Monday, May 25, 2015

ELM (part 5) - Jane Austen and Blackadder Austen Library ...

Welcome to another post on the thread:  ELM -  English, Literature, and Musings ....

Comedy can be a great teacher.

And the comedy Blackadder gave me an introduction to English history and literature as well as helping me recall what I had learned in school.  This BBC series and its specials followed the Blackadder line as it slithered through time from the Middle Ages to World War One.

Let's look at one these periods:

The Times of King George III

The reign of King George III was an interesting time in ...


The American colonies declared their independence in 1776; William Pitt, the younger, and William Wilberforce worked to abolish slavery in the British Empire, Napoleon met the Duke of Wellington in battle as well as his Waterloo.


The rise of the London coffee houses fostered creativity of such poets and writers - like Samuel Coleridge, Lord Byron, Percy Shelly. Dr. Samuel Johnson published his comprehensive Dictionary of the English Language.

And during the reign of King George III was ...

The Regency Period

In 1811, Parliament appointed the Prince of Wales, George Augustus Frederick, as Prince Regent to his father King George III.  (George III is remembered in children's history books as the mad king who lost America.)

But what does this have to do with Jane Austen?  She comes in at season 3 during the Regency period in the BBC comedy ....

Blackadder the Third 

An impoverished ex-aristocrat, Mr. Edmund Blackadder becomes the butler and personal servant to the Prince Regent, son of mad King George III. In this scene from Ink and Incapability, Dr. Samuel Johnson presents his English dictionary to the Prince Regent, while the butler makes sport of the pompous doctor.

Why is Prince George's butler so snarky to Dr. Johnson? If you are a writer, you may know the sting of being rejected, or worse totally ignored by a publisher.  So does Mr. Edmund Blackadder

Commenting to his dogsbody Baldrick, Mr. Blackadder laments about his novel, which he had sent to Dr. Samuel Johnson:

"Edmund: A Butler's Tale" by Gertrude Perkins.
A huge rollercoaster of a novel crammed with sizzling gypsies"

Blackadder :

He might at least have written back, but no, nothing, not even a 
"Dear Gertrude Perkins, 
 Thank you for your book.
Get stuffed.
Samuel Johnson."


Gertrude Perkins? 


Yes, I gave myself a female pseudonym.
Everybody's doing it these days: Mrs Radcliffe, Jane Austen 


Jane Austen's a man?


Of course.
A huge Yorkshireman with a beard like a rhododendron bush.

[reference: Blackadder s03e02 Episode Script | SS ]

Which brings us to the subject that during this period spawned ...

Women Authors of Classic Literature

The Regency period was a time when many women writers broke on the scene. Here are a few that are classics today:

*  The Bonte sisters - Charlotte, Emily, and Anne

     * Emily's Wuthering Heights (1847)
     * Charlotte's Jane Eyre (1847)
     * Anne's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848)

* Elizabeth Barrett - also known as Elizabeth Barrett Browning

   * author of Poems (1844)

* Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly - and wife of poet Percy Shelley.
    * author of Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus (1818)

* The works of Jane Austen (1811 - 1818)

  *  Northanger Abbey (1818)
  *  Sense and Sensibility (1811)
  *  Pride and Prejudice (1813)
  *  Mansfield Park (1814)
  *  Emma (1815)
  *  Persuasion (1818)

Back to Blackadder the Third, ...

The opening theme ends with the butler finding a Romance Regency paperback (it's an anachronism) with a Jane Austen-like episode title, such as seen here:

All the episode titles for season 3 are Jane Austen-esque, shades of Sense and Sensibilities:

* Dish and Dishonesty
* Ink and Incapablity
* Nob and Nobility
* Sense and Senility
* Amy and Amiability
* Duel and Duality

There is a good reason for this.

The real Prince George was a fan of Jane Austen and suggested she dedicate a book to him.  And when the son of King George III (and future King George IV) makes a suggestion, you had better do it.  And she did.  So Jane Austen dedicated Emma to the Prince Regent, with these words:

"To His Royal Highness the Prince Regent, this work is, by His Royal Highness's permission, most respectfully dedicated to His Royal Highness by His dutiful and obedient humble servant, the Author."

[reference: Regency Period of Jane Austen]

Comedy can be educational after all.

And for the last word   ...

“What a shame, for I dearly love to laugh.” 

― Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice



Monday, May 4, 2015

America's Story (part 18) - VE Day - 70 years ago

May 7, 1945

Germany surrendered unconditionally to the Allies:  Germany surrenders unconditionally to the Allies at Reims - May 07, 1945 -

And the following day ...

VE Day - May 8, 1945 

Both Great Britain and the United States celebrated VE Day, Victory in Europe DayVictory in Europe - May 08, 1945 -

This was the beginning of the end of World War Two, which was the most deadly war of the twentieth century.  But it would not officially end until after VJ Day, Victory over Japan Day, when Japan officially surrendered on September 2, 1945:  V-J Day - World War II -

One of the largest conflicts in recorded history

Some estimates put the casualties of World War Two over 70 million, making it the most deadly war in modern times: World War Two Statistics

World War Two was sparked by Hitler's invasion of Poland.  And the map in the video below give a summary of the conflicts in Europe:

For more information, check out:  World War II - Battles, Facts, Videos & Pictures -

As we approach the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, here is a tribute to our veterans, of which over 400,000 gave their lives:

70th Anniversary:

Here are two celebrations to mark this day:

* UK:   VE Day 70th anniversary - GOV.UK

* USA:  Friends of the National World War II Memorial, Washington DC - V-E Day 70th Anniversary


Thank you, veterans as well as those on the home front who also served.

And your sacrifices are part of

America's Story, 

to be continued ...


Other posts on this topic:

Dr. Who and World War Two - VE Day is coming. (2010)

A kiss immortalized in August 14, 1945 (2010)

Culture 101 (part 15) - Persevering and Prevailing during Dark Days (2014)


Other posts in this series:


Photo from:  wikipedia/Churchill

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Pray4America (part 18) - Australia Prays for America

wikipedia/valley forge

April 30 - May 6, 2015:

Australia Calls World to Pray Fast for 7 Days for USA as noted in the following press release:  Pray USA 2015 | National Day of Prayer & Fasting

Please check out one their prayers for America as shown in the clip below:

And the week's call for prayer and fasting ends on the eve of

May 7, 2015:

Designated in America as the National Day of Prayer

And Franklin Graham offers these guidelines:  How to Pray for America 

For this week, I offer this prayer:

Heavenly Father –

Thank you for our brothers and sisters in Christ in Australia as well as the rest of the world, who are burdened to pray for America.  We petition for Your mercy and grace as well Your blessing.

Forgive us, Lord, for our sins as we have lived our lives as if You don’t exist.  Give us a heart of repentance and send revival to our souls.  One by one, family by family, church by church, community by community, state by state, may revival sweep our nation and ignite another Great Awakening.

Bless all those who sacrifice and put themselves in harm’s way – home and abroad – to keep us safe.  Protect them from the enemy on all fronts. Give a special grace to all those who suffer and are persecuted for Your Name’s sake.

May we return to the faith of founders so that our nation may glorify Your Name.

In Jesus Name we pray,

Amen us rejoice as a nation

Give thanks to the Lord,
for He is good;
His love endures forever.
Psalm 118:1 (NIV)

Keep praying for America



Photo  from:  wikipedia/valley forge
             us rejoice as a nation

Saturday, April 11, 2015

America's Story (part 17) - The Last of the Doolittle Raiders

wikipedia/Doolittle Raider RL Hite blindfolded by Japanese 1942
Ever hear of the Doolittle Raiders?

On Sunday, March 29, 2015, one of the last of the Doolittle Raiders, Robert Hite, passed away at 95.   [reference:  Robert Hite, 95, Survivor of Doolittle Raid and Japanese Imprisonment, Dies - ]

And his obituary included the photo, shown above in this public domain picture.  And it can be found on wikipedia with the following description:

U.S. Army Air Force Lt. Robert L. Hite, blindfolded by his captors, is led from a Japanese transport plane after he and the other seven flyers were flown from Shanghai to Tokyo. Hite was co-pilot of crew 16 (B-25B s/n 40-2268 Bat out of Hell, 34th Bomb Squadron) of the "Doolittle Raiders". After about 45 days in Japan, all eight were taken back to China by ship and imprisoned in Shanghai. On 15 October 1942 three were executed, one died in captivity. The four others, including Hite, were liberated on 20 August 1945.

And here's some background to this story.

December 7, 1941  

The Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, caught America by surprise and the country was not prepared for war.

Below is an inspiring clip for the Pearl Harbor (2001), where FDR gathered his top advisers to come up with plan to strike back at the heart of Japan.

The Doolittle Raid

In the clip above, the scene ends with the entrance of Captain Francis S. "Frog" Low.  This submarine officer formed an ingenious strategy, launching army bombers from an aircraft carrier.  This gave birth to the Doolittle Raid.

* Spring of 1942

Those early days of the war, American moral was at its nadir.  Imperial Japanese forces in the Pacific had pushed American troops into retreat.  Many men were lost in the fall of the Philippines, culminating in the infamous Bataan Death March.

* April 18, 1942 

Meanwhile, Lt. Colonel James H. "Jimmy" Doolittle trained and lead a crew of 80 to strike back.  So on April 18, 1942, sixteen B-25s took off from the desk of the USS Hornet, 650 miles south of Japan.

Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo

Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo became the title of the book (1943) written by Ted Lawson and the movie (1944)  as shown in this clip below:

Those critical 30 seconds, April 18, 1942, was a great morale boost for America.  Though the war would not end for three more years, September 1945, the Doolittle Raid gave hope that we could win.

For a list of the 80 men that took part in the raid, 5 men in each of the 16 planes, check out:  Doolittle Raider 80 Brave Men

The sacrifice 

Here are the causalities of the brave men who suffered and gave their lives:

* One man, Faktor, was killed on a bail-out after the mission

* Two men, Fitzmaurice and Dieter, drown in a crash landing off the China coast

* Eight men, Hallmark, Meder, Nielsen, Farrow, Hite, Barr, Spatz, and DeShazer,
     were captured by the Japanese:
     *  Three men executed by firing squad:  Hallmark, Farrow, and Spatz
     *  One died as a POW from malnutrition, Meder
     *  The remaining four, Nielsen, Hite, Barr, and DeShazer,
          survived 40 months of prison,
          most of which was in solitary confinement
     *  And Hite lived till 95, passing away March 29, 2015

* Capt. Ted W. Lawson  survived his plane's crash off the coast of China.
    Though the underground rescued him, his injured leg had to be amputated.
     He lived to write the book, turned movie:  Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo

Now only two of the original Doolittle Raiders survive as I type (April 11, 2015):  retired Lt. Col. Richard Cole and Staff Sgt. David Thatcher.

* April 12, 1945

FDR would not live to see the allied victory over Europe or Japan, as he died on April 12, 1945.  But this Commander-in-Chief, struggling with a debilitating handicap, gave courage to the country to carry on, to take risks, to do what it takes to win, and to never give up during dark days.

And the Doolittle Raid is part of America's story.


Other posts in this series:


Photo from: wikipedia/Doolittle Raider RL Hite blindfolded by Japanese 1942

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Culture 101 (part 16) - 20th Century Blues


December 31, 2000

That was the last day of the 20th century and it ended 15 years ago and counting.

And I lived through almost half of it. Now this really dates me.  Come to think of it, if you count the birth of our nation as 1776, next year, I will have lived through a quarter of American history!


Let's go back to the turn of the century.  Not 2001.  The other century.

January 1, 1901

That was the day the 20th century started.  And thirty years later they were singing the blues, literally - the Twentieth Century Blues (1931), as shown below from the Noel Coward play, Cavalcade (1931).

The story follows a quintessential British family through the times of the early 20th century, including the death of Queen Victoria (1901), the sinking of the Titanic (1912), and World War One (1914-1918).  For a plot summary of the movie version, check out:  Cavalcade (1933) - Plot Summary - IMDb

20th Century Blues?

The first few decades of this century had its dark days.  And the rest of the first half of the century was not much brighter.  The Noel Coward play, Cavalcade, ended in 1929, which was the beginning of The Great Depression (1929-1939), the worst depression in recent history.  And that only ended with the coming of  World War Two (1939-1945), the worst war of the 20th century.

The last half of the 20th century?

We baby boomers have our songs, too, which continue these blues in the form of rock music. For example in the spirit of the 20th century,  Billy Joel composed and performed  We Didn't Start the Fire (1989) from his album Storm Front.  Its lyrics are chuck full of 40 years of history:

1949 - 1989

It hits the major wars, US presidents, world leaders, world tensions, the culture, leaps in science and technology, triumphs and angst of the age.

The 20th century has been quite a ride.  And the Billy Joel song gives a quick history lesson as well as a taste of the times.  And if you didn't catch it all,

* here is a link to the lyrics:   Billy Joel - We Didn't Start The Fire Lyrics | MetroLyrics   

* and facts:  We Didn't Start the Fire (Facts) History Summary from 1949-1989 by Ron Kurtus - Lessons Learned from History: School for Champions

Ballads, songs, music of an era bridges time and space.  And it keeps the culture of a people

going on and on and on ...


Previous posts in the Culture 101 series:

Culture 101 (part 1) - Reagan's Challenge (2012)

Culture 101 (part 2) - Easter Eucatastrophe (2012)

Culture 101 (part 3) - Paul Revere's Ride (2012)

Culture 101 (part 4) - Gold Diggers and the Great Depression (2012)

Culture 101 (part 5) - Blue Bloods and 9/11 (2012)

Culture 101 (part 6) - Gilligan's Island and Breast Cancer Awareness (2012)

Culture 101 (part 7) - Band of Brothers  (2013)

Culture 101 (part 8) - Snow White (2013)

Culture 101 (part 9) - Father Knows Best (2013)

Culture 101 (part 10) - Summertime! x 3 (2013)

Culture 101 (part 11) - Native American Osmosis (2013)

Culture 101 (part 12) - Thanksgivukkah (Thanksgiving and Hanukkah) (2013)

Culture 101 (part 13) - Coventry Carol (2013)

Culture 101 (part 14) - World War I - that Golden Summer of 1914 (2014)

Culture 101 (part 15) - Persevering and Prevailing during Dark Days (2014)


photo from: wikipedia/Chagall_IandTheVillage

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Numbers (part 1) - The Pi Day of the Century pie
March 14, 2015 at the time of 9:26 AM and 53 seconds will be a day and a moment that will not be repeated for another century.

3.14.15  9:26:53 

And March 14, or 3/14, has been known as Pi Day, as the irrational number, Pi, is ... you guessed it:
3.141592653 ... 

Where was this holiday when I was a kid?

Pi Day celebration was founded by Larry Shaw and it was first held in 1988 at the San Francisco Exploratorium.  The staff and the public marched about the circular space, then they ate fruit pies.  It also shares the date of March 14 with Albert Einstein's birthday.  [reference:]

But for this once in a century event:

*  Venders are ready for it.

Such as:  Pi Day T Shirts, Shirts & Tees | Custom Pi Day Clothing

* Teachers have a teachable moment for their students.

Such as:  How to Celebrate Pi Day in Your Classroom | Edutopia

*  Bakers are in on it, too.

Such as:  Celebrate Pi Day! March 14, 2015 | American Pie Council

And what better tribute to this irrational number than

* Calculating Pi with Pie:

And  may we have our Pi and eat it, too.  So on this delicious note, I introduce another thread -


And may the number of Numbers multiply in this new series.


For a brief history of Pi: 

Pi @


Photo from: wikipedia/Pi pie

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Pray4America (part 17) - Washington and Providence

Wikipedia/General George Washington at Trenton 
George Washington's Birthday - President's Day

February is the month when we celebrate President's Day.  At first, Washington's Birthday was observed on February 22nd, but the holiday was consolidated to honor the US presidents.  And for 2015,  this day will be observed on February 16.   [reference:  Washington's Birthday 2015 | Presidents Day 2015]

But as for the original reason for this holiday, let's take a look at ....

George Washington - the man

George Washington  often called the Father of our Country, and the few words of this post do not do the man justice.  The History Channel page has many great resources on his biography and impact on the founding of our nation:  George Washington - U.S. Presidents -

Since we're well into the third century of the founding of the United States of America, I have been troubled about at the direction we are going as a nation.  It seems there is little an average person can do.  Or is there?

Below is a clip of history changing prayers, including the preservation of George Washington:

With this story, I am heartened that prayer can change history.  But what if it had turned out differently?  What would happen if George Washington were killed before his time and the American colonist lost the war for independence?

What if America did not exist?

Below is a clip showing such a premise:

George Washington, as one of our founders, played a pivotal roll in creating the United States of America and many of the ideals that drew many to this country.  And America is more than just a country, it's still an ideal worth fighting for.

So this month of President's Day, please continue in the spirit of George Washington to ...

Pray for America 


Previous post on President's Day:

 3 birthdays, 3 presidents, 3 centuries, 3 defining wars ...  (2011)