Tag Archives: Christmas presents

April 14th is special because …

I’m musing today on the notable literary events that happened on this day in history.

The funniest thing in this list is the play which opened and closed on the same day – “Take Me Along.” Sad, too, because “Take Me Along” was nominated for ten Tony Awards in 1960, and Jackie Gleason won the Tony for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical. I guess the 1985 version didn’t live up to the standards set by the 1960 production.

Lincoln's assassination1828 – First American Dictionary: its author Noah Webster registers its copyright for publication.
1841 – Edgar Allen Poe’s “Murders in the Rue Morgue” published

Murders in the  Rue Morgue

Murders in the
Rue Morgue1863 – William Bullock patents continuous-roll printing press

1865 – President Abraham Lincoln is shot by John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theater. He was viewing a performance of “Our American Cousin.”

Sherlock Holmes Jeremy Brett1887 – Start of Sherlock Holmes adventure “Reigate Squires” (BG)
1894 – 1st public showing of Thomas Edison’s kinetoscope (moving pictures)
1906 – US President Theodore Roosevelt denounces “muckrakers” in US press, taken from John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress

1939 – John Steinbeck novel “The Grapes of Wrath” publishedThe Grapes of Wrath

1980 – Pulitzer prize awarded to Norman Mailer (Executioner’s Song)
The Executioner's Song

1985 – “Take Me Along!” opens/closes at Martin Beck Theater NYC

1992 – “Guys & Dolls” opens at Martin Beck Theater NYC for 1143 performances Les Miserables

1992 – “Les Miserables” opens at Palace Theatre, Manchester

2012 – J. K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter novels, launches her website “Pottermore”

My only claim to fame is that William Shakespeare and I have the same probable birthday, albeit nearly four hundred years apart. Oddly enough, The Bard died on that same date, 52 years later.


An engagement ring for Christmas? Hmm . . .

christmas-engagementAccording to WOKV, a state court in Georgia recently ruled that Christopher Ned Kelley owes his former fiancee Melissa Cooper, with whom he lived for more than a decade, $50,000 for cheating on her. He had fathered her child and given her a $10,000 ring, promising to marry her. Cooper had resigned from her job to raise their child, depending on Kelley to provide for his family, but when she found out Kelley had cheated on her for a second time, she sued him for fraud and for “breach of promise to marry.” She also broke off the engagement and kicked him out of their home.

His defense was that he never intended to marry her. Here’s his statement: “I never initiated the concept of marriage with her, outside of giving her that ring,” he said. “I never said the words ‘will you marry me’ to her.” I guess the ring and the baby were a ploy. He said that she was actually his prostitute. He paid for things, and she provided sexual services for him.

Georgia abolished common law marriages in 1997, so she had no grounds there, and I don’t understand why she didn’t break it off the first time he cheated on her. Besides, he is clearly not husband material. He doesn’t even know the difference between a statement and a question.

I think the case is interesting. Gentlemen, be warned. If you give her an engagement ring and a baby, you have promised to marry her, even if you have cleverly avoided asking the question.

In Regency times, engagements were legally binding. Before a formal engagement, young ladies were expected to be chaste, but once the engagement was announced, the rules were substantially relaxed. Therefore, a broken engagement ruined both the reputation of the lady and the pocketbook of the gentleman. Because the woman was unlikely to find another suitor with such a blot on her character, her male relative could sue the jilter, most often resulting in his payment of a fine (250 pounds). Occasionally, the man would choose instead to marry the lady, though I would not have been amenable to that arrangement for a daughter of mine. That’s too similar to the redneck “shot gun weddings” of them thar hills.

Leonardo da Vinci or Lady Gaga?

In my YES column of “What I Would Like for Christmas” is this wonderful instrument originally designed, but never built, by Leonardo da Vinci. Polish pianist Slawomir Zubrzycki spent four years building his own version of it and debuted the instrument at the Academy of Music in Krakow, Poland last month.

According to Gizmodo, this is how the instrument works:

In the place of a piano’s felt hammers, spinning wheels draw across the strings like a violinist’s bow. The player operates a foot pedal to spin the wheels, playing notes on a keyboard identical to a piano’s. But the sound, sinewy like a stringed instrument but with a piano’s direct, well-defined tones, defies comparison to traditional instruments.

The instrument would require a great deal of skill, as the performer would have to pump the pedal constantly and play the keys in the crawling style of an organ (since the pedal would not act as a damper pedal, allowing the tones to vibrate). I am an organist as well as a pianist, so I would dearly love a chance to try it.Lady Gaga

Colin-hand in hair
What I find absolutely creepy is the new Lady Gaga life-sized doll. (Just in case you can’t tell, the real Gaga is the one in red. I think that one looks more like a doll than the others.) Santa can leave that off my list. Now, a life-sized Colin Firth as Darcy might be decorative . . . hmmmmmmm . . . no. Mannequins who look like living (or dead) people standing or sitting around the house are just too weird, even if they look as good as Colin Firth.

A perfect Christmas present for Mrs. Bennet or Sir Walter Elliot . . .

It’s about that time of year. Halloween is almost here, so you know what that means. In the next couple of weeks we’ll hear Christmas music in the stores and begin to see ads urging us to buy the perfect Christmas present to prove how much we love those special people in our lives.

The Japan Daily Press has the answer for you, my friends – a wallet which can run away from you and scream if you catch it. Buy this gift for the spendthrift in your life and help them to control their out-of-control consumerism.

This wallet is slower than a dead possum. Even I could catch it.

This wallet is slower than a dead possum. Even I could catch it.

Of course, if you buy it for yourself first, you may not go Christmas shopping at all.

Sir Walter Elliot and his daughters

Sir Walter Elliot
and his daughters

When you catch the runaway wallet, it screams, “Don’t touch me!” or “Help me!” It will even e-mail your mother, letting her know that she needs to intervene. Good luck with that in my case. AT&T and Verizon don’t get reception in heaven.

You can shut the wallet up and stop it in its tracks by switching it from “Save Mode” to “Consume Mode,” or perhaps you could just change modes on yourself instead.

I can’t help but think that Sir Walter and Elizabeth Elliot, Mary Musgrove, Mrs. Bennet, and Lydia would have greatly benefited from such gift, for reforming them was out of the question.