Christmas Carols with Ghosts of Charles Dickens

On 19 December 1843 a novella by English author Charles Dickens published by Chapman & Hall. This was A Christmas Carol!

Everyone knows the story that tells of sour and miserly Ebeneezer Scrooge’s conceptual, ethical, and emotional transformation resulting from supernatural visits from Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come. The novella met with instant success and critical acclaim.

The book was written and published right on time when in early Victorian era Britain, was born both strong nostalgia for old Christmas traditions and a beginning of new practices such as Christmas trees and greeting cards.

Dickens’s sources for the tale appear to be many and varied but are mainly the embarrassing experiences of his childhood, his compassion for the poor, and various Christmas stories and fairy tales.

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A Christmas Carol remains popular until today, has never been out of print, and has been adapted to film, stage, opera, and other media multiple times.

Dickens’ Carol was one of the greatest inspirations in revitalizing the old Christmas traditions of England. It brings to the reader images of light, joy, warmth and life and at the same time it brings strong and remarkable images of darkness, hopelessness, coldness, sadness and death. Scrooge himself is the personification of misery but is followed by the renewal of life, so too is Scrooge’s cold, pinched heart restored to the innocent goodwill he had known in his childhood and youth.

A Christmas Carol was published 27 years before the author’s death. When Dickens died on June 9, 1870, his obituary in The New York Times said “He was incomparably the greatest novelist of his time.”

We get into festive spirit with the most famous Christmas book of all time!

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Happy birthday Mr. Steven Spielberg!

As today December 18, in 1946 a man that he finally became a symbol in the movie history was born; Ladies and Gentlemen we present you through paper memorabilia Mr. Steven Spielberg!

lobby_cardsIt’s really hard to talk about a living legend. In that case we say just a few words for his early life and we “shoot” some paper memorabilia to show to you very few of the famous and unforgettable moment he gave and still giving us this extraordinary director.

Spielberg was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, to a Jewish family. His mother, Leah Adler was a restaurateur and concert pianist, and his father, Arnold Spielberg was an electrical engineer involved in the development of computers. He spent his childhood in Haddon Township, New Jersey, where he saw one of his first films in a theater. In 1958 as a boy scout director he fulfilled a requirement for the photography merit badge by making a nine-minute 8 mm film entitled The Last Gunfight. As a teenager, Spielberg made amateur 8 mm “adventure” films with his friends, the first of which he shot at the Pinnacle Peak Patio restaurant in Scottsdale. He charged admission (25 cents) to his home films (which involved the wrecks he staged with his Lionel train set) while his sister sold popcorn.

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Well… a brilliant mind back then. Even more nowadays!

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We experienced tremendous moments through his amazing cinematography. We hope there is more to come! Thank you Mr. Spielberg and …happy birthday!

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The first successful flight by the Wright brothers

On 17 December, in 1903 an essential achievement occurred for the future of the humanity: the first successful flight of the Wright Flyer, by the Wright brothers.

The Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur, were two Americans inventors, and aviation pioneers who were credited with inventing and building the world’s first successful airplane and making the first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight, on today’s date in 1903. Although not the first to build and fly experimental aircraft, the Wright brothers were the first to invent aircraft controls that made fixed-wing powered flight possible.

In camp at Kill Devil Hills in North Carolina, they suffered weeks of delays caused by broken propeller shafts during engine tests. After many flight test and repairs, the Wrights finally took to the air on December 17, 1903, making two flights each from level ground into a freezing headwind gusting to 27 miles per hour (43 km/h). The first flight, by Orville, of 120 feet (37 m) in 12 seconds, at a speed of only 6.8 miles per hour (10.9 km/h) over the ground, was recorded in a famous photograph that we show underneath.

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Orville Wright’s wrote for the final flight of the day:

“Wilbur started the fourth and last flight at just about 12 o’clock. The first few hundred feet were up and down, as before, but by the time three hundred ft had been covered, the machine was under much better control. The course for the next four or five hundred feet had but little undulation. However, when out about eight hundred feet the machine began pitching again, and, in one of its darts downward, struck the ground. The distance over the ground was measured to be 852 feet; the time of the flight was 59 seconds. The frame supporting the front rudder was badly broken, but the main part of the machine was not injured at all. We estimated that the machine could be put in condition for flight again in about a day or two.”

Today we fly in a few hours in the other side of the globe. Just because of Wright brothers…

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Gustave Eiffel, his Tower and the Statue of Liberty

On 15 December, in 1832 an extraordinary French civil engineer and architect was born: this was Alexandre Gustave Eiffel.

Eiffel was a graduate of the École Centrale des Arts et Manufactures of Paris, and he made a name with various bridges for the French railway network, most famously the Garabit viaduct.

He is best known for the world-famous Eiffel Tower, built for the 1889 Universal Exposition in Paris, France. The design of the Eiffel Tower was originated by Maurice Koechlin and Emile Nouguier, who had discussed ideas for a centerpiece for the Expo. And since May 1884 that Koechlin, working at his home on an outline drawing of their scheme until the beginning of 1886 very little happened. On 12 May of the same year a commission was set up to examine Eiffel’s system and its competitors and on 12 June it presented its decision, which was that only Eiffel’s proposal met their requirements. After some arguments about the exact site for the tower, a contract was signed on 8 January 1887.

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The tower had been a subject of some controversy, attracting criticism both from those who did not believe it is feasible and from those who objected on artistic grounds and looks.

But before that, in 1881 Eiffel was contacted by Auguste Bartholdi who ha a need of an engineer to help him to realize another huge order, this time from the other side of the Atlantic, the Statue of Liberty. Eiffel was nominated because of his already involvement with wind stresses. Eiffel invented a structure consisting of a four-legged pylon to support the copper sheets that they made up the body of the statue. The entire statue was created at the Eiffel works in Paris before being pull to pieces and shipped to the United States.

Eiffel is a star through his extraordinary engineering works he accomplished in his time. This tower finally became the symbol of Paris and a huge touristic attraction for the whole France! Let’s go to the top guys and gals!

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On Wednesday for a Saturday Night Fever!

On Wednesday and not on Saturday 14 December, in 1977 premiered the big hit dance film Saturday Night Fever!

saturdayNightFevermickeyThe film was directed by John Badham and starring John Travolta as Tony Manero, an adolescent young man whose weekends are spent visiting a local Brooklyn discotheque (night club of the time); While in the disco, Tony is the king.

This dance care-free weekend helped Tony to forget the problems of his real life. No job, racial pulls in the local community, his links with the neighborhood gang of macho friends, and of course the continued fights with his uncooperative and backbiting parents.

This film because of its huge commercial success, was the reason of popularizing disco music around the world and made Travolta a big name. The soundtrack of the film featuring disco songs by the Bee Gees, is one of the best-selling soundtracks of all time.

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The film also showcased new “entries” in the film music culture: symphony-orchestrated melodies, haute-couture clothing, and beautiful choreography. The story is based upon a 1976 New York magazine article by British writer Nik Cohn. In the late 1990s, Cohn acknowledged that the article had been fabricated.

Let’s dance folks in the Bee Gees rhythm! On a Saturday night of course!

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An American in Paris by George Gershwin!

Some Parisian taxi horns were blowing on December 13, 1928 in New York! It was in the Carnegie Hall premiere of George Gershwin’s symphonic tone poem An American in Paris”.

Gershwin completed the orchestration on November 18, less than four weeks before the work’s premiere! He composed An American in Paris on commission from the New York Philharmonic. He scored the piece for the standard instruments of the symphonic orchestra plus celesta, saxophones, and automobile horns. That explains the Parisian taxi horns in premiere!

Gershwin on the original program notes, noting that: “My purpose here is to portray the impression of an American visitor in Paris as he strolls about the city and listens to various street noises and absorbs the French atmosphere.” And when the tone poem moves into the blues, he explains “our American friend … has succumbed to a spasm of homesickness.” But, “nostalgia is not a fatal disease.” The American visitor “once again is an alert spectator of Parisian life” and “the street noises and French atmosphere are triumphant.”

american_paris

Gershwin based An American in Paris on a melodic piece called “Very Parisienne”, written in 1926 on his first visit to Paris as a gift to his hosts, Robert and Mabel Schirmer. Gershwin explained in Musical America, “My purpose here is to portray the impressions of an American visitor in Paris as he strolls about the city, listens to the various street noises, and absorbs the French atmosphere.”

In 1951, MGM released the musical An American in Paris, featuring Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron. Winning the 1951 Best Picture Oscar and numerous other awards, the film was directed by Vincente Minnelli.

A part of the symphonic composition is also featured in the film starring Jack Nicholson As Good as It Gets, released in 1997.

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With few wise words Joe DiMaggio announced his retirement

“When baseball is no longer fun, it’s no longer a game, and so, I’ve played my last game.”

With these words Joe DiMaggio announced his retirement on December 11, 1951.

A three-time MVP winner and 13-time All-Star, DiMaggio is the only player to be selected for the All-Star Game in every season he played. During his thirteen years with the Yankees, the club won ten American League pennants and nine World Series championships. He is perhaps best known for his 56-game hitting streak (May 15 – July 16, 1941), a record that as of today still stands. DiMaggio was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1955.

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DiMaggio made his major league debut on May 3, 1936, batting ahead of Lou Gehrig. The Yankees had not been to the World Series since 1932, but they won the next four Fall Classics. In 1939, DiMaggio was nicknamed the “Yankee Clipper” by Yankee’s stadium announcer Arch McDonald, when he likened DiMaggio’s speed and range in the outfield to the then-new Pan American airliner.

In January 1937, DiMaggio met actress Dorothy Arnold. They married at San Francisco’s St. Peter and Paul Church on November 19, 1939, as 20,000 well-wishers jammed the streets. Their son, Joseph Paul DiMaggio III, was born at Doctors Hospital on October 23, 1941. In the September 1949 issue of SPORT magazine, Hank Greenberg said that DiMaggio covered so much ground in center field that the only way to get a hit against the Yankees was “to hit ’em where Joe wasn’t.” On February 7, 1949, DiMaggio signed a record contract worth $100,000 and became the first baseball player to break $100,000 in earnings.

joe-dimaggio

Marilyn Monroe? Yes of course! According to her autobiography, Marilyn Monroe originally did not want to meet DiMaggio, fearing that he was a stereotypical arrogant athlete! Their marriage was filled with “violence”. One typical forceful incident occurred immediately after the skirt-blowing scene in The Seven Year Itch, the very known Marilyn’s pose. The couple had a “yelling battle” in the theater lobby. A month later, she filed for divorce on grounds of mental cruelty. That was exactly 274 days after the wedding.

DiMaggio was a heavy smoker for much of his adult life. After a lung cancer operation he returned to his Florida home on January 19, 1999, where he died on March 8.

Joe, “Joltin’ Joe” or “The Yankee Clipper” was an american baseball hero. You can find tones of memorabilia about him. And people love them!

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