Saturday, April 13, 2013

If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” 
― 
Albert Einstein

April 13th is Scrabble Day, which celebrates the popular board game. Scrabble was created in 1938 by Alfred Mosher Butts who was born April 13, 1899. It is sold by Hasbro, Inc. It’s very easy to celebrate Scrabble Day. Just get out the old board game, dust it off, and play a few rounds with family or friends. Or play it online.

Every year the second Saturday in April is celebrated as Baby Massage Day to honor the growing trend of infant massage and educate parents (and parents-to-be) about the many benefits it can offer. The stimulation offered through massage can aid a baby’s physical and cognitive development, as well as improve sleep patterns, regulate stress hormones, and increase body weight and length. Some studies have even proven that mothers who participate in regimens of infant massage may reduce their own postnatal depression. The practice of infant massage is both old and natural — it was taught in some ancient Chinese and Indian traditions and can also be witnessed in the animal kingdom through licking and grooming.

Some of the writers born April 13th include:

Roger de Rabutin, Comte de Bussy (1618), Thomas Jefferson (1743), Thomas D’Arcy McGee (1825), Joseph Lightfoot (1828), Juan Montalvo (1832), Alexander Roda Roda (1872), Nella Larsen (1891), Marguerite Henry (1902), Samuel Beckett (1906), Eudora Welty (1909), Phyllis Fraser Cerf Wagner (1916), Roland Gaucher (1919), John Braine (1922), Robert Enrico (1931), Jon Stone (1931), Pierre Rosenberg (1936), Lanford Wilson (1937), Seamus Heaney (1939), J. M. G. Le Clézio (1940), Jean-Marc Reiser (1941), Ataol Behramoğlu (1942), Drago Jančar (1948), Christopher Hitchens (1949), Dany Laferrière (1953), Colleen Clinkenbeard (1980), Anna Jennings-Edquist (1985) and Sam Loeb (1988).

Today is the 20th anniversary of the loss of Wallace Stegner. He was an American historian, novelist, short story writer and environmentalist, often called “The Dean of Western Writers”. He was an Eagle Scout. In 1934, Stegner married Mary Stuart Page. For 59 years they shared a ‘personal literary partnership of singular facility,’ in the words of Arthur Schlesinger Jr. Stegner won the Pulitzer Prize in 1972 and the U.S. National Book Award in 1977. Stegner taught at the University of Wisconsin and Harvard University. Eventually he settled at Stanford University, where he founded the creative writing program. His students included Sandra Day O’Connor, Edward Abbey, Wendell Berry, Simin Daneshvar, Andrew Glaze, George V. Higgins, Thomas McGuane, Robert Stone, Ken Kesey, Gordon Lish, Ernest Gaines, and Larry McMurtry. In the late 1980s, he refused a National Medal from the National Endowment for the Arts because he believed the NEA had become too politicized. Stegner died in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on April 13, 1993, from a car accident on March 28, 1993. His son, Page Stegner, is a novelist, essayist nature writer and professor emeritus at University of California, Santa Cruz. Page is married to Lynn Stenger, a novelist. Page co-authored “American Places” and edited the 2008 Collected Letters of Wallace Stegner.

Gov. Jon Huntsman’s declaration of February 18, 2009 as Wallace Stegner Day highlighted Stegner as “one of Utah‘s most prominent citizens…a legendary voice for Utah and the West as an author, educator, and conservationist…[who was] raised and educated in Salt Lake City and [at] the University of Utah, [and] possess[ed] a lifelong love of Utah’s landscapes, people, and culture.” In recognition of Stegner’s legacy at the University of Utah, The Wallace Stegner Prize in Environmental or American Western History was established in 2010 and is administered by the University of Utah Press. This book publication prize is awarded to the best monograph the Press receives on the topic of American western or environmental history within a predetermined time period.

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Four hundred years ago today Samuel Argall captured Native American princess Pocahontas in Passapatanzy, Virginia to ransom her for some English prisoners held by her father. She was brought to Henricus as hostage.

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On this day in 1776 American forces in the American Revolutionary War were surprised in the Battle of Bound Brook, New Jersey.

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The first elephant ever seen in the United States arrived from India on April 13, 1796.

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On this day in 1829 the Roman Catholic Relief Act 1829 gave Roman Catholics in the United Kingdom the right to vote and to sit in Parliament.

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The New York City Metropolitan Museum of Art was founded April 13, 1870.

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The Colfax Massacre or Colfax Riot occurred on Easter Sunday, April 13, 1873, in Colfax, Louisiana, the seat of Grant Parish. In the wake of a contested election for governor of Louisiana and local offices, an armed group of whites, armed with rifles and a small cannon, overpowered freedmen and state militia (also black) trying to control the Grant Parish courthouse in Colfax. White Republican officeholders were not attacked. Most of the freedmen were killed after they surrendered, and nearly 50 were killed later that night after being held as prisoners for several hours. Estimations of the number of dead have varied, other estimates are closer to 150. The attack had the most fatalities of violent events following the disputed contest in 1872 between Republicans and Democrats for the Louisiana governor’s office, in which both candidates claimed victory (in fact, “every election [in Louisiana] between 1868 and 1876 was marked by rampant violence and pervasive fraud.”). In the late 20th and early 21st century, there has been increasing attention given to the events at Colfax and the Supreme Court case, and their meaning in American history.

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James C. Penney opened his first store in Kemmerer, Wyoming on this day in 1902.

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Eugene V. Debs was imprisoned at the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary in Atlanta, Georgia, on April 13, 1919, for speaking out against the draft during World War I.

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The Jefferson Memorial was dedicated on this day in 1943 in Washington, D.C., on the 200th anniversary of Thomas Jefferson’s birth.

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The Hadassah medical convoy massacre was seventy years ago today. In an ambush, 79 Jewish doctors, nurses and medical students from Hadassah Hospital and a British soldier were massacred by Arabs in Sheikh Jarra near Jerusalem.

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Sixty years ago today the CIA director Allen Dulles launched the mind-control program MKULTRA.

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On April 13, 1958, during the Cold War, American Van Cliburn won the inaugural International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. The International Tchaikovsky Competition is a classical-music competition held every four years in Moscow, Russia, for pianists, violinists, and cellists between 16 and 30 years of age, and singers between 19 and 32 years of age. The competition is named after Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and is an active member of the World Federation of International Music Competitions.

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The United States launched Transit 1-B, the world’s first satellite navigation system, on April 13, 1960.

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At the Academy Awards on April 13, 1964, Sidney Poitier became the first African-American male to win the Best Actor award for the 1963 film Lilies of the Field.

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An oxygen tank aboard Apollo 13 exploded on April 13, 1970, putting the crew in great danger and causing major damage to the spacecraft while en route to the Moon.

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The Universal Postal Union decided on this day in 1972 to recognize the People’s Republic of China as the only legitimate Chinese representative, effectively expelling the Republic of China administering Taiwan.

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Western Union, in cooperation with NASA and Hughes Aircraft, launched the United States’ first commercial geosynchronous communications satellite, Westar 1, on April 13, 1974.

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The United States Treasury Department reintroduced the two-dollar bill as a Federal Reserve Note on this day in 1976, Thomas Jefferson’s 233rd birthday, as part of the United States Bicentennial celebration.

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The Chicago flood occurred on April 13, 1992, when the damaged wall of a utility tunnel beneath the Chicago River opened into a breach which flooded basements and underground facilities throughout the Chicago Loop with an estimated 250 million US gallons (950,000 m3) of water. Rehabilitation work on the Kinzie Street Bridge crossing the Chicago River required new pilings. Unbeknownst to work crews aboard a barge operated by the Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company, beneath the river was an abandoned Chicago Tunnel Company tunnel that had been used in the early 20th century to transport coal and goods. One of the pilings on the east bank was driven into the bottom of the river alongside the north wall of the old tunnel. Although the piling did not actually punch through the tunnel wall, it caused pressure that cracked the wall, and mud began to ooze in. After some weeks, all the soft mud had passed, opening a leak. The situation was very serious because the flood doors had been removed from the old tunnels after they fell into disuse. The mud continued to push through until the river water was able to pour in unabated, creating an unmistakable emergency. The water flooded into the basements of several Loop office buildings and retail stores and an underground shopping district. The city quickly evacuated the Loop and financial district in fear that electrical wires could short out. Electrical power and natural gas went down or were shut off as a precaution in much of the area. Trading at both the Chicago Board of Trade Building and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange ended in mid-morning, having a global effect, as water seeped into their basements. At its height, some buildings had 40 feet of water in their lower levels. However, at the street level there was no water to be seen, as it was all underground. At first, the source of the water was unclear. The leak was eventually stopped by Kenny Construction, a private contracting company, by drilling shafts into the flooded tunnel near Kinzie Street and placing emergency plugs in it. It took three days before the flood was cleaned up enough to allow business to begin to resume and cost the city an estimated $1.95 billion. Some buildings remained closed for a few weeks. Parking was banned downtown during the cleanup and some subway routes were temporarily closed or rerouted. Since it occurred near Tax Day, the IRS granted natural disaster extensions to those affected. Eventually, the city assumed maintenance responsibility for the tunnels, and watertight hatches were installed at the river crossings. Insurance battles lasted for years, the central point being the definition of the accident, i.e., whether it was a “flood” or a “leak.” Leaks were covered by insurance, while floods were not. Eventually it was classified as a leak, which is why many residents still call it the “Great Chicago Leak.” Today, there remains contention as to whether the mistake was the fault of the workers on-site, their parent company, or even the claim that maps provided by the city of Chicago failed to accurately depict the old tunnel systems.


Tiger Woods became the youngest golfer to win the Masters Tournament on April 13, 1997.

wide sargasso sea

Today we highlight Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys. We have New copies of this paperback in stock. Amazon gives the following description:

Jean Rhys’s reputation was made upon the publication of this passionate and heartbreaking novel, in which she brings into the light one of fiction’s most mysterious characters: the madwoman in the attic from Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre.A sensual and protected young woman, Antoinette Cosway grows up in the lush natural world of the Caribbean. She is sold into marriage to the coldhearted and prideful Rochester, who succumbs to his need for money and his lust. Yet he will make her pay for her ancestors’ sins of slaveholding, excessive drinking, and nihilistic despair by enslaving her as a prisoner in his bleak English home. In this best-selling novel Rhys portrays a society so driven by hatred, so skewed in its sexual relations, that it can literally drive a woman out of her mind.

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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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