31 May 2007

Buying The Elephant

Once upon a time I bought an elephant. Now it was with the help of virtually every child living in Fresno County in California, but she was my elephant because we were both five years of age and besides I wanted her to be my elephant. We all voted and gave her the name of "Nosey". Not exactly original, but what do you expect from first graders who just wanted an elephant for a pet. She went to live at Roeding Park, one of the few totally green places in Fresno. It was much easier to keep her there than in the garage as I suggested at the time, but at least I got to visit her regularly.

Over the years I would make a point of calling on Nosey whenever I came to Fresno. In 1965, I brought my children to visit my elephant and in the 1980s my first grandchild went as well. Nosey knew how much everyone loved her. She was just a natural star and queen of the zoo even when she had been joined by other elephants. It was her presence that made the growth of a small local zoo into a modern scientific facility.

In 1993, the terrible news came down. Nosey had cancer. Her keepers kept her as comfortable as possible, but the time when they could no longer do so was quickly approaching so her birthday party was held a little early that year. It was an unusual day. There were people in their 60s, 50s, 40s, 30s, 20s, teens, and infants in arms. They had all come to say goodbye to "their" elephant. She was a gracious matriarch of a whole city not just a herd.

Every once in a while you would see an adult brush away a tear while holding a child to see Nosey dining on her "birthday cake" of fruit frozen in ice. Shortly after the party, my elephant left as peacefully as she had arrived, her importance marked by the front page headline. The city had lost an icon that had to be immortalized in some fashion.

If you go to the zoo that Nosey built now called Chaffee Zoo, walk over to the elephant enclosure. In front of it is a statue of my elephant. There are always a few children around it petting the pachyderm. Nosey is still doing her job, attracting young children to the wonders of animals and a love of nature.

Moral of the story: If you ever get a chance, buy an elephant.

30 May 2007

Gertrude Bell

George Santayana: Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Anyone who is interested in how Iraq became Iraq might like to pick up a new book that sheds light on the creation of the country as well as providing a biography of a fascinating woman: Gertrude Bell

Gertrude Bell: Queen of the Desert, Shaper of Nations
by Georgina Howell

An excellent review of the book written by Christopher Hitchens appears in this month's Atlantic Monthly:

The Woman Who Made Iraq
A Review by Christopher Hitchens

To give you a feel for this review, it opens with:

"On the cover of this book is an arresting photograph taken in front of the Sphinx in March 1921, on the last day of the Cairo conference on the Middle East. It shows Gertrude Bell astride a camel, flanked by Winston Churchill and T. E. Lawrence. She wears a look of some assurance and satisfaction, perhaps because -- apart from having spent far more time on camelback than either man -- she has just assisted at the birth of a new country, which is to be called Iraq."

The British thought that Sunnis should lead the Iraqi nation, because the Shi'ite majority was regarded as too volatile to govern due to its largely tribal and nomadic base in Iraq, and hard to assimilate because of an unyielding religious bias for the "Ali" faction of the Muslim schism.

Bell said, "I don't for a moment doubt that the final authority must be in the hands of the Sunnis, in spite of their numerical inferiority, otherwise you will have a ... Theocratic state, which is the very devil."

Follow Up

Nathaniel Hawthorne
Born: July 4, 1804 Salem, Massachusetts

Died: May 19, 1864 Plymouth, New Hampshire

My Manic Monday was a cautionary tale for all those Little Red Riding Hoods out walking paths that might put them in contact with Big Bad Wolves. Unfortunately, most of us simply never ever listen and wolves can be so very charming.

The end result is being praised by Professor Harold Hill ... well worse things could happen.

The key line is "I hope and I pray for a Hester to win one more A" which is a reference to Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter".

Hawthorne often dealt with the subjects of good, evil, retribution and justice and as a result is often viewed as a puritanical moralist, yet he was respected in his own time by equally brilliant authors

Hawthorne enjoyed a brief but intense friendship with Herman Melville. When the two authors met at a picnic hosted by a mutual friend, Melville had just read Hawthorne's short story collection "Mosses from an Old Manse", which Melville later praised in a famous review, "Hawthorne and His Mosses." Melville's letters to Hawthorne provide insight into the composition of Moby-Dick, which Melville dedicated to Hawthorne "in appreciation for his genius". Hawthorne's letters to Melville do not survive.

Edgar Allan Poe wrote important, though largely unflattering reviews of both Twice-Told Tales and Mosses from an Old Manse, mostly due to Poe's own contempt of allegory, moral tales, and his chronic accusations of plagiarism. However, even Poe admitted, "The style of Hawthorne is purity itself. His tone is singularly effective--wild, plaintive, thoughtful, and in full accordance with his themes." He concluded that, "we look upon him as one of the few men of indisputable genius to whom our country has as yet given birth.

27 May 2007

Woodland Adventures In Red

Sam The Sham did his version of Little Red Riding Hood and then Steven Sondheim came along in Into the Woods and did his. Both gentlemen warned girls of taking advantage of interesting invitations.

And the natural conclusion of what happens when little girls in red are tempted to enter the woods by big bad wolves.

- I Know Things Now Lyrics

Found It!!! The I Know Things Now clip

Mother said,
"Straight ahead,"
Not to delay
or be misled.
I should have heeded
Her advice...
But he seemed so nice.

And he showed me things
Many beautiful things,
That I hadn't thought to explore.
They were off my path,
So I never had dared.
I had been so careful,
I never had cared.
And he made me feel excited-
Well, excited and scared.

And I know things now,
Many valuable things,
That I hadn't known before:
Do not put your faith
In a cape and a hood,
They will not protect you
The way that they should.
And take extra care with strangers,
Even flowers have their dangers.
And though scary is exciting,
Nice is different than good.

Now I know:
Don't be scared.
Granny is right,
Just be prepared.

Isn't it nice to know a lot!
And a little bit not...

Welcome To Iraq

A ragged urchin, aimless and alone,
Loitered about that vacancy, a bird
Flew up to safety from his well-aimed stone'
That girls are raped, that
two boys knife a third,
Were axioms to him who'd never heard
Of any world where promises were kept
Or one could weep because another wept.

W. H. Auden

Save the Children reported this month that Iraq’s child-survival rate is falling faster than any other nation’s. One Iraqi in eight is killed by illness or violence by the age of 5. Yet for all the words President Bush has lavished on Darfur and AIDS in Africa, there has been a deadly silence from him about what’s happening in the country he gave “God’s gift of freedom.”

26 May 2007

Memorial Weekend

Many of the "Greatest Generation" have passed away, but the one who was and always will be "My Hero" turned 93 just two days ago. Here is his autobiography. Please note how lightly he touches on where he was during WWII. I've inserted links for those curious about what was going on around him while he was "tinkering". He wrote this bio when he was working on the NASA Wright Flyer Project

Meet Donald Dotson


My Youth

I was born in Highland Park, Michigan on May 24, 1914. When I was a youngster, I developed a fascination with radio. It amazed me how anyone could get sound out of the air! I built my first crystal set when I was 8 years old. My curiosity continued to the point that I earned my Amateur Radio License, W6FWT, while in high school. In 1933, I graduated from Belmont High School, located in Los Angeles, CA. Just out of high school, the intrigue of radio led me to a company called Patterson Radio. I worked on the production line, putting components together for shipping to a company called Gilfillan Radio Manufacturing Company, who was licensed at that time to build radios. I was sent to Gilfillan Radio to run the production line. I was later sent to a company called Pierson DeLane who manufactured police radios from equipment built by Patterson and Gilfillan. I was the Chief Tester, and ran the line for Pierson DeLane.

I always wondered what made things work, and I "tinkered" with many different things. I enjoyed repairing and riding motorcycles, and making things better. Creating, inventing, improving has piqued my interest and radio has always been at the center of my interests. I tried many different things during my early years out of high school, from radio to commercial fishing.

My Career

In January of 1941, I joined the National Guard and was inducted into Federal Service in March of that same year. Now a member of the United States Army, my assignment was as a Medic. Due to a change in my Division, I was left in limbo. I learned of an opening in Radar Maintenance and volunteered. I was assigned to the Coast Artillery Searchlight Company as a Radar Maintenance Specialist. I served as a Radar Tech Sergeant in North Africa and Italy during World War II. In Italy, I was transferred to the Air Corps to set up and operate a ground controlled bombing range for radar equipped bombers.

I received an Honorable Discharge from the Army at Fort MacArthur, California in 1945, and began a career as an Instrumentation Technician for AiResearch Manufacturing Company in January, 1946. I spent approximately 20 years working for AiResearch on three different tours. I worked in Electronics, Flight Instruments, Ground Support and Total Energy (on-site power generation). My first departure from AiResearch was to work for Hughes Aircraft designing test panels for the Falcon Missile series. I returned to AiResearch to work on flight instruments specializing in Cabin Pressure Controls. My second departure from AiResearch was to design a machine for producing precision cams for use in air data computers. As has been the thread of my career, I enjoy challenges that involve new and different ideas.

I went to the University of California, Los Angeles ( UCLA) and became involved in the designing and construction of the cooling system for the Cyclotron they were building. UCLA was in need of this technology as they were advancing in the field of accelerating particles for research.

In both instances, after having left AiResearch, I was enticed to return to AiResearch by different department heads. One department head for Flight Instruments and the other for Commercial Aircraft Ground Support. AiResearch gas turbines were used to supply compressed air and 400 cycles-per-second power to support the aircraft on the ground at the terminal and to start the jet engines. They wanted my expertise, and knew I could not resist a challenge! I returned and was responsible for the design of packaging of the turbines and associated equipment into vehicles as specified by the airlines. The expansion of this program put AiResearch into the field of "Total Energy Systems." Total energy is the concept of on-site power generation, the utilization of heat generated for processing or air conditioning.

In 1965, with some associates from AiResearch, a Total Energy Systems Company was formed. I spent a few years designing power generation systems for on-site companies for Total Energy Systems. This company allowed greater latitude of equipment to be used for power generation. This company dissolved in 1972.

I then went to work for Monogram Industries - designing toilets for boats and/or trains! This project led to the idea of developing a sewer-less house in areas around lakes, etc. After a couple of years at Monogram Industries, I became owner/manager of two apartment buildings. During this time, I worked as a consultant to Monogram Industries as well as performing maintenance for my properties.

My Hobbies

As in my youth, I continue to "tinker" and think of new ideas to make things better. Upon retirement, I continued to design personal projects of interest, which eventually lead to my ultimate contact with the Wright Flyer Project. Since 1994, I have been involved as a General Support worker, assisting with the re-work of the present Wright Flyer Project aircraft. As a team, we continue to strive towards our efforts to put the aircraft in the wind tunnel to gain data on flight characteristics for use in building a modified plane, which is capable of safe flight.

Over the years I have been interested in many things. I can remember in 1947, I came across an article of interest regarding a control wing aircraft. This article inspired my thinking that this would be an ideal design for an ultra-light aircraft. Finding the crew at the Wright Flyer Project has stimulated my interests in this field, and I enjoy the camaraderie. I look forward to each get together, as the challenges keep me young. In my spare time, I continue to work on special interest projects such as a Radio Controlled (R/C) model of the control wing concept.

Manic Monday - Blood Red

This was going to be my "Manic Monday" post to go with Memorial Day but I opted for a little fun as I was waiting on military photos that didn't arrive in time. For those with family members in harms way, may they all return safely,

June 25, 1950 the 38th Parallel marked the beginning of a war that was to be like no other. Many years have passed since the end of the Chosin Reservoir Campaign in North Korea. The American public has all but forgotten the violence and valor that took place there at the fighting man's level. The fiftieth anniversary of the Korean War gives both the armed forces and the nation an opportunity to honor those veterans who served in that bitter war. The battle continues along the present demilitarized zone. The location of this line largely above the 38th Parallel is historic evidence that in Korea, aggression did not pay. In Korea the American soldier with his Korean and United Nations allies fought with bravery and skill against his communist foes.

Decorations: First Lieutenant Raymond Clifford Denchfield was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, with "V" for heroic achievement. Quoted from: Headquarters of the 7th Infantry Division, APO 7, General Orders # 98, 9 December, 1950:

"First Lieutenant Raymond C. Denchfield, 0-58879, Infantry, United States Army, while a member of Company A, 32nd Infantry, distinguished himself by heroic action near Seoul, Korea, on 25 September, 1950. On this date, Lieutenant Denchfield noticed that a small group of men from his company were trapped behind a stone wall and that most of their leaders were killed or wounded. Realizing the seriousness of the situation, Lieutenant Denchfield gathered, organized, and led a group of all the men in the immediate area in an attack against the enemy's positions. Although wounded and in great pain, he continued to bring harassing fire against the enemy's position until he was force to withdraw. Lieutenant Denchfield's fearless leadership and heroic action on this occasion reflect great credit on himself and the military service. Entered the military from the State of Colorado."

First Lieutenant Denchfield was awarded the Purple Heart posthumously. Previously he had been awarded 1 Purple Heart and 1 Bronze Star .

He was promoted to Captain, posthumously.

Previous to his service in Korea, Lt. Denchfield was awarded the American Campaign Medal, the Europe/Africa/Middle East Campaign Medal, the World War II Victory Medal, and the Army Occupation Medal. He served the United States Army faithfully from June 11, 1940 to the date of his death at the Chosin Reservoir, Korea, on Nov. 30, 1950.

Remains were returned by North Koreans in 1955 and burial by parents, Mr. and Mrs. Earnst Lange, (mother and stepfather) Crown Hill Cemetery, Wheatridge, CO

Quote from his brother's diary:

"Ray was simply the bravest man I have ever known"

To a Fallen Soldier

I was the baby born after your death,

So I never saw you--Never touched your face or hair,

Or felt your arms around me,

Or looked into your eyes,

Or heard your voice--

And yet, while we never had a conversation,

You spoke to me by your actions.

You spoke of courage,

For you pulled others out

When they were pinned.

You spoke of caring,

For you wrote my mother,

Even when you didn't get a letter.

You spoke of balance, for you planned,

Even in the agonizing pulse of battle.

You spoke of hope--

Even as you gave your life.

You spoke.

You are speaking to me now.

Thank you, Daddy

Diana Denchfield Clancy

25 May 2007

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee


On May 27 at 9:00 PM, the epic drama Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee based on Dee Brown's non-fiction book will debut on HBO. Published in 1971, Dee Brown's book is one of the foremost works documenting the systematic subjugation of the American Indian during the latter half of the 19th century. It has sold nearly five million copies and has been translated into 17 languages. BURY MY HEART AT WOUNDED KNEE powerfully explores the tragic impact that the United States' westward expansion had on American Indian culture, and the economic, political and social pressures that motivated it.

The Wounded Knee Massacre was the last major armed conflict between the Dakota Sioux and the United States, subsequently described as a "massacre" by General Nelson A. Miles in a letter to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs.

On December 29, 1890, five hundred troops of the U.S. 7th Cavalry, supported by four Hotchkiss guns (a lightweight artillery piece capable of rapid fire), surrounded an encampment of Miniconjou Sioux (Lakota) and Hunkpapa Sioux (Lakota) with orders to escort them to the railroad for transport to Omaha, Nebraska. The commander of the 7th had been ordered to disarm the Lakota before proceeding and placed his men in too close proximity to the Lakota, alarming them. Shooting broke out near the end of the disarmament, and accounts differ regarding who fired first and why.

By the time it was over, 25 troopers and 300 Lakota Sioux lay dead, including men, women, and children. Many of the dead soldiers are believed to have been the victims of "friendly fire" as the shooting took place at point blank range in chaotic conditions, and most of the Lakota had previously been disarmed. Around 150 Lakota are believed to have fled the chaos, of which many likely died from exposure

23 May 2007

Print The Legend

While in school, my son used to admit himself to the studios when no one at anything resembling a gate was looking and somehow managed to get himself put to work by the various laborers and technicians on the lots. He had a good time and often ended up in crowd scenes. There is even a fraction of a second in one of the Star Trek films where he can manage to point himself out even if it does take longer to say, "There I went" than he is on the screen.

One day coming home from his latest adventure he brought home a small reel of commercial film that has since gone walk about during one of our many moves. It was one of many editors copies that would have been tossed. What was significant is that it is the opening sequence of John Wayne's last film. The last movie he made before dying from cancer was The Shootist, a movie about an old gunfighter dying of cancer. What makes this opening significant is that no other actor could have made it. It is a sequence of a gunman aging through years while firing his gun. Every shot in it is John Wayne aging through films while firing his gun. The movie closes with a final shootout with many of the legendary "shootists" from motion pictures and television so that the whole film seems like the passing of an era. It is a movie about coming to terms with the past and the future.

James Stewart came out of semi-retirement to support his friend. Wayne and Stewart had appeared together before, in John Ford's 1962 western, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. It's a film lover's delight to see the two stars together again. In Liberty Valence, there is a line, "This is the west, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend. " With The Shootist as his final film, John Wayne proved to be as brave in life as he appeared on the screen.

This would have been John Wayne's 100th birthday. Much has been written about Wayne, his life, his career, his politics and his family. Some of it might have even had a grain of truth. None of it truly matters because this is the west and when legend become fact, print the legend:

The final shootout from "The Shootist"

The shootout from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence

22 May 2007

Shelly Kneupper Tucker

Shelly of This Eclectic Life is a beautiful story teller who occasionally likes to drop by and leave a thought or two which is very much appreciated.

She confesses that "I collect hats, which hang on my walls collecting dust. I have a hoard of “hands,” books, antique fans, spinning wheels, musical instruments, toys, antique tools, masks. I’m a recovering packrat. That’s a lie. I would like to be recovering." which means that her home must look a little like this

Shelly has a wish list of things to do and see. The least I can do is give her some visuals on a few of them>

Kiss The Blarney Stone

Build a house for Habitat for Humanity.

Stand in a field filled with Monarch butterflies, just to feel the magic.

All you need to do for this one is follow the directions on This Page and some October you will be in Pacific Grove, staying at Asilomar and walking to the Monarch Butterfly sanctuary where you can dance in a cloud of gold and black.

You will have to go to her website to read the whole intriguing and delightful list of things to do someday. In the meantime, here is an audience that should have had a Shelly in it.

The Globe Theater in London

21 May 2007

Manic Monday - Graphic


Mo of It's A Blog Eat Blog World has declared "Graphic" to be the word of the week.

As it happens, pertaining to, or expressed by writing: graphic symbols, written, inscribed, or drawn fits right in with something out of the ordinary that I am reading: A Is For Ox by Lyn Davies, a short history of the western alphabet, starting with its earliest roots, Sumerian cuneiform, Egyptian hieroglyphs etc.

It sounds dull as dirt but is actually a fascinating history of our alphabet and the changes in the graphics made through the centuries by - Greeks, Etruscans, Romans, medieval scribes - until the early printers in Italy arrive at the form we know today.

Each letter's history is illustrated on a double page, showing and explaining the evolution it went through with time and country influences. If you have an interest in language, it is a joy to read.

3400-3100: Inscription on Mesopotamian tokens overlap with pictography

Egyptian Book of the Dead
Scribes employed in Egypt.

2400: In India, engraved seals identify the writer.


2200: Date of oldest existing document written on papyrus.

Phoenician Script
Phoenician alphabet.

775: Greeks develop a phonetic alphabet, written from left to right.

The Rosetta Stone is a slab of black basalt dating from 196 BC. Its inscription (a royal decree praising Egypt's king Ptolemy V) was written on the stone three times: once in hieroglyphic, once in demotic, and once in Greek. Jean Francois Champollion, a French Egyptologist, was able to compare the three languages and decifer Egyptian hieroglyphics, thus unlocking a window into the past. Since then, most everything that remains of the Egyptians' ancient writings have been translated by new generations of Egyptologists. The stone now resides in the British Museum, in London.

18 May 2007

Crowning Glories

And the winner of the Preakness is: Curlin

Street Sense


On Saturday there will be two horses on people's minds. It will be one year since Barbaro was going for the second jewel in the triple crown at the Preakness. It will be impossible for those who saw the tragic accident that eventually ended his life not to remember the great Kentucky Derby winner and the months of treatment that made the whole nation aware of a magnificent animal. Pimilico has renamed the Sir Barton Stakes in his honor. The Barbaro Stakes will run just before the Preakness.

Going off from post position 8 in the Preakness will be Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense. He will be competing against eight other horses who are the best of their generation. Can Street Sense take the second leg and wear the black eyed susans as well as he wore the roses? If he wins, will we finally have a triple crown winner wearing a blanket of carnations at The Belmont?

For those who want to bet or just know the who what and where, here is the Preakness field with their jockeys and odds

1 Mint Slewlap 30/1 Desormeux

2 Xchanger 15/1 Bravo

3 Circular Quay 8/1 Velazquez

4 Curlin 7/2 Albarado

5 King of the Roxy 12/1 Gomez

6 Flying First Class 20/1 Guidry

7 Hard Spun 5/2 Pino

8 Street Sense 7/5 Borel

9 C P West 20/1 Prado

For those who like to join in on traditions, here is your meal and beverage for the Preakness

Maryland Crab Cakes

1 lb. Crab meat (preferably back-fin)
1/4 c. Mayonnaise
2 T. Parsley, minced
1/2 t. Salt
1/2 c. Soft bread crumbs
2 Eggs, beaten
5 drops Tabasco sauce
fine cracker crumbs
1 stick Butter (can substitute margarine or oil)
Optional for those who prefer more zing: 1 T. horseradish

Combine all ingredients except crumbs and butter and mix together lightly. Form into desired size cakes but do not pack firmly then pat lightly with cracker crumbs. Chill for an hour so they are easier to handle.

Heat butter in a large skillet and fry cakes until golden brown on all sides. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately.


Black-Eyed Susan
Traditional drink of the Preakness

2 oz. Grand Marnier
1/2 oz. White Creme de Menthe
1/2 oz. Brandy
Crushed ice
Pour liquors over crushed ice in a shaker,

shake well and pour into a glass.

Linda Rocks

M & M Refills

Linda of Are We There Yet was here. Now you can go there and meet a truly nice lady.

17 May 2007

Under The Big Top

As has been mentioned here before, my favorite musical is "Barnum". There have been better musicals, with better songs, but there has never been another one for me where virtually every song relates to something in my life past or present.

My other major obsession is politics, and it occurs to me that both of these ideas have something in common: In both locations, there are high wire acts, jugglers, and clowns. They are both played out under a big top and there is a sucker born every minute (even though Barnum never said the line attributed to him).

While the real P. T. Barnum is famous for his museum and his circus, he was also a politician. Even more unknown is his deep religious faith that complimented his civic activities even though he totally believed in the separation of church and state. In this age of mixing theology with legislation, seeing how Barnum did it, puts our current crop of pharisees to shame and makes our politicians look like crooks and flim flam artists.

Between 1831 and 1834 Barnum edited his own newspaper in Danbury, the Herald of Freedom. He started the paper to combat what he perceived to be sectarian attempts to bring about a union of church and state.

In 1835 Barnum was once again in New York City. There he first got into show business with his exhibit of Joice Heth, who claimed to be the 161-year-old nurse to George Washington. Next, during 1836-37, he took a small circus on a tour throughout the South. These ventures prepared him in 1842 to open the American Museum in New York City, through which he made his first fortune. Its lecture hall and 3,000-seat theater, provided entertainment and learning over the years to 37 million people.

In 1864 in an interview with a New York Sun reporter Barnum said this of his religious faith: "I believe there is a great Creator, infinite in his attributes of wisdom, power, and mercy: that His name is Love. I believe He is a God of all justice, and that He will chasten every person whom He ever created sufficiently to reform him, in this world, or some other."

At his death Barnum left the Bridgeport Universalist society a legacy of $15,000. He gave the national movements newly founded institution of higher education, Tufts College, $150,000 to establish a Museum of Natural History. In addition he sent the museum mounted skins, skeletons and other animal remains, and the great elephant Jumbo's hide. When he died his will stipulated $7,000 for the Universalist Publishing House, $5,000 for the Connecticut Universalist Convention, $1,000 for the Chapin Home, and $500 for the Woman's Centenary Association.

In his business ethics Barnum was more honest then most people have been in the entertainment and public relations fields. Most Americans, he thought, worked too much and as a consequence did not know how to spend their leisure time. While he frankly admitted that "my prime object has been to put money in my purse," he also proudly asserted that "No one . . . can say that he ever paid for admission to one of my exhibitions more than his admission was worth to him."

In 1889 Barnum summarized in a notebook his principles of life: "The noblest art is that of making others happy, honesty, sobriety, industry, economy, education, good habits, perseverance, cheerfulness, love to God and good will toward men. These are the preeminent requisites for securing Health, Independence, or a Happy Life, the respect of Mankind and the special favor of our Father in Heaven." By the time of his death in 1891, Barnum's name and legacy began to take on a life of their own.

On April 30, 1980 the musical, Barnum opened at Broadway's St. James Theatre. It seems only fitting that the world's ultimate showman should have a flamboyant and joyful musical in his honor.


Lisa of Grrrrlz stopped by to say hi. She loves Harry Potter, so she can stop by here anytime to check when the movie and Book 7 will appear.

While waiting for Harry to appear, she can rewatch Nottinghill and enjoy Elvis Costello

16 May 2007

Thank You for Stopping By

On Meme days we all get a lot of visitors. In between times, people may wander through, but often don't comment, and I must confess that I often do the same: Just read my favorites and click away. I'm trying to be better and at the very least saying "hi!" in passing so they know someone thought their words were important enough to read without being anonymous.

So here are some presents for the most recent visitors who took the time to say hello. I tried to pick videos that in someway matched the profiles from their blogs.

I hope you like them as this will become a semi-regular feature for all the lovely people who come calling.

Robyn (For everyone with a gypsy in their soul)

Danielle (Jazz, piano, and an unforgetable voice)

Shelly ( I thought a Texan word lover would enjoy some other southern word lovers.)

I Remember It Well

This is another one of my "Stream of Consciousness" posts as one thing just sort of lead to another to reach happy and unhappy endings.

On May 15 in 1958 Gigi premiered at New York's Royale Theater. While it has since be done on the stage, Lerner and Lowe wrote this for the screen without a visit to Broadway first.

Directed by Vincente Minnelli, the film starred Maurice Chevalier, Louis Jourdan, Hermione Gingold and Leslie Caron. Based on the novel of the same name by French writer Colette. Virtually every song in the Lerner and Lowe score was a hit with special emphasis on the ones performed by Maurice Chevalier: "Thank Heavens for Little Girls" and "I Remember It Well." A third song that the veteran performer sang became a signature song for his stage act, "Thank God I'm Not Young Any more".


The film softly glossed over the theme of the original Collette story of a young girl being raised to go into the family business of being "Le Grande Horizontal". It had a happy ending unlike the other story from this French time period of "Camille" which has gone on to be performed in novel, play, ballet, and opera.

Good girls may get married, but bad girls become famous and get the loot before their eventual comeuppance in tragedy. Collette was decidedly NOT a good girl, but she is one of the most fascinating writers to ever pick up a pen.

One to the best actresses to perform Camille on the stage was Laura Keene. Being an actress in this time period was not considered a profession for a good girl, so Laura Keene's story is just a shade on the scandalous side as well. But her story gets overshadowed by history as she was performing in Our American Cousin at Ford's Theater the April night when Abraham Lincoln was watching her from the presidential box above her head.

Laura Keene

And just to bring it back full circle to Maurice Chevalier, here he is singing "Louise" for another "bad girl", Louise Brooks.