Thursday, July 23, 2009

Come play at the Mark Twain House!

...AND meet Mr. Twain himself! In Lego form that is. If you've visited The Mark Twain House & Museum since April you may have seen a 7 1/2 foot Twain House made of Lego, and even a little tiny Mark Twain standing on the porch. Now, starting on July 30th you can meet a life size Twain!

July 30th, 4-7pm, we'll be hosting an ice cream social to welcome our brand new ice box to the house.

*Enjoy some free ice cream, graciously donated by UConn Dairy Bar, and we'll be providing all the delicious toppings to go along with it.
soda donated by Avery's Beverages, made right next door in New Britain, CT!
musical performances by Bandstand Barbershop Quartet and EQuilibrium Dance Theatre. *Weather permitting there will be games on the lawn; crochet and hoops!
*And of course we'll be doing tours of the servants' wing of the house to welcome the new ice box for $5. (See previous article for more information and pictures on the ice box).
*The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center will also be involved, leaving their museum and house open for tours and doing Plein Air painting.

So be sure to stop by and see us, and say hello to Sam!
When: July 30th from 4-7pm
Where: 351 Farmington Avenue, Hartford
How much: FREE!


"Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do. Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do." - Mark Twain

Monday, July 20, 2009

Recent celebrity deaths and Twain

Recently, it has been hard to avoid the media coverage of celebrity deaths. Famous figures including Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, and Ed McMahon have died in the past few weeks. Though media scrutiny is obviously more intense than it was a century ago, Mark Twain received an immense amount of press about his death -- even when unwarranted!

As word of Jackson’s hospitalization emerged on June 25, several outlets gave conflicting stories as to his status. Additionally, on the same day that Jackson and Fawcett died, rumors circulated on the internet that actor Jeff Goldblum had died as well. In 1897, Twain was similarly the subject of false death gossip when The New York Journal inaccurately published Twain’s obituary. The mistake occurred after one of Twain’s cousins grew gravely ill and word spread incorrectly. Twain responded humorously to the mix-up with his famous quotation, “The report of my death has been greatly exaggerated.”

While countless celebrities garner media coverage, only a rare few are paid tribute by the U.S. President after their deaths. President Obama recognized Jackson’s star power by noting in an interview the “great joy that [Jackson] brought to a lot of people through his extraordinary gifts.” In a similar fashion, after Twain’s passing, President Taft said, “Mark Twain gave pleasure – real intellectual enjoyment – to millions… He has made an enduring part of American literature.”

Although Twain’s death was national front-page news, his funeral was not a public spectacle like the televised events of some contemporary celebrities. Instead, the ceremony was attended by a small number of relatives and close friends. Nevertheless, Twain’s fans made their gratitude known following the service by covering his grave with notes of appreciation and flowers.

In his tongue-and-cheek essay “At the Funeral,” Mark Twain wrote, “If the odor of the flowers is too oppressive for your comfort, remember that they were not brought there for you and that the person for whom they were brought suffers no inconvenience from their presence.” We can expect that Twain reacted to the gifts of flowers in the manner any newly deceased individual should: with indifference.

- Kevin Mathews

"Death, the refuge, the solace, the best and kindliest and most prized friend and benefactor of the erring, the forsaken, the old and weary and broken of heart." -Mark Twain

Monday, July 13, 2009

Happy Birthday Nikola Tesla!

Happy Birthday Mr. Tesla! (July 10, 1856) Nikola Tesla is regarded as one of the world's most renowned thinkers and inventors when it comes to electricity. Many of his inventions are still used today, and many of us never think about where it comes from. "The Tesla coil, which he invented in 1891, is widely used today in radio and television sets and other electronic equipment. His alternating current induction motor is considered one of the ten greatest discoveries of all time. Among his discoveries are the fluorescent light , laser beam, wireless communications, wireless transmission of electrical energy, remote control, robotics, Tesla’s turbines and vertical take off aircraft. Tesla is the father of the radio and the modern electrical transmissions systems. He registered over 700 patents worldwide." (from the Tesla Memorial Society of NY website)

Nikola Tesla and Sam Clemens were good friends beginning in the 1880's. Sam was always fascinated by new inventions and was constantly on the lookout for new investments. An invention of Tesla's came Sam's way and impressed him greatly. Tesla lived in New York City when he moved to the United States, and some of his friends happened to be friends with Clemens as well. As their social circles started to mingle, Clemens and Tesla eventually ended up meeting at a popular gentleman's club in the city. In 1894 Tesla invited Clemens to his lab, along with a few other friends, which is where the famous picture of Sam in Tesla's lab comes from.

Tesla and Clemens remained good friends until Sam's
death in 1910; writing correspondence whenever they could about the latest inventions and patents. Tesla greatly admired Clemens' writing and work, and Clemens was highly fascinated by the work that Tesla did with electricity. It seems as though they were a match made in heaven.


Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does the work." -Mark Twain

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Happy 4th of July!

If you've ever wondered what Mark Twain thought of the 4th of July and patriotism... brace yourself. An article in the Cleveland Examiner recently gave examples of Twain's quotes on patriotism, some of which I will include here.

If you know anything of what Twain thought of religion, then you know that this quote, "Patriotism is merely a religion -- love of country, worship of country, devotion to the country's flag, honor and welfare" isn't in support of patriotism. And if you don't know Twain's views on religion, there here you go: "In religion and politics people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing."

Some more quotes to ponder...
"[Patriotism] a word which always commemorates a robbery. There isn't a foot of land in the world which doesn't represent the ousting and re-ousting of a longline of successive "owners" who each in turn, as "patriots" with proud swelling hearts defended it against the next gang of "robbers" who came to steal it and did -- and became swelling-hearted patriots in their turn."

"...the true patriotism, the only rational patriotism, is loyalty to the Nation ALL the time, loyalty to the Government when it deserves it."

"We teach them to take their patriotism at second-hand; to shout with the largest crowd without examining into the right or wrong of the matter -- exactly as boys under monarchies are taught and have always been taught. We teach them to regard as traitors, and hold in aversion and contempt, such as do not shout with the crowd, and so here in our democracy we are cheering a thing which of all things is most foreign to it and out of place -- the delivery of our political conscience into somebody else's keeping. This is patriotism on the Russian plan."

Happy 4th of July from The Mark Twain House & Museum!