Dr. Seuss was born Ted Geisel on March 2, 1904, meaning today would have been his 114th birthday! Check out these amazing facts you probably didn’t know about the man behind the Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham…
#1. Dr. Seuss wrote Green Eggs and Ham on a bet.
Dr. Seuss himself—a.k.a. Ted Geisel—pictured here with perhaps his most famous book. Photo source: WikiCommons
After some blockbuster hits like Cat in the Hat and How the Grinch Stole Christmas in the late 1950’s, Seuss’ editor, Bennett Cerf, thought the Doctor could use a new challenge. He bet Seuss that he couldn’t write a book using just 50 words. Seuss said, “challenge accepted,” and the end result was Green Eggs and Ham: his best-selling book with over 8 million copies in circulation. The 50 words, in order, were: I am Sam; that; do not like; you green eggs and ham; them; would here or there; anywhere; in a house with mouse; eat box fox; car they; could; may will see tree; let me be; train on; say the dark; rain; goat; boat; so try may; if; good; thank. Talk about a tongue twister.
#2. His name rhymed with “voice,” not “moose.”
Sorry to spoil it for you folks, but you’ve been saying the guy’s name wrong your whole lives. Ted Geisel first adopted the moniker while at Dartmouth College after getting banned from writing for the school paper after being caught with gin in his dorm room. He went by “Seuss” to continue writing (and later added the “Doctor” because his dad always wanted him to go into medicine). But, he never intended the name to be pronounced the way we all do today. Instead, he wanted the name to go by the German pronunciation, which rhymed the name with “voice.” A friend even wrote a short poem to help with pronunciation:
You’re wrong as the deuce,
And you shouldn’t rejoice
If you’re calling him Seuss.
He pronounces it Soice (or Zoice).
#3. Writing and illustrating books for kids was not his only artistic job.
Dr. Seuss working on illustrations for How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Image Source: WikiCommons
During World War II, Seuss enlisted in the Army and became commander of the Animation Department of the First Motion Picture Unit of the United States Army Air Forces. Not a bad gig, all things considered. Seuss was responsible for creating animated propaganda films. Before hitting it big in the children’s books universe, Seuss also held down a job as an artist for advertisements. Seuss drew cartoons for General Electric, NBC, Standard Oil, and Narragansett Brewing Company.
#4. Seuss was a big fan of symbolism.
You might pick up a Dr. Seuss book and think it’s all just a bunch of nursery rhymes about boisterous cats or multi-colored fish, but the truth is that there’s a lot more beneath the surface. Take Yertle the Turtle for example. A domineering turtle with a whole pond to call his own gets greedy and tyrannizes his fellow turtles in his quest for multi-pond domination? If that sounds to you like a not-so-subtle allegory for Adolf Hitler, you’re absolutely right. Seuss later acknowledged the Turtle was a symbol of Hitler and Nazi Germany.
#5. His first book was turned down by 27 different publishers.
It took 28 tries to get And to Think I Saw It on Mulberry Street published, a process so frustrating that Seuss nearly burned his draft of the book. But, he persisted, and after writing over 40 books in his lifetime and selling more than half-a-billion copies, Dr. Seuss is one of the most successful children’s authors of all time.
Did You Know…Canned beer makes its debut on this day in 1935. In partnership with the American Can Company, the Gottfried Krueger Brewing Company delivered 2,000 cans of Krueger’s Finest Beer and Krueger’s Cream Ale to faithful Krueger drinkers in Richmond, Virginia. Canned beer was an immediate success. Ninety-one percent of the drinkers approved of the canned beer, driving Krueger to give the green light to further production. By the end of the year, 37 breweries follow the lead of the Gottfried Krueger Brewery.
Highlights in Internet History
Did you know…Co-founded in 1994 by Jerry Yang and David Filo while they were PhD students at Stanford, the company that would become a leading search engine and pioneer of the internet used to go by a much lesser known name. The search engine giant began as Jerry’s Guide to the World Wide Web, but by 1995 the founders realized they’d need something a bit more concise, so they renamed the company Yahoo! — an acronym for “Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle.” According to Filo, the exclamation point was added for “pure marketing hype.”
Question: Which President is mentioned by name in the theme song of TV’s “All in the Family”?
Answer: On this day in 1971, the sitcom “All in the Family” premiered on CBS. The opening theme song “Those Were the Days”, was presented in a unique way for a 1970s series: Carroll O’Connor and Jean Stapleton seated at a piano and singing the tune on-camera at the start of every episode, concluding with live-audience applause. Herbert Hoover’s name is mentioned in the famous theme song to “All in the Family” with the lyrics…”Mister, we could use a man like Herbert Hoover again.” The show ranked number-one in the yearly Nielsen ratings from 1971 to 1976.
Which founding father was killed as a result of wounds sustained in a duel?
Answer: Alexander Hamilton was shot and mortally wounded by Vice President Aaron Burr in one of the most famous duels in American history. The duel was the culmination of a long and bitter rivalry between the two men. Tensions reached a boiling point with Hamilton’s journalistic defamation of Burr’s character during the 1804 New York gubernatorial race. Ultimately, Burr challenged Hamilton to a duel. When both men drew their guns and shot, Hamilton was fatally wounded and brought back to New York City, where he died the next day.
4 Score and 4 Trivia Questions about the Gettysburg Address
President Abraham Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address on November 19th, 1863. It’s widely regarded as one of the famous speeches in history, but how much do you know about it? Try your hand at these four trivia questions about 272 words that proved a speech doesn’t have to be long to be memorable…
Who Wrote the Speech for Lincoln?
Rather than vilify the Confederacy after the battle of Gettysburg, Lincoln chose a more inclusionary tone for his speech. Photo credit: Greg Goebel/Flickr.
Today, whenever a president gives a speech, you know that it has been written by a professional speechwriter – someone who actually studied the art of public speaking and knows the mechanics of delivering a great speech. But in 1863, things were done a little differently. It was, in fact, Abraham Lincoln himself who wrote the Gettysburg Address – every word of it. He finished the speech the night before he gave it and spoke from the heart. That’s why it is still so powerful today.
Why Is This Speech So Famous?
Lincoln came out the night before his speech and told a few jokes to a crowd of several hundred people.
Lincoln could have made the speech all about defeating the South and winning the war, but he did not. Instead, he geared the speech toward keeping the country together, working together, healing rifts, and honoring the democratic intent of the country’s Founding Fathers. This was not a bitter speech, nor did it try to stir up anger or fear. It would have been very easy for Lincoln to go the emotional button-pressing route, but he took a more inclusionary path, reminding people that the war was not being fought to vanquish an enemy, but to hold together a country that was started with such promise.
What Was the Original Purpose of the Speech?
Lincoln’s speech was really supposed to be a short address that was more of an afterthought than anything else. The ceremony’s star guest was famed speaker Edward Everett, who spoke for two hours. Lincoln did plan out what he would say (the legend that he wrote it on the fly was just that, a legend), but his invitation was a last-minute decision, and he was supposed to be there more for moral support than anything else. Lincoln’s intent in the speech was to remind people of how important this war was to the country and to try to keep morale up after such a devastating battle. Instead, the short speech gradually gained a reputation for being one of the most eloquent examples of patriotism and devotion to the ideals of democracy.
What Newspaper Retracted the Poor Review it originally gave the Gettysburg Address 150 Years Later?
NPR did a tongue-in-cheek story about the paper’s retraction, including an interview with the Opinion Page editor.
At the time, newspapers made no bones about which side they supported. The Patriot-Union, a Pennsylvania newspaper, dismissed the president’s remarks as “silly” and wrote, “For the credit of the nation, we are willing that the veil of oblivion shall be dropped over them and that there shall be no more repeated or thought of.” At the 150 year anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, in 2013, the same newspaper, now known as the Patriot-News of Harrisburg, issued a retraction which read, “Seven score and ten years ago, the forefathers of this media institution brought forth to his audience a judgment so flawed, so tainted by hubris, so lacking in the perspective history would bring that it cannot remain unaddressed in our archives.”
Body and soul, let’s all go / transformed into arrows! / Piercing the air / body and soul, let’s go / with no turning back.
August 15, 1982: On this day, Ko Un was released from prison under a general amnesty. The former Buddhist monk, who had been given a life sentence for resisting the South Korean military dictatorship, went on to become one of the most acclaimed poets in Korea.
It is ‘where we are’ that should make all the difference, whether we believe we belong there or not.
After working on Wall Street for a year, Korean American novelist Chang-Rae Lee (born July 29, 1965) went back to school to get a masters degree in writing. Upon graduating, he turned his thesis into his first novel, the award-winning Native Speaker.
Each day means a new twenty-four hours. Each day means everything’s possible again. You live in the moment, you die in the moment, you take it all one day at a time.
Happy birthday, Marie Lu! The young adult author of the Legend series has a “special love” for dystopian fiction, which may or may not have something to do with her being born in the year 1984.