Irish policemen broke into the home of a Catholic family and shot all eight males inside on this day in 1922.

Greece became a republic on ninety years ago today.

In what became known as the Nanjing Incident, on March 24, 1927, foreign warships bombarded Nanjing, China, in defense of the foreign citizens within the city.

U.S. Congress passed the Tydings-McDuffie Act on March 24, 1934 which allowed the Philippines to become a self-governing commonwealth.

On March 24, 1944, German troops killed 335 Italian civilians in Rome in what is called the Ardeatine Massacre. That same day, as part of WWII, in an event later dramatized in the movie The Great Escape, 76 prisoners began breaking out of Stalag Luft III.

Elvis Presley was drafted in the U.S. Army on March 24, 1958.

NASA spacecraft Ranger 9, equipped to convert its signals into a form suitable for showing on domestic television, brought images of the Moon into ordinary homes on March 24, 1965 before crash landing.

The United Kingdom imposed direct rule over Northern Ireland on March 24, 1972.

Kenyan athlete Kip Keino defeated Jim Ryun forty years ago today, at the first-ever professional track meet in Los Angeles, California.

In Argentina, the armed forces overthrew the constitutional government of President Isabel Perón on this day in 1976 and started a 7-year dictatorial period self-styled the National Reorganization Process. Since 2006, a public holiday known as Day of Remembrance for Truth and Justice is held on this day.

The Loscoe gas explosion on this day in 1986 led to new UK laws on landfill gas migration and gas protection on landfill sites.

The Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred March 24, 1989. In Prince William Sound in Alaska, 240,000 barrels of petroleum were spilled after the Exxon Valdez ran aground.

Comet Shoemaker-Levy was discovered twenty years ago today.

On March 24, 1998 the Jonesboro massacre happened. Eleven year old Mitchell Johnson and thirteen year old Andrew Golden fired upon teachers and students at Westside Middle School in Jonesboro, Arkansas. Five people were killed and ten were wounded.

A tornado swept through Dantan in India on March 24, 1998. 250 people were killed and 3000 others were injured.

On this day in 2000 the S&P 500 index reached an intraday high of 1,552.87, a peak that, due to the collapse of the dot-com bubble, it would not reach again for another seven-and-a-half years.

Ten years ago today the Arab League voted 21-1 in favor of a resolution demanding the immediate and unconditional removal of U.S. and British soldiers from Iraq.


Today we bring you the novel Swamplandia! by Karen Russell. We have new copies in stock of this paperback.  One of Village Book Shop’s book clubs read this book and more copies were ordered than needed. Amazon gives the following description:

New York Times Best Book of the Year
One of Granta’s Best Young American Novelists
Selected for the New Yorker’s 20 Under 40
Nominated for the Orange Prize 

Thirteen-year-old Ava Bigtree has lived her entire life at Swamplandia!, her family’s island home and gator-wrestling theme park in the Florida Everglades. But when illness fells Ava’s mother, the park’s indomitable headliner, the family is plunged into chaos; her father withdraws, her sister falls in love with a spooky character known as the Dredgeman, and her brilliant big brother, Kiwi, defects to a rival park called The World of Darkness. As Ava sets out on a mission through the magical swamps to save them all, we are drawn into a lush and bravely imagined debut that takes us to the shimmering edge of reality.


Disclaimer: Much of the information in this blog is taken directly from Wikipedia and Amazon.   Images have been taken from various sources around the World Wide Web.


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