Happy New Year and Auld Lang Syne

This may be the most beautiful, intensely romantic scene I have seen in any movie, from the tragic film Waterloo Bridge.

Vivien Leigh and Robert Taylor were so, so beautiful. I love the music, the dancing, and the musicians snuffing out the candles. No words are needed.


Happy New Year everyone!

A Classical Christmas

A beautiful medley of lovely Christmas music. Some of my very favorite classical and Christmas pieces:

0:00 Pathetique Sonata – 2nd Movement (Beethoven)
0:26 Silent Night
1:06 Interlude 1:19 Piano Concerto No. 21 – 2nd Movement (Mozart)
1:55 O Come All Ye Faithful (traditional Christmas hymn)
2:11 Piano Sonata in C Major – 1st Movement (Mozart)
2:25 Clarinet Concerto – (Mozart)
2:40 Angels From the Realms of Glory
3:01 Interlude

3:14 O Come, O Come Emmanuel
3:23 Interlude
3:33 Meditation from Thais (Massenet)
3:58 Ave Maria (Schubert)
4:29 God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
4:41 Interlude
4:48 Moonlight Sonata – 1st Movement (Beethoven)
5:05 Interlude
5:14 The First Noel
5:27 Interlude
5:36 Arioso (Bach)
6:08 Joy to the World
6:25 Ode to Joy/Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee (Beethoven/Van Dyke)
6:42 Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring (Bach)
6:50 Interlude
6:56 Deck the Halls
7:06 Unfinished Symphony (Schubert)
7:20 O Little Town of Bethlehem
7:34 Angels We Have Heard on High
7:56 What Child is This?
8:11 Interlude
8:23 Silent Night
8:29 Pathetique Sonata – 2nd Movement (Beethoven)
9:00 O Holy Night

Merry Christmas everyone!

The 100th Anniversary of the Crossword Puzzle

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On December 21, 1913 the first modern crossword puzzle, created by Arthur Wynne, was published in The New York World, one of many newspapers in New York City in that time. Wynne called it a “word-cross”, but the name was eventually changed because of a typesetting error.

The puzzle was based on earlier forms of puzzles, and was diamond-shaped. Crossword puzzles were successful almost from the beginning, and eventually became the famous square crossword puzzles we love today.

This weekend the Google Doodle is devoted to the crossword puzzle. There is a delightful article about it from the Washington Post here.
You can read about the history of crossword puzzles here, and an article about creating crossword puzzles in this excellent article from The Atlantic: Party Down: 100 Years of the Crossword Puzzle.

Ironically, The New York Times disapproved of crossword puzzles at first, but now The New York Times crosswords are celebrated as some of the most difficult.

There is a terrific blog devoted to The New York Times puzzles: Rex Parker Does the NY Times Crossword Puzzle. I heartily suggest a visit.

Downton Abbey — See It Again

Title: Downton Abbey, Limited Edition, Seasons 1-3, Original UK Edition
Cast: Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, etc.
Genre: Historical Drama
Written and Created By: Julian Fellowes
Format: DVD (Extras: Christmas Special, Highlands, Secrets of Highclere Castle) Year published: October 2013
Source: I purchased this set.

My husband and I are huge fans of Downton Abbey and we can’t wait until January when Downton Abbey starts again.

I just bought the Original U.K. “Limited Edition” version of the first 3 seasons. This box set also includes the documentary “Secrets of Highclere Castle.”

This is a wonderful set if you want to catch up on the series before Season 4 starts in January. We are thoroughly enjoying it. We are especially happy that this is the original U.K. edition, as some scenes were cut out of the American television showings.

The gorgeous costumes, the stunning settings, and the high drama between the denizens of Downton keep us riveted.

Of course, the series includes the marvelous Maggie Smith (The Dowager Countess). No other actor can deliver a put-down with such withering sarcasm, but still make you like her.

You can buy this wonderful set today:

Book Review: The Cat Who Came for Christmas by Cleveland Amory

Title: The Cat Who Came For Christmas Author: Cleveland Amory
Genre: Animals, Memoir
Format: Hardcover
Year Published: 1987
Source: I purchased this book many years ago.

Cleveland Amory’s The Cat Who Came For Christmas is the delightful holiday tale of Amory and his cat, Polar Bear.

It was Christmas Eve 1977 and Amory, a well known Boston Brahmin, society writer, and former TV Guide critic, had established The Fund for Animals, and was deeply involved in animal rights issues.

On a rescue mission, he meets Polar Bear, a stray cat who is living in deplorable conditions. Polar Bear immediately touches his heart in an unusual way. Amory loved all animals, but had never been owned by a cat before – he was a “dog man.”

But that cold Christmas Eve changed all of that. He seems to know instinctively that this small, half-starved creature will be important to him. Amory and Polar Bear were perfect for each other.

The book was a huge bestseller upon its original publication in 1987 and has been republished numerous times, with the most recent edition in October 2013.

The book can also be very funny as Amory tries to see things from a cat’s point of view. It is a sweet story and makes for wonderful Christmas reading.

The book was so popular that Amory wrote two sequels:

The Cat and the Curmudgeon, 1990

and The Best Cat Ever, 1993

Curmudgeon is about the continuing relationship between Amory and Polar Bear, especially after fame has struck.

The Best Cat Ever is actually mostly about Amory’s interesting life and not so much about Polar Bear, although it does have the very sad but inevitable conclusion to their enduring friendship. Amory passed away a few years later in 1998.

Or you can get all three volumes in one book, Cleveland Amory’s  Compleat Cat.

For some reason, these books are not available for Kindle or Nook – yet.

Vintage Library Posters, Part 1

The Federal Art Project ran from 1935 to 1943. This project was run through the New Deal Works Progress Administration Federal One, to encourage fine artists to create art during the Depression.

Many fine works of art were created during this time, by such top artists as Grant Wood and Thomas Hart Benton. You can see some of them here.

This program provided jobs for out-of-work artists and art was created for libraries, schools, and hospitals.

See more of them at The Library of Congress.

Here are some vintage library posters from the WPA Art Project in Chicago.

The posters included in this post were created by Arlington Gregg.

Please Accept My Humble Apologies

I want to apologize to anyone from a WordPress blog who commented on Sunday’s post. For some reason, I can’t seem to make comments on WordPress blogs anymore.

One of the blogs offered the option to comment through Google Plus. Google + refused to accept “Literary Lioness” as a real name, even though I used “Literary” as the first name, and “Lioness” as the last name. Gee, I wonder why that didn’t work. Hmmm. Right now I don’t want my real name associated with the blog, although I probably will in the future.

When will Google learn that forcing Google + on people won’t work? Twitter and Facebook became so successful not because anyone forced them into using it!

I then tried to comment with Gravatar but now it seems that Gravatar only works for WordPress blogs nowadays.

And when I just try to make any kind of comment on these WordPress blogs, it looks as if the comment was accepted, but they never appear! No explanation, either.

I’m mad at WordPress for making it so difficult to comment on their blogs! It never used to be a problem.

However . . .

I have seriously considered changing to WordPress.com anyway (the hosted version because I don’t think I have the technical know-how to self-host a blog at WordPress.org). Self-hosting to me would be a huge leap, and I find that WordPress has quite a high learning curve. I would also miss the Blogger Template Designer, which I can play with for hours!

Of course I’d have to give up my Google Friends gadget and I would not allowed to be able to have ads, but I have never made any money off of this blog anyway (except once), and that was never my intention when I started blogging.

I did a trial run recently and the posts transferred over perfectly. My big stumbling block now is I’m trying to figure out how to transfer the domain name over! I bought it through Google (or rather I “rent” it on a year-to-year basis), and I have no idea how to get the domain name over to WordPress.

Has anyone reading this made the switch from Blogger to WordPress? What are your opinions???

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

Right now, I am currently reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt on my Kindle.

I am also attempting to read some of the books I started within the past year but never finished, because I was distracted by certain events.

I was away from book blogging for awhile because the past few months have indeed been very busy. Someone I knew was getting married so I attended an engagement party/“surprise” bridal shower /and posh wedding.

I also knew two different people who died on the same day. So there were wakes/viewings/and funerals to attend.

My husband and I spent some time in Pennsylvania visiting my step-daughter and her husband.

I also have been writing a book that I hope to upload on Kindle during the next year, and I am writing essays and querying magazine article ideas.

I am frantically writing some book reviews.

Of course, I am also preparing for Christmas.

I visited a book sale yesterday and these are some of the books I scored (you can see them in the top photo):

  • The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman
  • Consequences by Penelope Lively
  • The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit by Lucette Lagnado
  • Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah
  • Winter Bloom by Tara Heavey
  • The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

I’m looking forward to reading all of them!

This post is in response to It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? a book meme posted on Sheila’s Book Journey.

R.I.P. Nelson Mandela : (