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Monthly Archives: November 2012

Lincoln is destined to be a classic


After seeing the movie Lincoln, I feel I just time traveled to the year 1865 and watched the passage of historic legislation abolishing slavery. Lincoln is authentic in every way from the sound of the ticking of the pocket watch that actually belonged to Lincoln to the chill of the dimly lit room Lincoln claimed as his office.

Lincoln is produced and directed by Steven Spielberg and stars Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln and Sally Field as his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln. The movie also includes a cast of many other remarkable and accomplished actors and actresses.

The movie is based on the book by Doris Kearns Goodwin, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln and features the last four months of his life and presidency. More specifically, it focuses on the passage of the 13th Amendment which followed the Emancipation Proclamation and permanently banished slavery for all states.

Daniel Day-Lewis so closely captures Lincoln’s essence that those connected with the production of the movie claim a chill ran down their spines as it seemed Lincoln was actually among them. We see Lincoln’s exhaustion and war weariness in Day-Lewis’s shawl- draped stooped shoulders and the clomping of his boots in his awkward gait. Day-Lewis spent a year researching Lincoln and visiting the many places associated with him before filming began. He inquired about his voice and learned Lincoln had a high pitched voice and, although we don’t have any recordings of his voice, what we hear in the movie seems to be very compatible with the character.

When we think of Lincoln we usually picture a god-like figure sitting on a marble throne as in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. Here we see Lincoln as a real human being able to feel happiness, love, and laughter as well as pain, passion and grief. He was the leader of our country during its most trying period and at the same time a husband and father trying to keep his family safe and happy.

We see that Lincoln wasn’t above a little arm twisting and hand holding in order to get his way. He even turned to a few lobbyists to insure passage of his legislation. James Spader (better known as Denny Crane’s cohort) adds some comic relief as William N. Bilbo (even his name sounds comical), head lobbyist. Their behind-the-scenes antics provide a glimpse into the lobbyist’s world and lets us know that this profession also is not new. (I don’t know for sure but it is probably the second oldest profession.)

Tommy Lee Jones, usually known for playing gritty, rough and tumble character,s is excellent as Radical Republican Congressional leader, Thaddeus Stevens. Stevens was a fervent abolitionist and feared Lincoln would abandon the emancipation. He is a force to be feared and reckoned with.

Another excellent performance is turned in by David Strathairn as Secretary of State William Seward, Lincoln’s closest friend and confidant.

We can’t forget Sally Field as Mrs. Lincoln or madam president as she preferred to be called. She is sweet, forceful and a bit insane all at once.

Other actors you will recognize are:

  • Hal Holbrook (who won an Emmy for portraying Lincoln in a 1976 mini-series) as Francis Preston Blair, an influential Republican politician, who tried to arrange a peace agreement between the Union and the Confederacy.
  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt as oldest son, Robert Todd Lincoln, who has dropped out of Harvard Law School to serve as a personal attendant to Gen. Grant in the Union Army.
  • Gloria Reuben, (formerly of ER) as Elizabeth Keckley, a former slave, dressmaker, and confidant to Mary Todd Lincoln.
  • S. Epatha Merkerson (long-time actress on Law and Order) as Thaddeus Stevens’s housekeeper and “friend”.

Lincoln could easily have been a boring documentary about passage of legislation that would shape the future of our country; but in the skillful hands of Spielberg we see history in a fresh way. I particularly like the way he introduced us to the Gettysburg Address and portrayed the assassination scene. Spielberg gives the viewer credit for some intelligence and shows these in a new way. Why rehash something we have known since the third grade?

Lincoln is a movie I could see again and I don’t say that about many movies. Every student of American History and school child above the age of 10 should see this movie. Lincoln will be around for a long time and one that future historical dramas will be measured against. Expect to see many awards for this movie in the upcoming awards season including best movie, best director, best actor and supporting actors. It just may sweep up all the goodies.

I give Lincoln an A+.

Why do we eat turkey on Thanksgiving?

Pity the turkey

It is the day before Thanksgiving and by this time cooks across the country are prepping and stuffing turkeys for the big Thanksgiving feast. Approximately 45 million turkeys will have the place of honor at this traditional meal.

But why do we eat turkeys on the day for giving thanks.  Wouldn’t a ham, steak, roast, or fish serve the same purpose? Maybe so, but for most Americans it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without the traditional turkey. No one can pin down the exact origin for this traditional dish. There was no official proclamation issued saying that every household on the last Thursday of November should eat turkey when giving thanks; but there are several possible suggestions for the traditional meat.

Taste for turkey goes way back

The English were known to eat roasted goose, swan, and even peacocks. Legend has it that Queen Elizabeth I in the 16th century was celebrating the harvest festival with baked goose when she received news that the Spanish Armada, on its way to attack England, had sunk. She ordered an extra goose to celebrate the occasion. The colonists carried this tradition to this country but found wild turkeys more plentiful than geese.

It is thought that the settlers of Plymouth Plantation had many different kinds of meat at their first Thanksgiving in 1621 including venison, fowl, lobster, and cod. Deer meat and wild fowl are the only two meats historians know for certain were there. In a letter written by Edward Winslow, he mentions a hunting trip for wild turkey before the meal. The English had a tradition of eating turkey for Thanksgiving feasts which goes as far back as the 1540s. Gov. William Bradford, the first governor of Plymouth Plantation, records in his History of Plymouth Plantation that when they arrived in America, sailing from Plymouth in England, they brought the practice of eating turkeys with them.

Practical reasons for turkey

  • Turkeys were always fresh, affordable and large enough to feed a crowd. Turkeys were cheaper than chickens, larger than quail, and easier to hunt than geese.


  • Turkeys could be slaughtered without any economic consequence. Cows were needed for milk and chickens for their eggs—and—roosters are tough and chewy.


  • Turkeys were “ripe for picking” in the fall. The turkeys born in the spring would spend the months eating insects, worms, and acorns which give the bird its exotic taste. By fall they usually weigh about 10 pounds which is just right for feeding a crowd.

If the founding fathers had listened to Ben Franklin we would be revering the turkey rather than eating it. As most school kids know, Franklin wanted the turkey for our national emblem rather than the bald eagle. Franklin said, “The turkey is a much more respectable Bird and withal a true original Native of North America.”

I once knew a woman who raised turkeys and she would disagree with Franklin. She said turkeys were one of the dumbest animals on earth.

Pity the poor turkey for his customary place is now on a platter in the middle of our Thanksgiving table rather that atop a flag pole guarding old glory. Pass the gravy,  please.




Did you know:

– The long fleshy skin that hangs over a turkey’s beak is called a snood.

– The color of a wild turkey’s naked head and neck area can change blue when mating.

– Male turkeys are nicknamed “toms” while females are called “hens.”

– When turkeys reach maturity they can have as many as 3,500 feathers.

– Wild turkeys can run up to 55 miles an hour.

– Turkeys have a 270-degree field vision and have incredible hearing.


More on the death of the Twinkies

People everywhere are contemplating the demise and eternity of the Twinkie. The pictures below speak for themselves:

Save the Twinkies

The future looks bleak. Some people are depressed over the election results, there are wars and rumors of wars, we have constant threats of terrorist attacks, and there is a sex scandal in Washington (imagine that).

We have faced all these crises before and survived but this time we may have to do it without familiar comfort food to get us through. Yes, my friends, I’m talking about that little yellow sponge cake with the white gooey middle—a Twinkie. It probably has 982,000 empty calories without an ounce of nutrition but it tastes o-o-o-h so good. How did we get through childhood without Twinkies and other Hostess products such as Ding Dongs, Ho Hos, and Snowballs.

It has been said that Twinkies are indestructible and can survive forever. One even showed up in the movie, WALL-E, a few hundred years in the future. About the only thing that could cause the demise of the Twinkie is if production of them suddenly stopped and the recipe lost forever. Well, the end of world may be near (remember the Mayan calendar—12.21.2012 = 0) for production of Twinkies is scheduled to end in the all too near future. Could this earth-shaking event be what tilts the earth off its axis and dumps us into oblivion?

I can personally testify to the fact they are indestructible. Once I was on a canoe trip when the canoe carrying our snacks overturned. Our immediate response was to yell, “Save the Twinkies!” as we saw them floating down stream. It was only later I thought I should have inquired about the human occupants first. All other snacks were lost but the Twinkies, tightly sealed in their see-through packages, were unspoiled by their dunk in the creek.

As sad as it is, we may have to find a substitute junk food unless someone can find a last minute way to SAVE THE TWINKIES.


Twinkies maker Hostess plans to go out of business

Save the Twinkies! How can we live without them


from the Columbus Dispatch


Twinkies maker Hostess plans to go out of business.