Vaudeville and so much more, George Burns born 1896 January 20th

The best comedy straight man of his time, who starred in vaudeville, radio, theatre, and movies, George Burns was born on this date in 1896.

George teamed up with his wife Gracie to form the comedy duo of “Burns And Allen.” They began the act with George doing the jokes and Gracie doing the straight lines. However, they quickly found that audiences laughed more at her straight lines than the did at his jokes. So, it did not take long for them to trade roles. George credited Gracie for her wonderful teaming with her lines as the key to their success. Together they brought alot of laughs to a lot of people.

Reflective Wit and Social Insight, Jane Austen born 1775 December 16th

Jane Austen was an English writer whose books, set among the English middle and upper classes, are distinguished for their wit, social observation and insights into the lives of early 19th century women. Rich in comedy, romance, wit and satire, Jane Austen’s six novels are also pin-sharp reflections of her social and geographical milieu in and around Hampshire, Bath and Dorset. 

Jane Austen was born on 16 December 1775 in the village of Steventon in Hampshire. She was one of eight children of a minister and grew up in a close-knit family. She began to write as a teenager. In 1801 the family moved to Bath. After the death of Jane’s father in 1805 Jane, her sister Cassandra and their mother moved several times eventually residinig in Chawton, near Steventon.

Steventon Rectory was Jane Austen’s home for the first 25 years of her life. From here she travelled to Kent to stay with her brother Edward in his mansion at Godmersham Park near Canterbury, and she also had some shorter holidays in Bath, where her aunt and uncle lived. During the 1790s she wrote the first drafts of Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, and Northanger Abbey; her trips to Kent and Bath gave her the local colour for the settings of these last two books.

Jane’s brother Henry aided her deal with a publisher and her first novel, ‘Sense and Sensibility’, appeared in 1811. Her next novel ‘Pride and Prejudice’, which she designated as her “own darling child” received highly favourable reviews. ‘Mansfield Park’ was published in 1814, then ‘Emma’ in 1816. ‘Emma’ was dedicated to the prince regent, an fan of her work. All of Jane Austen’s novels were published incognito.

Sense and Sensibility[1]  and Pride and Prejudice both revolve around sisters, and Austen’s loving alliance with her only sister Cassandra lasted all her life. Both Jane and Cassandra had romances, but, like Austen’s heroines, refused to marry for the sake of marriage. They remained single, supporting their mother after the death of their father in 1805.

In 1809, Austen moved with her mother and her sister to Chawton, a tranquil Hampshire village. There, in a house given to them by her wealthy brother Edward, Austen spent her happiest years. All six of her novels date in their finished form from this period. Mansfield Park was published in 1814 and Emma, with its heroine whom Austen foretold ‘no one but myself will much like’, in 1815. 

In 1816, Jane began to suffer from poor health, probably due to Addison’s disease. She voyaged to Winchester to receive treatment, and died there on 18 July 1817. Two more novels, ‘Persuasion’ and ‘Northanger Abbey’ were published after her death and a last novel was left unfinished.


There are as many forms of love as there are moments in time.” — Personal correspondence

Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance.” —Pride and Prejudice (1813)

One cannot be always laughing at a man without now and then stumbling on something witty.” —Pride and Prejudice (1813)

Know your own happiness. Want for nothing but patience – or give it a more fascinating name: Call it hope.” —Sense and Sensibility (1811)

The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.” —Northanger Abbey (1817)

Without music, life would be a blank to me.” —Emma (1815)

To be fond of dancing was a certain step towards falling in love.” —Pride and Prejudice (1813)

It is very difficult for the prosperous to be humble.” —Emma (1815)

I do not want people to be very agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them a great deal.” — Personal correspondence

Vanity working on a weak head, produces every sort of mischief.” —Emma (1815)

The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of merit or sense.” —Pride and Prejudice (1813)


“So It Goes” and Kurt Vonnegut 1922 November 11th


Kurt Vonnegut, born on 1922 November 11th, whose dark comic talent and urgent moral vision in novels like “Slaughterhouse-Five,” “Cat’s Cradle” and “God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater” caught the temper of his times and the imagination of a generation.  He was known, but not famous, when he took a two-year teaching position at the University of Iowa.  The Writers’ Workshop would become known and so would Vonnegut.

The house on the Iowa campus (see above) would become a lighthouse for student writers and those who sought to teach them.  Among his rules for writers, Kurt Vonnegut counseled: “Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.”

Vonnegut’s honesty, his willingness to scoff at assumed wisdom, is such that reading his work for the first time gives one the notion that everything else is rank hypocrisy. His opinion of human nature was dubious, and that low opinion applied to his heroes and his villains alike — he was continually disappointed in humanity and in himself, and he gave voice to that disappointment in a mixture of black humor and great despair. He could easily have become an old nutter, but he was too smart; he could have become a foolish clown, but there was something tender in his nature that he could never quite suppress; he could have become irrelevant, but even at his most despairing he had an endless willingness to entertain his readers.

Vonnegut’s tenure at the University of Iowa 1965 to 1967 was a wonderful time for the young writers on the Iowa City campus.  Also, it was a smashing time for rock music with multiple influences of the mid-1960’s being played on the radio.  Our playlist of songs from 1965 in tribute to Kurt Vonnegut at Iowa City (along with his quotes) is as follows:

Ferry Cross the Mersey – Stereo; 1997 Remaster
Gerry & The Pacemakers

“I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.’” —A Man Without A Country

I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie)     Stop! In The Name Of Love – Single Version
     Four Tops                                                        The Supremes

My Girl                                              Help Me, Rhonda – Remastered
      The Temptations                                          The Beach Boys

Tired of Waiting for You
The Kinks

“If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph: ‘The only proof he needed for the existence of God was music.’” —A Man Without A Country

Mr. Tambourine Man
The Byrds

Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag                      The Game Of Love
   James Brown & The Famous Flames                  Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders

Jolly Green Giant                       Seventh Son
      The Kingsmen                               Johnny Rivers

There is no order in the world around us, we must adapt ourselves to the requirements of chaos instead.” —Breakfast of Champions

Like a Rolling Stone
Bob Dylan

For Your Love              You’ve Got Your Troubles
The Yardbirds                         The Fortunes

“Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning do to do afterward.”

Laugh Laugh
The Beau Brummels

She’s About A Mover – Re-recorded 1968          Shake
     Sir Douglas Quintet                                               Sam Cooke

Nowhere To Run – Single                              Love Potion Number Nine – Stereo Version
       Martha Reeves & The Vandellas                         The Searchers

 “And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”———-A Man Without a Country

Hang On Sloopy
The McCoys

We Gotta Get Out Of This Place – UK Single              I Go to Pieces
        The Animals                                                                           Peter And Gordon

The Last Time – Mono                                  The Boy from New York City
       The Rolling Stones                                              The Ad Libs


I Like it Like That – 2019 – Remaster
The Dave Clark Five

Keep Searchin’ (We’ll Follow the Sun)         How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)
         Del Shannon                                                               Marvin Gaye

Treat Her Right                                                       Shotgun
         Roy Head & The Traits                                            Jr. Walker & The All Stars

Science is magic that works.” —Cats Cradle

Do You Believe in Magic?
The Lovin’ Spoonful

Ticket To Ride – Remastered 2009                  Silhouettes
          The Beatles                                                             Herman’s Hermits

You Turn Me On                         The Birds And The Bees
          Ian Whitcomb                                        Jewel Akens

“That is my principal objection to life, I think: It’s too easy, when alive, to make perfectly horrible mistakes.”  —Deadeye Dick

I’ll Never Find Another You
          The Seekers

You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ – Single           The Tracks Of My Tears – Single
        The Righteous Brothers                                          Smokey Robinson & The Miracles


Wooly Bully
             Sam The Sham & The Pharaohs