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.

Larry Rivers

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.

Night of the Living

Zombies as portrayed in the movie Night of the Living Dead (1968)

George Romero died July 16, 2017. He made Night of the Living Dead. I guess those zombies are supposed to look scary, but to me, they just look like a horde of stepdads heading for the fridge in the middle of the night. And what’s with the one on the left? Did he just get back from a toga party?

Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire in the film Roberta (1935)

Born on July 16th: Saint Clare of Assisi, 1194. Her feast day is August 11th and her patronage includes eye disease, goldsmiths, laundry, television, embroiders, gilders, good weather, and needleworkers.

Also poet Susan Wheeler, 1955; actress and dancer Ginger Rogers, 1911; and farmer and popcorn extraordinaire Orville Redenbacher, 1905. Also artist Charles Sheeler, 1883; journalist and civil rights activist Ida Wells, 1862; and elevator operator Betty Lou Oliver, 1925. When she was twenty years old, she worked at the Empire State Building. On July 28, 1945, what was to be her last day of work with her fiance was returning home from the war, she survived an elevator crash that dropped her 1,000 feet. She was working on the 80th floor when a B-25 bomber accidentally crashed into the building on the 79th floor.  The blow caused the elevator car cables to snap and sent her into a 1,000-foot free fall. This plunge is still listed in the Guinness Book of World Records. Although she never returned to regular work at the Empire State Building, five months later, she returned to the building and rode the elevator to the top.

The engine and part of the wing of a B-25 bomber are seen protruding from the Empire State Building after it crashed into the 79th floor of the structure in New York, July 28, 1945. (ERNIE SISTO/AP Photo)

For today: Interestingly, the 16th card in the tarot deck is The Tower, which the above AP photo kind of reminds me of. The card shows a tower being hit by lightning, and on fire, sometimes with people falling from it. The card is supposed to symbolize sudden destruction and violent change but like all tarot cards, and sudden change come to think of it, does not have to be an altogether sinister card.

As far as what the 16th tarot card means for you, I predict you could and should soon have in your possession piles of exploding kernels that will truly teach us to not resist the idea that violent change could lead to something so much better, provided you also have butter. Hopefully, this will occur with one or more zombie movies in queue.

The Rose Mary Stretch

Peony by Wenceslaus Hollar 

According to the Farmer’s Almanac, today is an excellent day to have dental care, harvest aboveground crops, and to pick fruit.

The start of the first conference on artificial intelligence took place on July 13, 1956.

On July 13, 1973 Alexander Butterfield blew the lid off the existence of Nixon’s Oval Office tapes to the Senate Watergate Committee. One of my favorite Watergate factoids is the implausible explanation of the missing 18.5 minutes of tape, also known as the “Rose Mary Stretch.”

Glastonbury Abbey Lady Chapel c1900.jpg

Julius Caesar was allegedly born today circa 100 B.C. Alchemist John Dee was born on July 13, 1527. Illustrator Wenceslaus Hollar was born on July 13, 1607. Folklorist Margaret Murray was born on July 13, 1863. Children’s author Marcia Brown was born on July 13, 1918. She wrote Stone Soup.

For today: Put on some stretch denim and then get ready to stretch reality, be it through virtual reality, sorcery, alchemy, chemistry, or outright lies (pst –the last one is by far the easiest.)

An Artic Icarus

In an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to reach the North Pole by hydrogen balloon, engineer and aeronaut Salmon August Andrée, accompanied by engineer Knut Frænkel, and photographer Nils Strindberg took off from Spitsbergen, Norway on July 11, 1897. They flew for 65 hours, but a series of unfortunate events including flying directionless into heavy storms, they crash-landed onto pack ice in the middle of the Arctic Ocean.

The Eagle sailing north, photographed from Danes Island

They had flown about 495 km, and spent the next three months attempting to head back over frozen terrain, eventually landing on the deserted Arctic island of Kvitøya sometime in October. The three of them died there and their whereabouts were a mystery until 1930 when their bodies (and Strindberg’s photo plates) were found by chance. It is said that Andree ignored many potential flaws in his plan, including that the balloon had come from Paris directly after being made, had never been tested, and was showing serious signs of leaking. He also ignored concerns that his devised method of steering the balloon with a series of weighted ropes might not be as effective as he claimed (which turned out to be true).

Two Horse, One Horse, No Horse 

The Lumière brothers demonstrated their invention of the cinématographe, the all-in-one camera, developer, and projector on July 11, 1895.

Their first film is 46 seconds and is called Sortie de l’Usine Lumière de Lyon (Workers Leaving the Lumiere Factory in Lyon).

This video shows all three versions, released about a year apart, in 1895, 1896, and 1897 respectively. Each version is often referred to by the number of horses seen in the shot.

Magician Harry Kellar was born July 11, 1849.  Apparently, he was known as the “Dean of Magic,” and specialized in illusions that involved the use of apparatuses. Also, he talked Harry Houdini out of attempting to catch a bullet. He wrote in a letter: “Don’t try the damn bullet catching trick, no matter how sure you may feel of its success. There is always the biggest kind of risk that some dog will ‘job’ you.” Also if you click on that link, there is a picture of the two of them that makes Kellar look an awful lot like Houdini’s ventriloquist dummy.

Night Scene, Paris 1913. Boris Grigoriev

Illustrator H.M. Brock was born July 11, 1875; followed by astronomer and author of Astronomy for Young Folks Isabel Martin Lewis in 1881; Russian painter Boris Grigoriev, in 1886; and writer E.B. White, in 1899. I trust you own The Elements of Style, yes?

Writer Alexander Afanasyev was born July 11, 1826. He published eight volumes of Russian fairytales and folktales.

Chester Gilette murdered Grace Brown on July 11, 1906, inspiring Theodore Dreiser‘s An American Tragedy. Also on July 11; Big Ben rang for the first time in 1859, and Aaron Burr shot Alexander Hamilton in 1804. Remember back before there was a musical, and we all knew about those two was from the milk commercial?

Affirmation for your morning: It’s a wise dog that scratches its own fleas.

Hair of the dog that bit you: sheepdog

Number of horses in the shot: 1

For today: horse betting?

a slightly different version of this was first published July 12, 2018 at www.theanatomyofmelancholy.com

In Search of Lost Time


In Search of Lost Time First galley proof of A la recherche du temps perdu: Du côté de chez Swann with handwritten revision notes by Marcel Proust (1871 – 1922).

In Search of Lost Time

Born on July 10th: Painter Camille Pissarro, in 1831; creator of the daguerreotype, Louis Daguerre, in 1851; physicist Nikola Tesla, in 1856; writers Marcel Proust, in 1871 and Alice Munroe (one of my personal favorite writers), in 1931; and musicians Béla Fleck, in 1958 and Jelly Roll Morton, in 1941.

Photo: Laurent Lecat/Electa/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images

July 10th is the birthday of Nancy Drew mystery writer Mildred Benson. She was born in 1905 and was the first of several writers who wrote under the pseudonym Carolyn Keene for the young adult mystery series.

On July 10, 1938, Howard Hughes began a 91-hour (3 days, 19 hours, and 17 minutes)  flight around the world that set a new world record.

On July 10, 1925, Meher Baba began his 44 years of silence, which lasted until his death in 1969.  July 10th is known as Silence Day to those that follow his teachings.

On July 10, 1913, the atmospheric temperature in Death Valley, California hit the highest ever recorded on Earth: 134 °F (57 °C), measured at Furnace Creek. According to the 2010 Census, Furnace Creek has a population of 24. In case you are curious, the interests of the residents of Furnace Creek are represented by Republicans for both the state and federal legislature:  Senator Tom Berryhill, guilty of money laundering in 2014;  the clearly engaged Congressman Paul Cook; and state assembly member Devon Mathis, who has allegedly been seen drunk on the job by former staffers, and much more troubling, accused of sexual assault. He seems like a real charmer worthy of holding public office.

Sounds like we have stumbled across the actual hell on earth.

For today: Nothing matters.  Be quiet and eat a madeleine.

a slightly different version of this post was first published July 10, 2018 at theanatomyofmelancholy.com

Stranger in a Strange Land

Belgian artist Félicien Rops was born on July 7, 1833. Also Belarusian poet Yanka Kupala, in 1882 and poet Margaret Walker, in 1915. Otto Rohwedder was born on July 7, 1880. He invented the first automatic bread slicing machine. The Chillicothe Baking Company sold the first loaves on July 7, 1928, on Rohwedder’s 48th birthday. Satchel Paige was born on July 7, 1906. Science fiction author Robert Anson Heinlein was born July 7, 1907.

The Human Parody, Félicien Rops circa 1881

Actress Shelly Duvall was born on July 7, 1949. Anyone else see The Shining way too young? That movie, along with the fear of hell’s eternal fire, and this wallpaper gave me many sleepless nights, staring into the abyss.

Yours truly, center, and my childhood version of The Yellow Wallpaper

There are a litany of symbols and superstitions around the number 7. But I am feeling very lazy so I will give you a list of the Seven deadly sins and wrap this up. Lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride. The deadliest for today: (I took care of sloth for you) Pride.

Today’s meditation: I mean is sliced bread really that great?

For today: Play a game of Chutes and Ladders.

Helkavirsiä & the Wheel of Fortune

Anatomist Albert von Kölliker was born in July 6, 1817 in Switzerland. That’s his hand in Röntgen’s 1896 x-ray. Also artists Frida Kahlo and Marc Chagall were born on July 6th, 1907 and 1887 respectively. Finnish poet Eino Leino was born July 6, 1878.

Eino Leino Helkavirsiä 1903 cover by Pekka Halonen.
X-ray of Kölliker’s hand, made by Röntgen on January 23, 1896.

Also born today:

Ballet dancer Francisco Moncion in 1918, First Lady Nancy Reagan in 1921, Merv Griffin, creator of the Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!, in 1925; and actress Janet Leigh in 1927.

Frida Kahlo

Technically the tarot card for today is the 6th Major Arcana card, The Lovers, but in honor of Merv Griffin’s birthday, I am calling it the Wheel of Fortune, the 10th card. It is a card that symbolizes big life questions, turning points, karma, and fate. I will assume you are looking for heads or tails on some of life’s big questions, so

The Wheel of Fortune Tarot Card Meaning in Readings: the Unpredictable

peanut butter & jelly: peanut butter

bread & butter: bread

fish & chips: chips

bricks & mortar: mortar

crime & punishment: crime

salt & pepper: pepper

birds & bees: bees

lost & found: lost

slip & slide: slip

gin & juice: juice

forgive & forget: forgive