Monthly Archives: June 2012

Thought of the Day 6.30.12

“Shadow owes its birth to light.”

John Gay

John Gay was born on this day in Barnstaple, England in 1685. We are celebrating the 327th anniversary of his birth.

Gay was a poet and dramatist. His most famous work was the Beggar’s Opera, but he wrote several other satirical plays. The Beggar’s Opera is considered the first successful ballad opera, and the predecessor of the popular operetta that would take hold on the English stage a century or so later with Gilbert and Sullivan.

He was a contemporary of Jonathan Swift and Alexander Pope. He studied music with George Frideric Handel.

Gay died at 47 and was buried in Poet’s Corner of Westminster Abbey. His epitaph is from the Beggar’s Opera “Life is a jest, and all things show it: I thought so once and now I know it.”


John Gay

John Gay (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Thought of the Day 6.29.12

“True happiness comes from the joy of deeds well done, the zest of creating things new.”

-Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Antoine de Saint-Exupery was born in Lyons, France on this day in 1900. He would have been 112.

Saint-Exupery was an aviator, adventurer and writer. He made his first solo flight in July of 1921. By 1926 he had secured a job flying mail for Aeropstale over North Africa. His first novel, Southern Mail, was written shortly after. His move to South America and work as director of Aeroposta Argentina became the basis of his second novel, Night Flight. The book was an international best seller and was made into a movie starring Clark Gable in 1933. While recovering from two serious aviation accidents he wrote Wind, Sand and Stars.

At the outbreak of WWII he joined the French Air Force and flew reconnaissance missions. When France fell to Germany, he travelled to the United States and tried to build support for the US entering the War. While here he published Flight to Arras. After two years in the States he joined the Free French Air Force in North Africa, again flying reconnaissance missions. On July 31, 1944 he took off  from an airbase on Corsica and never returned.

The Little Prince  was written while he was in the US, and was published in 1943. It was Saint-Exupery’s best selling book. It has been translated into 250 languages and has sold 200 million copies.

Cover of "The Little Prince (Turtleback S...

Cover via Amazon


Thought of the Day 6.28.12

“There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.”

-Jacqueline B. Kennedy Onassis


Jacqueline Lee Bouvier was born on this day in Southampton, New York, in 1929. She would have been 83.

She she had a  privileged childhood full of books and riding lessons. She went to Vassar College and after her Junior year abroad, in France, transferred to George Washington University.  In 1951 she began to work for the Washington Times-Herald newspaper as an “Inquiring Camera Girl,” roving the streets of the city shooting the people she met and asking them for their opinions on current events. One of the people  she met was a young Congressman — and soon to be Senator — from Massachusetts, John F. Kennedy.

Bouvier and Kennedy  wed in 1953. In 1960 he ran for President of the United States. Jackie was  pregnant with their second child and was confined to home, but she helped Jack with the campaign by writing a weekly column “Campaign Wife,” filming commercials and answering letters. Kennedy won the election by a narrow margin over Richard Nixon.  and Jackie became First Lady (a term she disliked because it made her sound like a race horse.)

As First Lady she made renovations to the White House, promoted the arts, and became Good Will Ambassador  to the World. But above all she wanted to be a good wife and mother. “If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do well matters very much.”

President Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963 in Dallas, Texas, and Jackie became a widow at the age of 34.

In 1968 she fell in love with Aristotle Onassis a Greek shipping magnate and the two married. Sadly, Onassis died in 1975, leaving her a widow for the second time.

Jackie returned to the publishing world, becoming an editor at Viking Press and then a senior editor at Doubleday Press.

She died on May 19, 1994 and is buried next to President Kennedy at Arlington National Cemetery.


Mrs. Kennedy's trip to India. Udaipur, Rajasth...

Mrs. Kennedy’s trip to India. Udaipur, Rajasthan, cruise on Lake Pichola, March 17, 1962. (Photo credit: Sacheverelle)


Thought of the Day 6.27.12

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”

–Helen Keller

Helen Keller was born on this day in 1880 in Tuscumbia, Alabama. She would have been 132.


When Keller was 19 months old she contracted an illness that left her deaf and blind. Although able to communicate with rudimentary “Home Signs” she was essentially isolated from the outside world until Anne Sullivan arrived at the Keller home. Sullivan taught Keller American Sign Language. Keller went on to become the first deaf blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. Eventually she learned to speak, could read Braille, and could communicate through sign language and by reading people’s lips with her hands.

She became a political activist and writer, advocating for people with disabilities.

Helen Keller

Helen Keller (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


My Darcy Weekend

As you may recall from Will (and Jane) This Summer in B’more (June 6) THIS past Friday, Saturday and Sunday was Regency Weekend at the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company (CSC).  The acting troupe put on Christina Calvit’s adaptation of  Jane Austen’s delightful Pride and Prejudice.  The Jane Austen Society of North America: Maryland Chapter (JASNA:MD) joined forces with CSC on Sunday for our Summer meeting, and I came by with some family and friends on Saturday to help with a Game Tent and to drum up some interest in JASNA.


My lovely daughter Maggie, my sister Margie, my husband Bill and I headed to Ellicott City’s Patapsco Female Institute (the stabilized ruins of an old girls school that is now an open air theatre and part of the Howard County Park System) where we met our friends  Lynn Reynolds, Chris and Matt. There  we split up to handle Game Duties and the JASNA recruitment table.

I created the Jane Game while working with a graphic design student. It was a side-by-side project and our goal was to create a board game that we would want to play. It is a trivia game based on the novels of Jane Austen and comes with a laminated or cloth playing board, 100 cards on Pride and Prejudice, glass game pieces and a draw string bag. If you are interested in securing your very own game send me a message.

At the Game Tent we set up The JANE GAME a trivia game based on Pride and Prejudice and Austen BINGO.

WoMANning the JASNA table. (Photo courtesy of Kim Rock)

Over at the JASNA info table we had registration forms and some fun Austen inspired gear. JASNA is a terrific organization dedicated to the appreciation of Jane Austen and her writing. The over 4,000 members in JASNA (US and Canada) enjoy reading and discussing Austen’s books, learning more about the things Jane liked to do, and exploring the world that influenced her writing. Membership is open to every one interested in the life and works of Jane Austen and includes: a subscription to JASNA News; JASNA’s literary journal — Persuasions; an invitation to the Annual General Meeting; An invitation to join one or more local chapter — like  JASNA: MD ; and participation in members-only tours of Austen sites.  Membership is only $30.00 per year (for individual members.)

We got to talk to some lovely people (first from the cast, then  from the audience) and then we got to see the play.

Mr. Darcy observes Caroline and Lizzy in a scene from Pride and Prejudice (running now through the end of July at the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company.)

As you may have already figured  out, I’m a huge Jane Austen fan (I’ve created a board  game based on her books and I’ve got my own Regency dress, for heavens sake!)  So I was primed and ready for this stage play of P&P.

And I’m happy to say it was universally charming! Happy thought INDEED!

The pre-show panel “Kitty and Lydia: Mischief and Merriment” with Rachael Jacobs, Karen Stakem Hornig, Mark Turner, Jana Stambaugh and moderator, Polly Bart.


JASNA:MD worked with CSC to pull together a special treat for Sunday’s audience, a pre-show panel discussion on “Kitty and Lydia: Mischief and Merriment.” Polly Bart, JASNA:MD’s Programming Chair, co-ordinated the event for the group and acted as the moderator for the panel. She brought together the actresses who play Kitty and Lydia, Jana Stambaugh and Rachael Jacobs, with JASNA members Mark Turner and Karen Stakem Hornig.

Kitty and Lydia on stage.

The actresses spoke on the joys and challenges of bringing their 200 year old characters from the page to the stage. Turner, who is known for delighting JASNA members with his mind tickling Austen era Charades, took over with “Kitty and Lydia: Their Roles and Relationships” (aka “The Case of the Ugly Bonnet”)

Hornig holds up her favorite film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.

Hornig presented “Kitty and Lydia as Character Types in Film Adaptations of Pride and Prejudice.” (Note the image of Colin Firth on the cover the Collector’s Edition of the DVD.)

Photo courtesy Kim Rock

My friend Kim helped me at the JASNA registration/info table on Sunday. We met some wonderful Jane fans who were interested in learning about the organization, as well as tons of lovely current JASNA members stopped by to say hello!

Jane and Lizzie share a sisterly moment in Act One.

I enjoyed the show even more on Sunday. (All the stage shots in this blog are from Sunday’s performance — you aren’t allowed to use a  flash, but since the Sunday show starts two hours earlier… I could shoot with out a flash.)

Sadly I don’t have any photos of Jose Guzman as Mr. Collins. He was hilarious as the sycophant clergyman. Jonas David Grey (Mr. Bennet) and James Jager (Mr. Bingley) were also very funny. Blythe Coons (Lizzy) and Adam Sheaffer (Mr. Darcy) gave more subtle, but equally delicious performances. I particularly like how the audience on Sunday was cheering for Jana Stambaugh — after her pre-show talk about how she, Kitty,  was the “Jan” of the Bennet family, she definitely had us in her corner.

This just in: Thanks to Kim Rock, we now have a picture showing Mr. Collins! (fourth from the right).

Although my weekend with Mr. Darcy, Lizzy and the rest of the Pride and Prejudice cast is over I hope that you will take the opportunity to visit Chesapeake Shakespeare Company this summer and catch this charming adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic.

Pride and Prejudice runs in repertoire with Romeo and Juliet until July 29th.

Cheers! Rita

Thought of the Day 6.26.12

“You can judge your age by the amount of pain you feel when you come in contact with a new idea.”

–Pearl S. Buck

Pearl S. Buck was born Pearl Comfort Sydenstricker on this day in Hillsboro, West Virginia in 1892. She would have been 120.

She was one of seven children born to Absalom and Caroline Sydenstricker. The Sydenstrickers were Southern Presbyterian missionaries who were stationed in China. Pearl spent much of the first half of her life in Asia and drew on her experiences there for East Wind, West Wind and The Good Earth. The latter won the Pulitzer Prize and the Howells Medal. She was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1938

In 1935 she moved back to the US and became active in both the Civil Rights Movement and the Woman’s Rights Movement. She also worked to bridge the cultural gap between the US and China, and she founded the Welcome House and the Pearl S. Buck Foundation.

English: Pearl Buck

English: Pearl Buck (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thought of the Day 6.25.12

“Every generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.”

–George Orwell

George Orwell was born Eric Arthur Blair  in Motihari, Bihar, British India today in 1903. He would have been 109.

Orwell was a writer who both drew on his own experiences and penned dystopic fantasy to skewer social injustice and totalitarianism.

Although born in India he was raised in England. He returned to the East as a member of the Indian Police Service  in 1922.  He worked there for five years until he came down with Dengue fever, at which point he came back  to Great Britain. Orwell’s novel Burmese Days and his essays “A Hanging” and “Shooting an Elephant” are based on his experiences in India and Burma.

Upon his return to England he took up housing on London’s Portobello Road and decided to write about the lives of the impoverished in his own country. He dressed as if he lived in the streets, took menial jobs and purposefully got himself arrested so he could write first hand accounts of society’s

underbelly.  The book Down and Out in Paris and London chronicled this time period. But he was a man living two lives, as he also held respectable jobs as a journalist and as a teacher much of that time.

Other novels include: The Clergyman’s Daughter, Coming up for Air, The Road to Wigan Pier, Homage to Catalonia and Keep the Aspidistra Flying

Animal Farm, an allegorical take on Communism and corruption,  was published in 1945. It was a critical and financial success, but Orwell was is poor health. He published Nineteen Eighty-Four , his last novel, about a grim society  with perpetual war, thoughtcrimes, doublethink,  and Newspeak in 1949.

Category:George Orwell Category:Nineteen Eight...

Category:George Orwell Category:Nineteen Eighty Four (Original text : George Orwell, 1984. This self-made image is based on a picture that appears in an old acreditation for the BNUJ.) Picture of George Orwell taken from File:GeoreOrwell.jpg. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thought of the Day 6.23.12

“If you love someone, set them free. If they come back they’re yours; if they don’t they never were.”

— Richard Bach

Richard Bach was born in Oak park, Illinois on June 23, 1936.

Bach is a bestselling writer who penned Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Illusions: Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah, One,The Bridge Across Forever: A Love Story,  and Flying: The Aviation Trilogy. Bach continues to write, and this month he published Thank Your Wicked Parents; Blessings from a Difficult Childhood.

Cover of "Jonathan Livingston Seagull"

Cover of Jonathan Livingston Seagull

Thought of the Day 6.22.12

“If you’re going to tell people the truth, be funny or they’ll kill you.”

Billy Wilder

Billy Wilder was born today in Sucha, Galicia, Austria-Hungary 1906. He would have been 106 years old.

Wilder was a film director, producer and screenwriter who made 60 films in a career that spanned more than five decades.

He left Austria when the Nazis came to power and by 1933  found his way to Hollywood.  He worked brilliantly in both drama and comedy. His first American screenwriting credit was for Ninotchka, a screwball spy comedy with Greta Garbo and Melvyn Douglas which he co-wrote in 1939. The classic 1944  film noir drama Double Indemnity with the beautiful Barbara Stanwyck made his reputation as a Director. He pulled double duty, screenwriter and director, for The Lost Weekend and earned double Oscars for his work on the drama. In 1960 he pulled a hat trick, winning Writer, Director and Producer for The Apartment with Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine.

Other Wilder films include: Sunset Boulevard (for which he won an Oscar for Best Screenplay — he co-wrote, but not for Director,) A Star is Born (Writer), The Seven Year Itch, Witness for the Prosecution,  Some Like It Hot, Sabrina, and Stalag 17. [Sunset, Sabrina and Stalag are three of my favorite movies of all time, BTW ]

In 1987 he won the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Academy Award for lifetime  acheivement.


Billy Wilder
Billy Wilder (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


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