Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Don Marquis created archy and mehitabel

It is the birthday of humorist Don Marquis (1878), who created archy and mehitabel, the cockroach with the soul of a free verse poet and his alley cat sidekick. The social commentary duo started as a newspaper column in The New York Evening Sun in 1916 and eventually were presented in numerous books, illustrated by George Herriman, who illustrated the cartoon Krazy Kat for Hearst newspapers. The archy and mehitabel series was part of popular culture during the rest of the teens and 1920s. Marquis claimed that he left paper in his typewriter at night and archy jumped on the keys to write his messages. He couldn’t operated the shift key so everything he wrote was in lowercase. Below is an example. Archy seems to have anticipated texting.

listen to me there have
been some doings here since last
i wrote there has been a battle
behind that rusty typewriter cover
in the corner
you remember freddy the rat well
freddy is no more but
he died game the other
day a stranger with a lot of
legs came into our
little circle a tough looking kid
he was with a bad eye

Monday, July 28, 2014

Happy birthday, novelist Malcolm Lowry

Top left: Lowry with first wife Jan Gabrial. Bottom left: Second wife, Margerie Bonner. Right: bottle of gin.
It is the birthday of English writer Malcolm Lowry (1909), whose novel Under the Volcano (1947) is considered one of the best novels of the 20th century. It tells the story of an alcoholic British consul stationed in a small town south of Mexico City in 1938. It begins on the Mexican Day of the Dead, November 2. It was based on his experiences with is first wife, Jan Gabrial, living in Cuernavaca, Mexico, in a vain attempt to save their marriage. Numerous publishers rejected the first version of the book. Lowry’s second wife, actress and writer Margerie Bonner, helped him revise it to the version that was finally published.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Happy birthday, Aldous Huxley

It is the birthday of English writer Aldous Huxley (1894), whose sci-fi novel, Brave New World (1932), anticipated the loss of individual identity in a mass production world. It is considered among the best English-language novels of the 20th century. Huxley moved to Hollywood in 1937, and wrote the screenplay for MGM’s Madame Curie. He also contributed to 20th Century Fox’s 1943 production of Jane Eyre but filmmaking’s frenetic pace didn’t suit him and he returned to writing for print. However, he continued to live in Hollywood until his death in 1963. He became a friend of Swami Prabhavananda and immersed in spiritualism and psychedelic drugs. He died on the same day as C.S. Lewis and John F. Kennedy. Writer Peter Kreeft’s novel Between Heaven and Hell: A Dialog Somewhere Beyond Death with John F. Kennedy, C.S. Lewis, and Aldous Huxley (1982), features a conversation between the three men about Jesus.

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