Nov. 18, 1999
On the Grasshopper and Cricket
Poem: "On the Grasshopper and Cricket" by John Keats.
It's the birthday in Ottawa, Canada, 1939, of MARGARET ATWOOD. After getting her schooling at Radcliffe and Harvard here in the States, she went back to Canada to teach and write books: 19 poetry collections, 11 novels, a half-dozen short story collections, and two dozen screenplays and children's books.
On this day in 1928 the first sound-synchronized cartoon, Walt Disney's STEAMBOAT WILLIE starring Mickey Mouse, premiered in New York. Disney was 27 years old and had been at work for a couple years creating two other Mickey Mouse cartoons, Plane Crazy and Gallopin' Gaucho. But these were silent cartoons. When Al Jolson's The Jazz Singer came out in 1927 with sound, Disney scrapped those movies and made Steamboat Willie with music, sound effects and his own voice as Mickey.
It's JOHNNY MERCER's birthday, born in Savannah, Georgia, 1909, who never learned to read music, but wrote the lyrics for "On the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe," "In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening," "Moon River," and "Days of Wine and Roses" all Academy Award winning songs. He also founded Capitol Records in 1942.
It was on this day in 1883 that the United States and Canada adopted a system of STANDARD TIME ZONES. Time setting used to be a regional creation, as clocks were set by the sun's placement within a given region. But transcontinental railroad travel created a need for time to be standardized, and Canadian engineer Sandford Fleming devised the plan by which clock-time would change one hour for every 15 meridians of longitude. The next year, 1884, the meridian running through the London borough of Greenwich, was designated the center of the world's standard time zone system.
It's the birthday in 1836, London, of W.S. GILBERT, the lyricist-partner of Sir Arthur Sullivan who wrote the words to The Pirates of Penzance, H.M.S. Pinafore, Ruddigore, and all the other Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. He started off as a lawyer, writing humorous verses on the side and submitting them to London magazines signed "Bab." In 1870 he met Sullivan, who was an aspiring opera composer, and over the next 20 years they turned out about a dozen light operas that were the hit of the London musical season so popular that their producer had a theater specially built just for them, the Savoy.
It was on this day in 1820 that U.S. Navy Captain Nathaniel B. Palmer discovered the earth's 5th largest continent, ANTARCTICA. Palmer was only 21 years old and had been the captain of his own ship, the schooner Galina, for two years - a boat that he kept taking deeper into the South Sea looking for seals to hunt. He came across a broad, mountainous stretch of southern Antarctica that's now named for him, Palmer Land. Like the rest of Antarctica, it's buried in about 7,000 feet of ice.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®