Helen Hayes

Actress Helen Hayes was born on October 10, 1900. Tuesday. Leap year.

The Way We Were

She’s like the wind

Baji Rao I Peshwa of the Maratha Empire.
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Marshall Field & Company

Baji Rao I was born on August 18, 1700.

Marshall Field founder of Chicago department store chain Marshall Field & Company was born on August 18, 1834.

Artist Alfred Wallis was born on August 18, 1855. 

Australian poet and literary critic Nettie Palmer was born on August 18, 1885.

French singer Lucienne Boyer was born on August 18, 1901.

Max Factor, Jr. of cosmetics empire fame, was born on August 18, 1904.

Blues musician Curtis Jones was born on August 18, 1906. He wrote and recorded Highway 51 in 1938, famously covered by Bob Dylan in 1962.

Also born on August 18th: lots of actors including Robert Redford, 1936; Patrick Swayze, 1952; Edward Norton, 1969; and Malcolm-Jamal Warner, 1970. 

For today

According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, August 18th and 19th are the best days to begin logging, set posts, or pour concrete, so if you are in the forestry or construction game, these will be fine days ahead indeed.

Assignment: write the 9th rule of Fight Club

I could sign off here with a predictable Patrick Swayze quote, but frankly, I think too much of you to do that, so instead, I will pick which Ex-President you should be from another of my most favorite movies, Point Break: Who doesn’t want to be Reagan? 

Words to ponder: “Hey, even the Mona Lisa is falling apart.”

Lucienne Boyer – Parlez-Moi D’Amour [1930]

Curtis Jones, Highway 51, 1938

The Man Who Came to Dinner

And the greatest British adventurer you’ve never heard of. To Alexander Woollcott, for reasons that are nobody’s business.

Gene Stratton-Porter’s portrait of an Eastern Screech Owl.

Photographer Gene Stratton-Porter was born on August 17, 1863. 

Shakespearean actress Julia Marlowe was born on August 17, 1866, in England.

Actress Mae West was born on August 17, 1893.

Actor Monty Wooley was born on August 17, 1888.

Travel writer Vivienne de Watteville was born on August 17, 1900, in the United Kingdom. She is the author of 

two books Africa: Out in the Blue (1927) and Speak to the Earth: Wanderings and Reflections Among Elephants and Mountains(1935).

Hemingway’s original manuscript for the short story The Snows of Kilimanjaro included an epithet from Speak to the Earth. Here is a link to an article about her in The Telegraph called On the trail of the greatest female British adventurer you’ve never heard of by Anthony Peregrine.

L: Vivienne de Watteville. R: Publicity photo of Monty Wooley from a stage presentation of his most famous role in The Man Who Came to Dinner at the Plymouth Theater.

Photographer Lida Moser was born on August 17, 1920. See more of her work National Gallery of Art Linda Moser Archive or the photographic estate holder of Moser’s work Alida Anderson Art Projects.

Parts of the Face: French Vocabulary Lesson 1961 Larry Rivers 1923–2002 Purchased 1962 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T00522

Expressionist artist Larry Rivers was born on August 17, 1923. Neither here nor there, but he has been a favorite of mine ever since a wonderful painting teacher named Fred Lynch showed me a thick book of his paintings in 1999.

Ike Abrams Quebec

Jazz tenor saxophonist Ike Quebec was born on August 17, 1918.

Also born on August 17th:

Davy Crockett, 1786; movie producer Samuel Goldwyn, 1882; actor Robert de Niro, 1943; and lead singer of the Go-Gos Belinda Carlisle, 1958.

For today:

Lucky number: 5

Magic Eight Ball says: Don’t count on it.

Robert De Niro movie to watch: Goodfellas

Closing Thoughts: Vacation. It’s all you ever wanted.

Making Old Bodies Young

The Modern Prometheus

Frankenstein (1931) starring Mae Clark and Boris Karloff.

Actress Mae Clark was born on August 16, 1910.

Writer and fiction editor at The New Yorker from 1936 to 1975, William Keepers Maxwell Jr. was born on August 16, 1908.

The “father of experimental psychology”, Wilhelm Wundt was born on August 16, 1832. He founded the first psychology laboratory at Leipzig University in Germany in 1879.

Italian monk, cosmographer, and cartographer Vincenzo Coronelli was born on August 16, 1650.

Physical Culture Magazine, 1908

Original fitness guru eccentric Bernarr Macfadden was born on August 16, 1868. Famously suspicious of modern medicine, he composed quite a canon of self-improvement and fitness volumes (below). I really need to look some of these up, such as 1935’s Woman’s Sex Life. How strangely singular. Anyway, he looks like someone who has many things insightful and nuanced to say about the opposite sex.

Also born on August 16th:

Lesley Ann Warren, in 1946, and Madonna, in 1958. Coincidentally they are both actresses in two of my most favorite movies, Clue and Desperately Seeking Susan. Both movies came out in 1985. I watched and loved both that very same year as an 8-year-old and then for the rest of my life.

There is a lot more history for August 16th, including the deaths of Babe Ruth (1948); Elvis (1977); and Aretha Franklin (2018), far too much for me to wrap up neatly here.

For today:

Epithet: “Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.” Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Frankenstein

Lucky Numbers: 8–64–73–102

Required Reading: Making Old Bodies Young lessons 1 and 2, by Bernarr MacFadden

Diagnosis: Murder

Mae Clarke as nurse Marge Brown and John Beradino as Doctor Steve Hardy from General Hospital, 1963

Lions, and Tigers, and Pie

View of Hyde Park Corner Turnpike, Westminster, London, 1792.

Civil engineer John Metcalf, also known as Blind Jack, was born on August 15, 1717. Blind from the age of six, he has a surprising legacy in pioneering modern road construction, along with John MacAdam and Thomas Telford.

Also born on August 15th:

Napoléon Bonaparte, 1769

Writer Sir Walter Scott , 1771.

Writer and abolitionist Eliza Lee Cabot, 13th child of Samuel and Sarah, 1785.

Founder of the Labour PartyKeir Hardie, 1856.


“The Frog asks to be allowed to enter the Castle”, illustration for The Frog Prince, Walter Krane, 1874

Artist Walter Crane,1845. He is remembered especially for his illustrations in children’s literature, and in popularizing the Arts and Crafts movement.

Magical writer and poet Edith Nesbit, 1858.

Composer Samuel Coleridge Taylor, 1875.

Baseball player and controversial manager and owner of the Chicago White Sox, Charles Comiskey, 1859.

Actresses Ethel Barrymore, 1879 and Estelle Brody, 1900

Expressionist painter Jack Tworkov, 1900

Chef, author, and teacher Julia Child, 1912

Graphic designer Paul Rand, 1914

Artist Leonard Baskin, 1922

On August 15th:

Aug. 15, 1939: Munchkins join the “Wizard of Oz” festivities at the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. (Gordon Wallace / Los Angeles Times)

The Panama Canal opened in1914.

The Wizard of Oz premiered in Los Angeles in 1939.

Woodstock opened in 1969.

According to the Calendar of Weird Holidays, August 15th is National Leathercraft Day, Lemon Meringue Pie Day, and National Relaxation Day. The Old Farmers Almanac says August 15th is a good day to plant aboveground crops, breed animals, slaughter livestock, brew beer or cider, and begin a diet to gain weight, so go get on that pie I guess?

Tonight’s moon is the first quarter moon and in the astrological sign Scorpio. The Sun is all by itself in Leo.

What all of this means for the rest of your weekend:

I don’t know. Today I learned that a large part of the modern road system over which we transverse was conceived and executed by a blind man, so I have some thinking to do.