Monday, October 31, 2011

John Keats

I saw pale kings and princes too,
Pale warriors, death-pale were they all;
They cried—“La Belle Dame sans Merci
Hath thee in thrall!”
From his 1820 poem, "La Belle Dame Sans Merci" -- "The Beautiful Lady Without Pity."  Here's a link to the entire poem.

This is our "Bad Romance Tuesday" post for this week.  I know it's not Tuesday, but it is the birthday of Keats -- surely that counts for something?

John William Waterhouse's
"La Belle Dame Sans Merci" (1893)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Grace Slick

One pill makes you larger
And one pill makes you small
And the ones that mother gives you
Don't do anything at all
Go ask Alice
When she's ten feet tall

From her Alice in Wonderland-inspired song, "White Rabbit," which she later claimed to have written in just one hour.

Grace Slick was born Grace Barnett Wing on this date in 1939 in Evanston, Illinois.  She went to high school in Palo Alto, California, and was a model for I. Magnin (a tony San Francisco department store) after dropping out of college.  

When she saw the Jefferson Airplane perform at a club in San Francisco, she decided she would make more money and have more fun as a rock star than as a fashion model.  She, her husband, and her brother-in-law formed a band called the Great Society in 1965.

A year later, the Jefferson Airplane's original female lead singer left the band to have a baby, and they invited Grace to take her place.  "White Rabbit" and "Somebody to Love" were both Great Society songs that Grace brought with her to her new band.  Here's a link to a live Great Society performance of "White Rabbit," which features an oboe solo by Mrs. Slick.  (The first 4:20 is instrumental navel-gazing -- feel free to skip that part.)

In 1968, Grace performed on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in black face, and made a Black Panther fist at the end of her performance:

Power to the People?

In 1969, while performing "We Can Be Together" on the Dick Cavett Show, she became the first person to say "m*therf*cker" on live network television.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Charles Portis

I have known some horses and a good many more pigs who I believe harbored evil intent in their hearts. I will go further and say all cats are wicked, though often useful. Who has not seen Satan in their sly faces?
(From his 1968 novel, True Grit.  October 29 is National Cat Day, and would be a very good day to adopt a cat from your local animal shelter.)

Tatum, the Official Cat of "2 or 3 lines"

Friday, October 28, 2011

Ivan Turgenev

During the operation . . . I sought those words with which I could convey to you the exact impression of steel breaking my skin and entering my flesh . . . like a knife slicing a banana.  

The hero of Turgenev's great novel, Fathers and Sons, strove to keep a clinical distance from his self, observing himself as he was dying from typhus in the same clinical way that a doctor might observe a dying stranger.  

Turgenev not only talked the talk, but also walked the walk: he remained awake during his own stomach surgery in order to observe the operation's progress, describing the experience to a fellow author with the words quoted above.

Turgenev was born on this date in 1818, when Russia still followed the Julian calendar.  His "New Style" birthday is November 9.

Ivan Turgenev

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Moises Rivas

He said, Mami, he loves you no matter what happens.  He loves you.

On September 11, 2001, 29-year-old Ecuadorean immigrant Moises Rivas called his wife, Elizabeth, after terrorists flew an American Airlines 767 into the north tower of the World Trade Center.  Moises worked as a chef at the Windows on the World restaurant, which occupied the north tower's 107th floor.

Elizabeth was at the laundromat when he called.  She rushed home after learning of the attacks and asked her daughter-in-law, Linda, if Moises had called.  Linda said he had, and told Elizabeth what he had said.  That was the last anyone heard from Moises.

Moises Rivas

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


I ball for real, y'all n*ggas is Sam Bowie

And with the third pick, I made the earth sick
M.J., him Jay, fadeaway perfect
From "Hola' Hovito," which was the 7th track on his 6th studio album, The Blueprint (which just happened to have been released on September 11, 2001).

The first pick of the 1984 NBA draft was Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon, who appeared in 12 All-Star games and was the NBA MVP for the 1993-94 season.  

The second pick was Sam Bowie, who made the all-rookie team, but played in only 63 games over the next four seasons.  (He had five leg surgeries during his career.)

The Bowie pick looked really bad because the third pick that year was Michael Jordan, a six-time NBA MVP who has the best career points-per-game average (30.1)  in NBA history.  (As Jay-Z notes, his fadeaway jumper was pretty perfect.)

On this date in 1984, Michael Jordan played his first NBA game.  His Chicago Bulls beat the Washington Bullets, 109-93.  

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Genghis Khan

Happiness lies in conquering one's enemies, in driving them in front of oneself, in taking their property, in savoring their despair, in outraging their wives and daughters.
Quoted in Witold Rodzinski's The Walled Kingdom: A History of China (1979).  I guess it all depends on your point of view -- one man's meat is another man's poison, and one man's bad romance is another man's good romance.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Daniel Webster

There are men, in all ages, who mean to exercise power usefully; but who mean to exercise it. They mean to govern well; but they mean to govern. They promise to be kind masters; but they mean to be masters.

From a 1837 speech.

Daniel Webster was born in New Hampshire in 1782, and was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives for the first of two terms when he was only 31.  He later moved to Massachusetts, where he was a two-term Congressman before being elevated to the U.S. Senate.  While serving his third term as a Senator, he was appointed Secretary of State in 1841.  After one more term in the Senate, he was appointed Secretary of State for a second time, and served in that capacity until he died on this date in 1852.

Webster was also the leading constitutional lawyer of his generation, appearing before the Supreme Court to argue eight major constitutional cases.  Stephen Vincent Benet wrote a famous short story ("The Devil and Daniel Webster") in which Webster persuaded a jury chosen by the devil to release his client, a hard-luck farmer, from a contract in which he agreed to sell his soul for seven years of prosperity.  

Despite the words quoted above, Webster also meant to exercise power, govern, and be a master -- he ran for President three times as a Whig, but never won the party's nomination.  He was offered the Vice-Presidency twice but declined both times, saying that "I do not propose to be buried until I am really dead and in my coffin."

Daniel Webster

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Ellie Greenwich

When I was a little girl I had a rag doll 
The only doll I’ve ever owned 
Now I love you just the way I loved that rag doll 
But only now my love has grown . . .
Do I love you?  My, oh my! 
River deep, mountain high

From "River Deep, Mountain High," which she, her husband Jeff Barry, and legendary producer Phil Spector co-wrote for Ike  and Tina Turner.

Ike and Tina's 1966 recording of the song -- it featured 21 session musicians and 21 backup singers, but not Ike -- was a big hit in England, but flopped in the U.S.  Go figure.  

Ellie Greenwich was born on this date in 1940.  She was almost 22 when she married Jeff Barry, and together they wrote many memorable pop songs, including "Be My Baby," "Baby, I Love You," "Then He Kissed Me," "Da Doo Ron Ron," "Hanky Panky," "Do Wah Diddy Diddy," "Chapel of Love," "The Leader of the Pack," and "I Can Hear Music."  

Here's Tina Turner performing "River Deep, Mountain High" in 1973.  If there's ever been a woman sexier than Tina, I'd like to meet her.  (On second thought, I had a heart attack last year -- so scratch that idea.)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

William Miller

Some are tauntingly enquiring, "Have you not gone up?"  Even little children in the streets are shouting continually to passersby, "Have you a ticket to go up?" 

Based on his study of the book of Daniel (especially Daniel 8:14), a 19th-century American preacher named William Miller concluded in 1818 that the Second Coming of Jesus Christ would occur sometime during 1844.  Click here for an explanation of his reasoning.  Another preacher later predicted that the exact date of the Second Coming would be October 22, 1844.  

As that date approached, thousands of Miller's followers gave away their possessions and waited for the Savior's coming, at which time the righteous dead would be resurrected and together with the righteous living would ascend into heaven.  When Jesus did not appear on October 22, the day became known as the "Great Disappointment."

One group of Millerites later concluded that October 22, 1844 was not in fact the prophesied date for the Second Coming, but rather the date of an important heavenly event.  That group eventually became the Seventh-day Adventist Church, which now has a worldwide membership of about 16 million members.  Their interpretation of the "Great Disappointment" forms the basis for that denomination's unique doctrine of "investigative judgment."  Click here to learn more about that doctrine.

A Seventh-day Adventist poster

Friday, October 21, 2011

Saul Bellow

The past is no good to us.  The future is full of anxiety.  Only the present is real -- the here-and-now.  Seize the day.
(From his 1956 novel, "Seize The Day."  Bellow won the Nobel Prize in Literature on this date in 1976.)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Bill Dickey (Mickey Mantle)

You guys got to see this kid we have in camp. Out of Class C ball, hits 'em both ways -- five-hundred feet both ways! You've got to see him.

Bill Dickey, a Hall of Fame catcher who spent his entire 19-year playing career with the Yankees, was a coach for the team when he saw Mickey Mantle for the first time during spring training in 1951.

Mantle had spent the 1950 season with the Class C Joplin Miners.  (In those days, Class D was the lowest minor-league classification.)  Mantle hit .383 with 26 HR and 136 RBI as the Miners dominated their competition, finishing the year with a 90-46 record.  

On Opening Day 1951, the 19-year-old Mantle was in the starting lineup for the Yankees, playing right field and batting 3rd (behind Hall of Famer Phil Rizzuto and ahead of HOFers Joe DiMaggio and Yogi Berra). 

Mickey Mantle was born on this date in 1931.

Mantle as a Joplin Miner

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Brian Eno

Send for an ambulance 
Or an accident investigator
He's breathing like a furnace
So I'll see you later, alligator
He'll set the sheets on fire
Mmm, quite a burning lover . . .
You have to make the choice between 
The Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch and me
From Eno's 1974 album, Here Come the Warm Jets.

The "Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch" was A. W. Underwood, an African-American man from Paw Paw, Michigan, who supposedly had pyrokinetic abilities.

From Dr. L.C. Woodman's 1882 letter to the Michigan Medical News:

I have a singular phenomenon in the shape of a young man living here, that I have studied with much interest. . . . [H]is gift is that of generating fire through the medium of his breath, assisted by manipulations with his hands. He will take anybody's handkerchief, and hold it to his mouth, and rub it vigorously with his hands while breathing on it, and immediately it bursts into flames and burns until consumed.

Dr. Woodman claimed in the letter to have performed comprehensive testing to verify Underwood's powers.  Click here to read his entire report.  Skeptics later suggested that Underwood would hide a small piece of phosphorus in his mouth, which he would spit out into the handkerchief while pretending to blow on it.  The heat from his breath and his rubbing his hands together would ignite the phosphorus, which burns at about 85 °F.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Louis C.K.

When you get married, you go "Holy sh*t, I can't leave now." . . . Then you have a kid and you go, "Holy sh*t, I could have left!"

Louis C.K. -- his real name is Louie Szekely -- is a standup comedian who is the creator, writer, director, and star of the FX comedy, "Louie."  And yes -- he's divorced in real life as well as on his show. 

(Parental discretion advised . . .)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Merle Travis (Tennessee Ernie Ford)

Well, if you see me comin', better step aside
A lot of men didn't, and a lot of men died
One fist of iron, the other of steel
If the right one don't get you, the left one will 
You load sixteen tons and what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt
From his 1946 song, "Sixteen Tons," which was a huge hit for Tennessee Ernie Ford in 1955.  The song was #1 on the country music charts for 10 weeks, and #1 on the pop charts for eight weeks.  

Other musicians who recorded or performed this song included Frankie Laine, the platters, Elvis Presley, Bo Diddley, Stevie Wonder, Tom Jones, Johnny Cash, Eric Burdon, and crazy Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich.

Travis's father was a Kentucky coal miner who used to say that he was "another day older and deeper in debt" when he came home at night.

Tennessee Ernie Ford died on this date 20 in 1991 -- exactly 36 years after his recording of "Sixteen Tons" was released.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Oscar Wilde

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
From his play, Lady Windemere's Fan (1892).  These words were quoted in the song "Message of Love," which was released by the Pretenders in the U.S. in 1981.

Wilde was one of the most quotable authors of all time -- he had an aphorism for every occasion.  

Here's another Wilde quote:  "Most modern calendars mar the sweet simplicity of our lives by reminding us that each day that passes is the anniversary of some perfectly uninteresting event."  Which reminds me -- Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Willis Wilde was born on this date in 1854.  

Other notable people born on October 16 include lexicographer Noah Webster, David Ben-Gurion (the first Prime Minister of Israel), playwright Eugene O'Neill, Irish revolutionary Michael Collins, Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha, actress Angela Lansbury, Watergate figure Charles Colson, "Blonde in the T-Bird" and infomercial star Suzanne Somers, cougar-loving Tim Robbins, basketball great Sue Bird, and my daughters.  

Saturday, October 15, 2011


Either there are Greeks in hiding, 
Concealed by the wood,
Or it’s been built as a machine 
To use against our walls . . .
Or it hides some other trick: 
Trojans, don’t trust this horse
Whatever it is, I’m afraid of Greeks
Even those bearing gifts.

From A. S. Kline's translation of Virgil's Aeneid.

The Aeneid is the national epic of Rome -- it's one part Iliad and one part Odyssey.  Its opening line -- "Arma virumque cano" ("Of arms and the man I sing") gave George Bernard Shaw the title for his 1894 play, Arms and the Man.

Virgil (which is short for Publius Vergilius Maro) was born on this date in 70 B.C. 

From the movie "Troy" (2004)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Paul Verlaine

Moi qui ai connu Rimbaud, je sais qu'il se foutait pas mal si "A" était rouge ou vert. Il le voyait comme ça, mais c'est tout.
(I, who knew Rimbaud, know that he really didn't give a damn whether "A" was red or green. He saw it like that, but that's all.)

From a letter written by Paul Verlaine to fellow poet Pierre Louÿs, referring to Arthur Rimbaud's poem, "Voyelles," which was the subject of 2 or 3 lines yesterday.  (We're skipping "Rap Friday" this week.  Actually we're skipping it all month.) 
As previously noted, Rimbaud moved to Paris at the invitation of symbolist poet Paul Verlaine (who had a pregnant wife at the time) just before his 17th birthday.  The two poets had a short and torrid affair and consumed mass quantities of absinthe and hashish.  After moving to London together, the two quarreled constantly and Verlaine returned to Paris after a few months.  

Shortly thereafter, he had a change of heart, telegraphed Rimbaud, begging the younger poet to meet him in Brussels, which Rimbaud quickly agreed to do.  The reunion went badly and Verlaine shot Rimbaud in the left wrist.  Verlain was later sentenced to two years in prison, where he converted to Catholicism.  Verlaine later descended into drug addiction, alcoholism, and poverty, and he died in 1896, when he was 51.  

This is all very French, don't you think?

Paul Verlaine drinking absinthe in Paris

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Arthur Rimbaud

A noir, E blanc, I rouge, U vert, O bleu: voyelles,
Je dirai quelque jour vos naissances latentes:
[Black A, white E, red I, green U, bleu O: vowels
Someday I'll reveal the secret of your birth.]
From Arthur Rimbaud's Alexandrian sonnet, "Voyelles" ("Vowels"), which he wrote in 1870 or 1871 but which was not published until 1883.  (The translation is by Holly Tannen.)  I have no idea why the U comes before the O -- some crazy French thing, I'm sure.

The lines of a poem written using the Alexandrian meter consists of two half-lines of six syllables each.  (That is very different from saying that a Alexandrian poem consists of lines with twelve syllables each.)  The break between the half-lines -- that is, the break between the sixth and seventh syllables -- should be a major syntactic break. 

Rimbaud, who was a born in 1854, was a precocious student who published his first poem when he was only 15.  He moved to Paris at the invitation of symbolist poet Paul Verlaine just before his 17th birthday.  Rimbaud stopped writing poetry before he turned 21 and became a businessman.  He died of cancer when he was 37.

It's "French-day the 13th," and all this is about as French as it gets.  

So are you impressed that I was able to figure out how to make each vowel the right color?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Christopher Columbus

I should not proceed by land to the east, as is customary, but by a westerly route, in which direction we have hitherto no certain evidence that any one has gone.
From an August 3, 1492 diary entry.

On this date in 1492, Italian explorer Christopher Columbus (his name in Italian was Cristoforo Colombo) landed on an island in the Bahamas, which the natives called Guanahani and which he named San Salvador.  No one knows exactly which of the 29 islands or 667 cays that make up the Bahamas was the one that Columbus first landed on.

Columbus made four voyages to the New World between 1492 and 1502.  He explored Cuba, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Dominica, Antigua, Nevis, St. Kitts, Trinidad, Tobago, Grenada, Martinique, and many other Caribbean islands, as well as parts of Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Monsters of Folk

Then I fell in love with identical twins
That lived 34 summers between the two of them
I gave one my ego, I gave one my id
From their 2009 song, "Man Named Truth."  I'll let you do the math.  (Obviously, the superego did not come into play.)

So why is this being posted on "Bad Romance Tuesday?"  Seventeen-year-old identical twins sounds like about as good a romance as a guy can imagine.

Unless you happen to be the father of those twins, of course.     

Monday, October 10, 2011

Gary P. Nunn

Even London Bridge 
Has fallen down
And moved to Arizona
From his song, "London Homesick Blues," which was the last track on Jerry Jeff Walker and the Lost Gonzo Band's 1973 album, Viva Terlingua!

Before he hooked up with Walker, Nunn had been a pharmacy major at the University of Texas at Austin.  That may have been as important a reason for his invitation to join the band as his musical skills.  

When I was a law student in Boston, listening to this song would virtually paralyze me with homesickness for Texas (although Texas wasn't really my home).  Boston's not London, of course, but they are just about equally foreign to Texans. 

London Bridge, which was built to span the River Thames in 1831, was dismantled in 1967 and moved to Lake Havasu City, Arizona.  It opened to traffic on this date in 1971.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

F. Scott Fitzgerald

"Who is he anyhow, an actor?" . . .
"No, he's a gambler." Gatsby hesitated, then added cooly: "He's the man who fixed the World Series back in 1919." 
"Fixed the World Series?" I repeated. 
The idea staggered me.  I remembered, of course, that the World Series had been fixed in 1919, but if I had thought of it at all I would have thought of it as something that merely happened, the end of an inevitable chain. It never occurred to me that one man could start to play with the faith of fifty million people -- with the singlemindedness of a burglar blowing a safe. 
From The Great Gatsby.  The character that Gatsby is speaking of was based on Arnold Rothstein, a New York gambler who was the kingpin of the so-called "Jewish mafia" and the brains behind the conspiracy to fix the 1919 World Series.

On this date in 1919, the Chicago White Sox -- known to baseball fans ever since as the "Black Sox" -- lost the eighth and deciding game of the Series to the Cincinnati Reds, 10-5.  (The World Series was a best-of-nine contest in 1919, 1920, and 1921, before reverting to the more familiar best-of-seven format in 1922.)

Rumors that the Series had been fixed dogged the White Sox throughout the 1920 season, and a grand jury was convened to investigate in September of that year.  Although the players who were accused of conspiring with gamblers to throw the Series were acquitted by a Chicago jury in August 1921, the newly appointed commissioner of baseball -- the former federal judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis -- banned the eight Black Sox from organized baseball for life.

Chick Gandil, Black Sox ringleader

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Walter Lord

It would be nice to say the rich people, the fancy people, all behaved like bastards and the poor slobs all came through like heroes. But as a matter of fact, sometimes the poor slobs behave like slobs and the great, noble, privileged characters come off very well, indeed. 
From a 1981 interview with Lord about A Night to Remember (1955), his best-selling book about the sinking of the Titanic, which I recall as being one of the most compelling books in the Joplin Public Library.

Walter Lord was born on this date in 1917.  He was a graduate of Princeton and Yale Law School, and also wrote best-selling popular histories on Pearl Harbor, the Battle of Midway, the Battle of the Alamo, the War of 1812, and the Peary expedition to the North Pole.  

Walter Lord in 1958

Friday, October 7, 2011

Alice in Chains

I have been guilty
Of kicking myself in the teeth
I will speak no more
Of my feelings beneath
Down in a hole, feelin' so small
Down in a hole, losin' my soul

(Today is "National Depression Screening Day," and free depression screenings are available in many locations throughout the United States.  See you there!)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Dashiell Hammett

When a man's partner is killed, he's supposed to do something about it.  It doesn't make any difference what you thought of him.  He was your partner and you're supposed to do something about it.

From his 1930 novel, The Maltese Falcon.  These lines are spoken by private eye Sam Spade, who is played by Humphrey Bogart in the classic 1941 movie adaptation of Hammett's novel. 

Spade's partner, Miles Archer, was played by Jerome Cowan, who was born on this date in 1897.  Cowan also played the district attorney who prosecuted Santa Claus in Miracle on 34th Street.

Mary Astor, Humphrey Bogart, Jerome Cowan

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Chief Joseph

It is cold, and we have no blankets; the little children are freezing to death.  My people, some of them, have run away to the hills, and have no blankets, no food.  No one knows where they are — perhaps freezing to death.  I want to have time to look for my children, and see how many of them I can find.  Maybe I shall find them among the dead.  Hear me, my Chiefs! I am tired; my heart is sick and sad.  From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.

When he was unable to persuade the U.S. government to allow his tribe to remain on their land in the Wallowa Valley in northeastern Oregon, the magnificent Chief Joseph led his tribe of 800 Nez Perce Indians on a 1300-mile journey across Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana, fighting 13 battles and outmaneuvering 2000 American cavalrymen for over three months in hopes of reaching the Canadian border.  

The Nez Perce, who were within 40 miles of their goal, were without food and blankets when the 7th Cavalry caught up to them in what is now Blaine County, Montana.  After a five-day battle during freezing weather, Chief Joseph -- his real name was Hinmaton-Yalaktit, which means "Thunder Rolling Down the Mountain" -- surrendered to Colonel Nelson Miles on this date in 1877.  His surrender marked the end of the last great campaign between an Indian nation and the U.S. government.

Chief Joseph

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Laurence Hope

Pale hands I loved beside the Shalimar,
Where are you now?  Who lies beneath your spell?
Whom do you lead on Rapture's roadway, far,
Before you agonize them in farewell . . .
Pale hands, pink tipped, like Lotus buds that float
On those cool waters where we used to dwell,
I would have rather felt you round my throat,
Crushing out life, than waving me farewell!

"Laurence Hope" was the pseudonym of Adela Florence Nicolson, who was born in England but moved to India when she was 16 to join her father, a British army colonel who was stationed there.  When she was 24, she married another British colonel who was twice her age.  After his death during prostate surgery, she committed suicide by taking poison on this date in 1904.  She was only 39.

Her poems, which are written in the style of Indian and Persian poets, are typically about unrequited love and often involve the death of a heartbroken lover.  She was extremely popular in the early 20th century -- Thomas Hardy was a big fan -- but is almost forgotten today.

In 1902, Amy Woodforde-Finden set four of Nicolson's poems to music, including "Kashmiri Song" (which was published in 1901).  Interestingly, nearly all of the many recordings of this song are by male singers.  

Monday, October 3, 2011

James Herriot

I have long held the notion that if a vet can't catch his patient there's nothing much to worry about.
From his 1974 book, Vet in Harness.  James Alfred Wright (who wrote under the pen name "James Herriot") was born of this date in 1916.  After serving in the Royal Air Force in World War II, Wright practiced veterinary medicine in Thirsk, a small market town in Yorkshire, England.  He didn't write his first book until he was 53, but his semi-autobiographical books -- which included All Things Bright and Beautiful and All Creatures Great and Small -- were beloved by millions of readers.

James Alfred Wright

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Don McLean

And the three men I admire most 
The Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost 
They caught the last train for the coast 
The day the music died 
Don McLean's magnum opus, "American Pie," reached #1 on the singles charts not only in the United States, but also in Australia, Canada, Finland, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.  It reached only #8 in France.  (I keep trying to give the French a break, but it's hard.)

I'm not going to try to explain what "American Pie" means -- you can find a virtually infinite number of articles discussing it on the internet.  Click here to read just one of them (which comes from the Harvard University Center for Astrophysics website).

Today is Don McLean's 66th birthday.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

William Ralph Inge

It is useless for the sheep to pass resolutions in favor of vegetarianism while the wolf remains of a different opinion.
Inge (1860-1954) was an Anglican priest and a prolific author.  He was educated at Eton and King's College, Cambridge, and taught at both Oxford and Cambridge before he was chosen to be the Dean of St. Paul's Cathedral in London.  He wrote mostly on theology and philosophy, and was also an outspoken advocate of animal rights.

Today is World Vegetarian Day.

William Ralph Inge