Happy Birthday, Mark Twain!

Today marks the 185th anniversary of the birth of Samuel Longhorn Clemens, who wrote under the pen name Mark Twain.

Mark Twain has been a favorite author of mine since my first introduction to Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn in elementary school. I loved the humor. I loved the honesty. I loved the way he wrote like people talked. Decades later, those are still the things I love about his writing. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court is another favorite novel of his.

A selection of Mark Twain books

Years ago, I enjoyed how actor Hal Holbrook brought Mark Twain alive on the stage and TV. When vacationing in New York a few years ago, I enjoyed visiting Elmira, where Twain lived. There was a live portrayal of him there, which was excellent. I still have those memories and the plastic souvenir cup from my visit.

Perhaps even more than his novels, I like many of Mark Twain’s quotes. It was through his little snippets or sayings that his humor really came through. Here are a few of my favorites:

“It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.”

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”

“A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.”

“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”

“A person who won’t read has no advantage over the person who can’t read.”

“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”

“When your friends begin to flatter you on how young you look, it’s a sure sign you’re getting old.”

Since my last blog post

The Covid-19 pandemic has worsened here in the United States. I’m thankful for all the people who work in healthcare facilities and other essential workers who risk exposure to the virus every day so the rest of us can have the services we need. I’m fortunate that I can stay home most of the time.

I finished reading a splendid new historical novel by Vicki Lane. Get your hands on a copy of And the Crows Took Their Eyes. Don’t let the title scare you off, but be aware that the book is not about a pleasant subject. It is, however, masterfully written. It sheds light on a part of North Carolina history that has received too little attention in the history books. It brings to life the horrors of neighbors taking opposite sides in the American Civil War. I read it slowly and savored the writing. Look for more about this book in my blog post on December 7, 2020.

My sister and I had some productive time one day as we continued to proofread my manuscript for Harrisburg, Did You Know? Stay tuned for progress reports.

My root canal went well last Monday, and I was able to enjoy turkey, dressing, and gravy on Thanksgiving Day.

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read and a challenging one to write, if you’re a writer.

Be creative. Find what you’re passionate about and make time to do it. Find a way to make a living doing it. I wish I had.

Wear a mask.


17 thoughts on “Happy Birthday, Mark Twain!

  1. I too enjoyed discovering his work, my father who was not literary at all felt we children should have access to the greats and so the books you mention are part of my life. He was able to translate the mundane and the ordinary into memorable reading, he really knew people.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Without a doubt Mark Twain is one of the great icons of United States literature and I’ve greatly enjoyed reading his novels especially Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. Great post Janet! And I am so glad you enjoyed a lovely Thanksgiving Day dinner. Wishing you a happy middle of the week day and all the best,

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you, Francisco. So glad my Mark Twain post struck a chord with you. All the best for you to have a productive and satisfying Thursday and Friday and a restful weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My pleasure Janet, all good in this end, cold weather and all. We are now improving and therefore allowed as many as ten people to get together for Christmas Eve dinner (which is what we celebrate as the gifts come on the 6th of January with the Three Kings), so we are happy, we cannot travel outside our communities but we can fly to any country in the Union, isn’t that strange? Anyways, I am glad to know you are well and good and posting, take good care and all the best,

    Liked by 1 person

  5. We continue to have a hodgepodge of Covid-19 restrictions in the US with each of the 50 states having their own rules since there is still no leadership from our soon-to-be-former-President. He’s too busy playing golf and raising insane amounts of money (1) to continue to argue in the courts that the election was stolen from him and (2) for his 2024 reelection campaign. In light of his false claims of voter fraud, his misguided followers are making death threats against election officials in various states. I don’t recognize my country any more, Francisco. It’s a circus, and it promises to last another 47 days. The politics have only served to distract attention away from the pandemic. Here in NC, everyone over the age of five is supposed to wear a mask when out in public and when with people we don’t live with. No more than 10 people of supposed to gather in a home. There are strict capacity rules for restaurants and stadiums. For example, bars can only serve outside and are limited to seven people per 1,000 feet. No alcohol can be served after 11pm. I’m staying at home, so I’m not really keeping up with all the details. Those of us over 65 years old are being advised to stay in and not even go to grocery store. On my last grocery run, I tried to anticipate and buy everything I’ll need for the next four weeks. On a happier note, I’ve gotten into a writing mode the last week or so and have concentrated on writing historical short stories. My goal is to publish a collection of them in at least e-book form via Amazon. It feels good to be writing more and reading less! I’m happiest when I’m writing. Continue to stay safe and well, Francisco. You’re producing more art and music than I can keep up with!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I have been…more or less…following the madness of your soon to be ex-president and it is incredible. He is willing to subject his country to this ridiculous search for fraud that doesn’t exist, I would say that the limits to his ego-centric, narcissistic tendencies has no bounds! We in Europe cannot wait for the day when the adults take over the government in the US. Thank God that people saw that to re-elect this man was insanity! I feel sorry because I’ve family in Florida and many friends in New York, and other cities and the things they tell me are very unsettling. We have a little better situation here as we also have “autonomous communities” (states), like Valencia (Comunitat Valenciana), with our own parliament and president but we’ve also a federal government that coordinates laws for the Kingdom (yes, we are not a republic), and all the communities must abide. For example the curfew between 00:00 to 06:00 daily and the mandatory use of face-masks outdoors, the no smoking in the streets or in the bars (outdoor terrace pubs), and although the communities may change or alter these, so far everybody is sticking to the plan, and our numbers are again going down. We are now allowed up to 10 people at Christmas Eve dinner gathering and also being able to unite with a friend at a bar or a restaurant…I think we will all be vaccinated by June 2021, our healthcare workers, elderly and people with underlying conditions will get their dose in early January, there will be 27 million people vaccinated by March, and then the rest of us…I hope this works! Take good care Janet, I am so glad that you’ve a good and interesting plan for your writing and I am sure you will be very successful with Amazon, which I am also thinking about for a poetry e-book. Have a great weekend and all the best,

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hello, Francisco. The vaccination plan in Spain sounds very similar to what the medical experts are telling us here. Of course, there is no word from the White House. I fear there is no real plan in place here until after January 20th. Trump is holding a rally in Georgia tonight as I write this. The reporters there see very few masks and no social distancing among the crowd. I never thought I’d see the day when so many Americans would try to defy science. We are blessed with medical facilities and personnel that many countries in the world can only dream of, yet there is a frighteningly large segment of the population that distrusts the system because we’ve had a president for four years who has belittled doctors and scientists and dragged them through the mud. What frightens me the most is that nearly half the voters still voted for him. How can an educated public be so brainwashed that they still follow him? And his supporters aren’t going anywhere. If the Democrats fail to gain a majority control of the Senate by way of the two Senatorial run-offs in Georgia on January 5, President-Elect Biden is going to be hard-pressed to accomplish much. It essentially will be the same Senate that stonewalled President Obama his last four years in office. I look forward to our having a US President again who can speak in complete sentences and not call people names. It has been refreshing since the election to hear Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris speak and hold press conferences with the decorum I grew up expecting from a president and vice-president. Such things were taken for granted until the 2016 election. This are, indeed, strange times on so many fronts. The pandemic is out-of-control all over the US now, with more than one million new cases diagnosed since December 1. I feel so bad for the doctors and nurses. I don’t know how they keep going in spite of so many people refusing to wear a mask or take any precautions, yet they assume there will be doctors and nurses ready and willing to take care of them if they get sick. It’s a wonderful thing that vaccines have been developed so quickly and they hold great promise. I thank God there are people smart enough to figure out such things. Have a pleasant Sunday. I’m excited about your plans to work toward a poetry e-book! ~ Janet

    Liked by 1 person

  8. You have said it perfectly Janet. I agree wholeheartedly and I can only hope that the Democrats do win those senate seats. We are all watching and waiting and looking forward to President Biden, and saying a total and complete goodbye to Mr. Trump! All the best my friend,

    Liked by 1 person

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