post

Happy Birthday, Shel Silverstein!

Happy Birthday, Shel Silverstein!Happy birthday to one of the world’s most beloved children’s book authors, Shel Silverstein!  Sheldon Allan Silverstein was born on September 25, 1930, in Chicago,Illinois, to Nathan and Helen Silverstein.

Growing up with his sister, Peggy, in Logan Square, a community northwest of Chicago, Shel pursued his two favorite pastimes, baseball and drawing.  As an avid White Sox fan, he hoped to one day join the team, but realizing early in his adolescence that he possessed no athletic ability, drawing became his singular passion.  As a student at Roosevelt High School, he tried his best to get the attention of girls—at first through his failed athletic ability, then through his art—both to no avail.  Concentrating on his drawings in solitude, Silverstein had no mentor to study under and freely developed his own style.

He studied art at the University of Illinois for a year before expulsion due to grades, transferred to Chicago of Fine Arts for a year, finally to study English at Roosevelt University where he cartooned for the student paper, The Torch.  He did not complete his education, however, as he was drafted into the Army during the Korean War.  In retrospect, Silverstein looked upon his college years with contempt, feeling he could have seen the world rather than waste it in school.

Shel further blossomed as a cartoonist—and a reporter—during his time in the Army with his work on the Pacific edition of Stars and Stripes, lampooning the military.  Still, this time help a special place in his heart and he credits it towards his artistic growth, when he also learned to play the guitar.

Upon returning home, he worked odd jobs, including a stint atComiskeyPark, while freelancing as a cartoonist before meeting Hugh Hefner.  Shel then worked as a cartoonist for Playboy in 1956 while reporting stories for them from around the globe.  After a severe car accident rendered him immobile, he spent his recovery time cartooning and composing music.

But perhaps the most serendipitous encounter arose when a close friend of Silverstein’s, Tomi Ungerer, introduced Shel to his editor at Harper & Row, Ursula Nordstrom.  Both Tomi and Ursula persuaded Silverstein to give writing children’s books a try.  The rest, as they say, is history.  Among his classic children’s book collections are The Giving Tree, which a publisher rejected for being “too short”, as well as Where the Sidewalk Ends, A Light in the Attic, and Runny Babbit.  Silverstein had never envisioned himself a children’s book writer and illustrator, with his darker humor and sardonic wit.  Yet both playful themselves out whimsically in his collections, whether walking a fine line or something more akin to a flying trapeze.

All in all, this artist led a rather unexpected career that ranged from cartooning for the military to working for Playboy, with eventually writing and illustrating award-wining children’s books, as well as playwriting and composing film scores.  It was a combination as eclectic as the man was talented.  Sadly, Shel left the world on May 10, 1999, inKey West,Florida.  However, his literary legacy lives on as his poetic humor continues to tickle funny bones and warm hearts around the world, both young and old.

shelsilverstein.com.

faculty.weber.edu/chansen/humanweb/projects/MeghanUng/biography.htm

super-childrens-books.com/shel-silverstein-biography.html

poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/104

Happy Birthday, Shel Silverstein!Happy Birthday, Shel Silverstein!Happy Birthday, Shel Silverstein!Happy Birthday, Shel Silverstein!Happy Birthday, Shel Silverstein!Happy Birthday, Shel Silverstein!

post

Happy Birthday Sandra Bullock!

Happy Birthday Sandra Bullock!It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t love Sandra Bullock. She’s managed to take on the role of America’s sweetheart without being flashy, annoying or fake. She is the quintessential woman everyone wants as their friend, boss, girlfriend, wife, drinking buddy, work-out partner…the list could go on forever. She has unmatched charisma on the big screen whether she’s starring in a romantic comedy or a serious drama. Her comedic characters are always funny, but never dumb, and her dramatic roles are authentic and relatable. And even though there have been a few professional bumps in the road – umm, hello Speed 2, Cruise Control and All About Steve – we forgive her because she’s not afraid to call herself out, which is just another reason we like her so much.

When she’s not on the big screen, Sandy is equally intriguing, spending a great deal of her time and money on important charitable causes. She recently donated $1 million to Japan Disaster Victims and has heavily donated to charities benefitting New Orleans after hurricane Katrina – most notably the Warren Easton Charter Foundation, which was formed to rebuild the hurricane-ravaged Easton High School. Although she’s called Austin, TX home for years, New Orleans is particularly special to Sandra as it is where her adopted son, Louis is originally from.

It’s not hard to believe that in high school, Sandra was a cheerleader and voted “most likely to brighten your day,” – a role she’s definitely lived up to. Here are a few more fun facts you may not know about Sandy…

–          Sandra is the daughter of a German opera singer and an American voice coach

–          She graduated from Washington-Lee High School where alumni also include Shirley MacLaine and Warren Beatty

–          One her first roles was for a television series based on the Melanie Griffith/Harrison Ford movie “Working Girl” in 1990.

–          Sandra took on the role for Speed 2 to help fund her own movie project, Hope Floats.

–          She donated $1 million to the American Red Cross after the September 11, 2001 attacks

–          First woman to win best and worst actress in the same year. Best Actress Academy Award for The blind Side; Worst Actress Razzie for All About Steve

–          It is reported that she has acupuncture procedures done 2-3 times a week to help maintain her weight and ageless complexion.

–          She reportedly hates musicals and has vowed never to participate in one.

Do you have a friend or family member that shares the same birthday as Miss Sandra? Don’t forget to send them a birthday ecard to wish them happy birthday!  Also, if you’re tired of remembering birthdays or managing a  birthday calendar, check out our free birthday reminder service – never feel the pressure of having to remember a birthday again!

Can you pick a favorite Sandra Bullock role or movie? Tell us in the comments section below.

Sources:

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000113/bio

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandra_Bullock

http://www.people.com/people/package/article/0,,20364464_20364811,00.html

http://www.biography.com/articles/Sandra-Bullock-9542453

http://www.warreneastoncharterfoundation.com/

Happy Birthday Sandra Bullock!Happy Birthday Sandra Bullock!Happy Birthday Sandra Bullock!Happy Birthday Sandra Bullock!Happy Birthday Sandra Bullock!Happy Birthday Sandra Bullock!

post

Happy Birthday, Henry David Thoreau!

Happy Birthday, Henry David Thoreau!“If a man does not keep pace with his companions,
perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.”

Walden by Henry David Thoreau

Happy birthday to Transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau!  The man who made Walden Pond famous by building a house on its shores and living there for over two years was born on July 12, 1817, inConcord,Massachusetts, to John and Cynthia Thoreau.

Christened “David Henry” in October 1817, Thoreau was named after a recently deceased uncle.  Excelling at academics, Thoreau attended both public and private schools inConcord.  He graduated from Harvard in 1837 and changed his name to “Henry David”.

Trying his hand first at teaching inConcord, he experienced a falling out with his superiors over student disciplinary issues.  Returning to his family’s home to work in his father’s pencil factory, Thoreau soon tried teaching again in aConcordschool his older brother, John, and he founded.  Successful for a few years, the school closed when John became severely ill and Henry subsequently felt overwhelmed.

Once again laboring in the family’s pencil factory, Thoreau was taken under the wing of neighbor and longtime friend Ralph Waldo Emerson, serving as his handyman while Emerson mentored him.  An embracer of Emerson’s Transcendental philosophy (placing spiritual concerns over material success), Thoreau became a writer and published essays and poems in The Dial, a Transcendental journal.  Needing privacy to work, Emerson gave Thoreau permission to build a house on the banks ofWalden Pond on land Emerson owned.  Thoreau lived there for over two years; during that time, he spent a night in jail for refusing to pay his poll tax.  That experience of imprisonment turned into his essay, “Resistance to Civil Government”, later famously renamed “Civil Disobedience”.

After leaving Walden Pond, Thoreau published Walden in 1854 to celebratory reviews and a new following.  Although never wealthy, he spent the rest of his days earning a modest income working in the pencil factory, as well as surveying, lecturing, and publishing essays.

Thoreau died in 1862 of tuberculosis, leaving behind volumes of unfinished work.  At his funeral, Emerson delivered a eulogy, noting Thoreau’s quest for knowledge, virtue, and beauty in nature.

Know someone who shares Henry David Thoreau’s birthday?  Send them a birthday ecard to wish them a happy and prosperous birthday.

http://www.psymon.com/walden/quotes.html

http://www.thoreausociety.org/_news_abouthdt.htm

http://www.walden.org/Thoreau

http://www.library.ucsb.edu/thoreau/thoreau_faq.html

Happy Birthday, Henry David Thoreau!Happy Birthday, Henry David Thoreau!Happy Birthday, Henry David Thoreau!Happy Birthday, Henry David Thoreau!Happy Birthday, Henry David Thoreau!Happy Birthday, Henry David Thoreau!

post

Happy Birthday, Helen Keller!

Happy Birthday, Helen Keller!“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched.  They must be felt with the heart.”

Helen Keller

Happy Birthday to the woman who overcame overwhelming odds afflicted at infancy and went on to live an abundantly rich life, inspiring the world.  Helen Adams Keller was born on June 27, 1880 in Tuscumbia, Alabamato Arthur H. Keller, an army captain and editor, and Kate Adams.

Born a healthy child, Helen contracted “acute congestion” (possibly scarlet fever or meningitis) at nineteen months, rendering her deaf and blind.  After many attempts to help her and several referrals later, Helen’s parents enlisted the help of Anne Sullivan, a recent graduate of the Perkins Institute for the Blind who was recommended by the school’s director, Michael Anaganos.

Wasting no time, Anne began working with Helen upon arrival to her family’s home.  SheHappy Birthday, Helen Keller! taught Helen “finger spelling”—sign language letters in the palm of her hand, starting with “doll.”  Initial lessons were marked by bouts of defiance toward Anne, interspersed with attempts at understanding her new language.  Helen would experience difficulty in making connections between word and object.   Subsequent temper tantrums would follow and become a regular occurrence until Anne remedied the situation by isolating the two of them in a small cottage on the family’s estate.  Shortly after their cocooned period together, a breakthrough occurred when Helen learned the word “water” from a pump just outside her home.  By the end of the day, Helen had learned over two dozen words.

As Helen grew up, attended different schools, and her story spread, she began to meet many famous figures from all walks of life, including Mark Twain, who dubbed Anne Sullivan, “The Miracle Worker.”  Anne stayed on as Helen’s companion, long after her lessons out of the unseen-unheard world were established, and helped translate Helen’s studies and lectures while they were atRadcliffCollege, where she graduated from cum laude in 1904.

Over time, Helen expanded her methods of communication, including touch-lip reading, typing, speech, and Braille, as well as finger-spelling.  She used her new found communication skills to write her first book, The Story of My life, with the help of Sullivan and future husband, John Macy. Happy Birthday, Helen Keller!

Sullivan’s health deteriorated over the years.  She lost her eyesight entirely in 1932, whereby Polly Thompson, Keller’s and Sullivan’s secretary, took over as Keller’s companion when Sullivan died in 1936.

Helen and Anne’s journey out of darkness was made into the classic film, The Miracle Worker, directed by Arthur Penn, starring Anne Bancroft as Anne and Patty Duke as Helen in award-winning roles. Happy Birthday, Helen Keller!

In sum, Helen Keller wrote twelve books, including The Story of My Life, The World I Live In, and Out of the Dark.

She died June 1, 1968 at the age of 87, less than a month shy of her birthday, having transformed her world and inspiring our own.

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”  Helen Keller

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helen_Keller

http://www.biography.com/articles/Helen-Keller-9361967?part=0

http://www.afb.org/section.asp?SectionID=1&TopicID=129

Happy Birthday, Helen Keller!Happy Birthday, Helen Keller!Happy Birthday, Helen Keller!Happy Birthday, Helen Keller!Happy Birthday, Helen Keller!Happy Birthday, Helen Keller!