Sunday June 9, 2013

Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”
Neil Gaiman, Coraline

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International Surf Music Month, endorsed by a coalition of international surf bands takes place each June. With the support of the North East Surf Music Alliance (NESMA), surf music events are planned for the month of June throughout the world. Surf music is a form of guitar-led instrumental rock music which evolved in the early 1960s. Pioneering surf musicians included bands such as Dick Dale and the Deltones, The Surfaris (of “Wipe Out” fame), and composers like Paul Johnson of The Belairs. Specialized instruments and amps focus on a reverb sound and guitar techniques that mimic the sound and feel of surfing. While taking a backseat to vocal pop music during the late 1960s and 1970s, surf music rebounded in the 1980s (sometimes called the “second wave”), and again in 1996 with the popularity of the film “Pulp Fiction” and its surf music laced soundtrack. Current surf bands continue to play the classic tunes from the 1960s and later, while composing new surf music and releasing original recordings to expand the style.

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The second week of June is National Clay Week. National Clay Week’s purpose is to bring attention to and celebrate clay and the industries dependent on this wonderful substance. It was thought up by the Uhrichsville Chamber of Commerce and other civic and labor leaders of this Ohio community back in the 1940s. National Clay Week actually started off as a one-day picnic, with rides, games, and (when the year had been financially good) fireworks. In 1950, the celebration was expanded to run the whole week, with even more great things to do.

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National Flag Week begins today. On June 14, 1777, the Second Constitutional Congress adopted a flag with thirteen stripes and thirteen stars to represent our Nation, one star for each of our founding colonies.The stars were set upon a blue field, in the words of the Congress’s resolution, “representing a new constellation” in the night sky. What was then a fledgling democracy has flourished and expanded, as we constantly strive toward a more perfect Union. Through the successes and struggles we have faced, the American flag has been ever present. It has flown on our ships and military bases around the world as we continue to defend liberty and democracy abroad. It has been raised in yards and on porches across America on days of celebration, and as a sign of our shared heritage. And it is lowered on days of remembrance to honor fallen service members and public servants; or when tragedy strikes and we join together in mourning. Our flag is the mark of one country, one people, uniting under one banner. Each year the week that contains June 14th is National Flag Week.

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This week is also National Automotive Service Professionals Week. This week is sponsored by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), which was incorporated on June 12, 1972. ASE was founded to improve the quality of automotive service through voluntary testing and certification of service professionals. The goal of this week is to recognize automotive service professionals nationwide for their contribution to keeping America’s cars and trucks running. The nonprofit organization also serves as an information source for professionals and consumers about automotive repair and related topics.

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Today is Abused Women and Children’s Awareness Day, a day to reflect on how we can help stop the violence in American that is destroying the lives and well-being of women and children. A day to prayerfully put an end to violent behavior in American homes, schools, workplaces and communities. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) reported that one in every four women will experience domestic abuse in her lifetime, with females who are 20-24 years of age at the greatest risk of abuse. But perhaps worse are the long-term effects on the children involved. 50% of men who frequently assaulted their wives also frequently abused their children. The same report revealed that even just witnessing domestic abuse is the strongest risk factor of transmitting violent behavior from one generation to the next. In particular, boys who witness domestic violence are twice as likely to abuse their own partners and children when they become adults. The Salvation Army’s battle against the seemingly endless cycles of violence against women and children began when founders Willliam and Catherine Booth started homes for those who were at risk of exploitation in London’s sex trafficking industry during the mid 19th century. These residences offered protection, respite and spiritual guidance. Domestic violence may begin with angry words, a shove, or a slap, and may escalate into a pattern of assaultive controlling behaviors including physical, sexual, and psychological attacks against the victim, children, property, and/or pets. Criminal domestic violence behaviors include hitting, choking, kicking, assault with a weapon, shoving, scratching, biting, rape, unwanted sexual touching, forcing sex with a third party, or violation of a valid Restraining Order. Degrading comments, interrogating family members, suicide threats/attempts, controlling victim’s time and activities, although not criminal, are also considered domestic violence behaviors.

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Today is Multicultural American Child Day. All children of every culture have been gifted with many talents and uniqueness. As Americans we can all benefit from the sharing of our individual cultural contributions that bring real character and greatness to a nation where all children are precious and deserve our praise. It is a time to share our many individual talents and treasures.

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Today is Donald Duck Day, or sometimes called Donald’s birthday. Donald Duck first appeared in “The Wise Hen”, a Silly Symphony cartoon, on June 9, 1934. While Donald is over 70 years old, he doesn’t act a day over 20. Donald is one of Disney’s most famous and popular characters. Did you know that Donald has a middle name? Donald F. Duck’s middle name is “Fauntleroy”. Enjoy Donald Duck Day in front of the television watching Donald, along with all of his family and friends. There was a cartoon many years ago, “Donald’s Happy Birthday”, in which Donald’s nephews (Huey, Dewey, and Louie) were sitting in their playhouse trying to decide what to get their Uncle for his birthday. On the wall was a calendar showing the date: March 13. (March 13 also appears on Donald Duck’s license plate as the number 313). So Donald’s birthday is not today, just his first appearance. “The Life Of Donald Duck” (published by Random House, 1941) does not give an birth year but does indicate that Donald Duck was born on a Friday the 13th. We know that Donald was born on a Friday, March 13 some time before 1934. And since Walt Disney wasn’t born until 1901, it’s probably safe to assume that Donald Duck was not around prior to the birth of his creator. So we merely have to figure out which years between 1901 and 1934 had a Friday the thirteenth in March. A little bit of calculation reveals that there are only five possible years in which Donald Duck could have been born: 1903, 1908, 1914, 1925, and 1931. Based on his appearance, attitude, and actions in “The Wise Hen” it is most likely that he was around 20 at that time, making his most likely date of birth March 13, 1914. Donald has appeared in more films than any other Disney character, he is listed as being in approximately 178 theatrical films compared to Mickey Mouse’s 137. Donald Duck is the fifth most published comic book character in the world after Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, and Wolverine. Today Donald is a very popular character in Europe, particularly in the Low Countries and Scandinavian countries where his weekly magazine has remained the most popular comics publication for over 50 years. Disney comics’ fandom is sometimes referred to as “Donaldism”. Donald Duck has played a major role in many Disney theme parks over the years. He has actually been seen in more attractions and shows at the parks than Mickey Mouse has. Donald is the only popular film and television cartoon character to appear as a mascot for a major American university: a licensing agreement between Disney and the University of Oregon allows the school’s sports teams to use Donald’s image as its “Fighting Duck” mascot. Donald’s name and image are used on numerous comercial products, such as Donald Duck brand orange juice, introduced in 1940. Donald Duck was temporarily listed as a “hired” employee in the database of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development as late as 1978. Given a $99,999 salary — more than double the $47,500 take federal civil servants were legally limited to be paid at the time — the name was unchallenged by a computer intended to catch government payroll fraud. Picked as one of thirty fictitious names by the Government Accounting Office, the use of it was a test to see if the payroll system of the HUD could be manipulated to defraud the government. Walt Disney had authorized Donald to be used as a mascot for the US Coast Guard. The Coast Guard image shows a fierce-looking Donald Duck dressed in a pirate‘s outfit, appearing vigilant against any potential threats to the coastal regions in the United States. In 2005, Donald received his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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Some of the writers born June 9th include:

Bertha von Suttner (1843), Jurij Brězan (1916), Eric Hobsbawm (1917), Arthur Hertzberg (1921), George Axelrod (1922), John Gillespie Magee, Jr. (1922), Keith Laumer (1925), June Jordan (1936), Charles Webb (1939), Joe Haldeman (1942), Nike Wagner (1945), Deyda Hydara (1946), John Gurda (1947), Gregory Maguire (1954), Elizabeth May (1954), George Pérez (1954), Stephen Pewsey (1955), Patricia Cornwell (1956), Steve Paikin (1960), Michael J. Fox (1961), Aaron Sorkin (1961), Gilad Atzmon (1963), Johnny Depp (1963), David Koepp (1963), Jian Ghomeshi (1967), Hayden Schlossberg (1978), Timothy Glanfield (1980), Alex Templeton-Ward (1983), and Aruni Kashyap (1984).

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We take a moment to remember Charles Dickens today on the anniversary of his passing. Born February 7, 1812, he was an English writer and social critic. He created some of the world’s most memorable fictional characters and is generally regarded as the greatest novelist of the Victorian period. During his life, his works enjoyed unprecedented fame, and by the twentieth century his literary genius was broadly acknowledged by critics and scholars. His novels and short stories continue to be widely popular. Although he had little formal education, his early impoverishment drove him to succeed. Over his career he edited a weekly journal for 20 years, wrote 15 novels, 5 novellas and hundreds of short stories and non-fiction articles, lectured and performed extensively, was an indefatigable letter writer, and campaigned vigorously for children’s rights, education, and other social reforms. His novels, most published in monthly or weekly instalments, pioneered the serial publication of narrative fiction, which became the dominant Victorian mode for novel publication. The instalment format allowed Dickens to evaluate his audience’s reaction, and he often modified his plot and character development based on such feedback. His plots were carefully constructed, and Dickens often wove in elements from topical events into his narratives. Masses of the illiterate poor chipped in ha’pennies to have each new monthly episode read to them, opening up and inspiring a new class of readers. Dickens was regarded as the literary colossus of his age. His 1843 novella, A Christmas Carol, is one of the most influential works ever written, and it remains popular and continues to inspire adaptations in every artistic genre. His creative genius has been praised by fellow writers for its realism, comedy, prose style, unique characterisations, and social critism. On the other hand Oscar Wilde, Henry James and Virginia Woolf complained of a lack of psychological depth, loose writing, and a vein of saccharine sentimentalism. Righteous anger stemming from his own situation as a child and the conditions under which working-class people lived became major themes of his works. Oliver Twist, published in 1838, became one of Dicken’s better known stories, with dialogue that transferred well to the stage (most likely because he was writing stage plays at the same time) and more importantly, it was the first Victorian novel with a child protagonist. He married Catherine Thomson Hogarth in April 1836, after a one year engagement. The first of ten children arrived in January 1837. Dombey and Son (1846-48) and David Copperfield (1849-50) mark a significant artistic break in Dickens’s career as his novels became ore series in theme and more carefully planned than his earlier works. In 1857, Dickens hired professional actresses for the play, The Frozen Deep, which he and his protégé Wilkie Collins had written. Dickens fell deeply in love with one of the actresses, Ellen Ternan. Dickens was 45 and Ternan 18 when he made the decision, which went strongly against Victorian convention, to separate from his wife, Catherine, in 1858—divorce was still unthinkable for someone as famous as he was. After separating from Catherine, Dickens undertook a series of hugely popular and remunerative reading tours which, together with his journalism, were to absorb most of his creative energies for the next decade, in which he was to write only two more novels. On June 9, 1865, while returning from Paris with Ternan, Dickens was involved in the Staplehurst rail crash. The first seven carriages of the train plunged off a cast iron bridge that was under repair. The only first-class carriage to remain on the track was the one in which Dickens was traveling. Before rescuers arrived, Dickens tended and comforted the wounded and the dying with a flask of brandy and a hat refreshed with water and saved some lives. Although physically unharmed, Dickens never really recovered from the trauma of the Staplehurst crash. On June 8, 1870, Dickens suffered another stroke at his home after a full days work on his final novel, Edwin Drood. He never regained consciousness, and the next day, on June 9th, five years to the day after the Staplehurst rail crash, he died at Gad’s Hill Place. Contrary to his wish to be buried at Rochester Cathedral “in an inexpensive, unostentatious, and strictly private manner,” he was laid to rest in the Poets’ Corner of Westminster Abbey. A printed epitaph circulated at the time of the funeral reads: “To the Memory of Charles Dickens (England’s most popular author) who died at his residence, Higham, near Rochester, Kent, 9 June 1870, aged 58 years. He was a sympathiser with the poor, the suffering, and the oppressed; and by his death, one of England’s greatest writers is lost to the world.” Dickens worked intensively on developing arresting names for his characters that would reverberate with associations for his readers, and assist the development of motifs in the storyline, giving what one critic calls an “allegorical impetus” to the novels’ meanings. David Copperfield is regarded as strongly autobiographical. Dickens may have drawn on his childhood experiences, but he was also ashamed of them and would not reveal that this was where he gathered his realistic accounts of squalor. Very few knew the details of his early life until six years after his death when John Forster published a biography on which Dickens had collaborated. Dickens works have never gone out of print, and have been adapted continually for the screen since the invention of cinema, with at least 200 motion pictures and TV adaptations based on Dickens’s works documented. His writings inspired others, in particular journalists and political figures, to address such problems of class oppression. Dickens clearly influenced later Victorian novelists such as Thomas Hardy and George Gissing. They also portray characters caught up by social forces (primarily via lower-class conditions), but they usually steered them to tragic ends beyond their control. Museums and festivals celebrating Dickens’s life and works exist in many places with which Dickens was associated. The original manuscripts of many of his novels, as well as printers’ proofs, first editions, and illustrations from the collection of Dickens’s friend John Forster are held at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Dickens’s will stipulated that no memorial be erected in his honour. The only life-size bronze statue of Dickens, cast in 1891 by Francis Edwin Elwell, can be found in Clark Park in the Spruce Hill neighbourhood of Philadelphia. Dickens was commemorated on the Series E £10 note issued by the Bank of England that was in circulation in the UK between 1992 and 2003. A theme park, Dickens World, standing in part on the site of the former naval dockyard where Dickens’s father once worked in the Navy Pay Office, opened in Chatham in 2007, and to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens in 2012, the Museum of London held the UK’s first major exhibition on the author in 40 years.

Lincolns assissins

From now until the end of the week we have the hardcover book, Lincoln’s Assassins: Their Trial and Execution by James L. Swanson and Daniel Weinberg at a very special price. This book is described by Amazon:

Acclaimed as the definitive illustrated history of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, Lincoln’s Assassins, by James L. Swanson and Daniel R. Weinberg, follows the shocking events from the tragic scene at Ford’s Theatre to the trial and execution of Booth’s co-conspirators. For twelve days after the president was shot, the nation waited breathlessly as manhunters tracked down John Wilkes Booth—the story that was brilliantly told in Swanson’s New York Times bestseller, Manhunt. Then, during the spring and summer of 1865, a military commission tried eight people as conspirators in Booth’s plot to murder Lincoln and other high officials, including the secretary of state and vice president. Few remember them today, but once the names Mary Surratt, Lewis Powell, David Herold, George Atzerodt, Edman Spangler, Samuel Arnold, Michael O’Laughlin, and Dr. Samuel Mudd were the most reviled and notorious in America.

In Lincoln’s Assassins, Swanson and Weinberg resurrect these events by presenting an unprecedented visual record of almost 300 contemporary photographs, letters, documents, prints, woodcuts, newspapers, pamphlets, books, and artifacts, many hitherto unpublished. These rare materials, which took the authors decades to collect, evoke the popular culture of the time, record the origins of the Lincoln myth, take the reader into the courtroom and the cells of the accused, document the beginning of American photojournalism, and memorialize the fates of the eight conspirators.

Lincoln’s Assassins is a unique work that will appeal to anyone interested in American history, Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War, law, crime, assassination, nineteenth-century photographic portraiture, and the history of American photojournalism.

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Disclaimer: Much of the information in this blog is taken directly from Wikipedia, Amazon, and sources linked to within the text. Images have been taken from various sources found via Goodsearch.com and Google. Village Book Shop and the blogger claim no credit for the information above.

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