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Kurt Vonnegut’s Birthday

kurt_vonnegutOn November 11, 1922, American author Kurt Vonnegut was born. Vonnegut is most well known for famous works such as Cat’s Cradle, Slaughterhouse-Five, and Breakfast of Champions. His works had a tendency to combine satire with witticism in the face of hopelessness and equal parts of science fiction.

Vonnegut was born in Indianapolis into a family of architects, most of whom attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.). Vonnegut attended Cornell University, and although he majored in chemistry, he was became the Assistant Managing Editor and Associate Editor of The Cornell Daily Sun, the university’s daily newspaper. Journalistic rules heavily influenced his writing. He adopted a straightforward style, always  made sure to get his facts right, and knew his audience.

While at Cornell, Vonnegut enlisted in the United States army and served in World War II. His involvement in the war and tribulations as a prisoner of war greatly influenced his later works. He survived a devastating German bombing with a group of American soldiers who were held in an underground meat locker which was being used as a temporary detention center. The Germans called it Schlachthof Fünf or “Slaughterhouse Five,” which became the inspiration for Vonnegut’s famous novel of the same name. His brutal experiences here became a central theme for six of his other novels.

The devastation of war was not the only sorrow Vonnegut suffered during this time. Vonnegut’s mother, who became addicted to drugs and alcohol after the Depression, died from a drug overdose in 1944. After the war ended, Vonnegut married his childhood friend, Jane Cox, and they soon after had their first child. To support his family, Vonnegut began working in advertising, while writing short fiction stories on the side.

In a tragic turn of fate, Vonnegut’s sister died of cancer mere days after her husband was killed in a freak train accident. Vonnegut and his wife took over care of their children, doubling the size of their family and forcing Vonnegut to bring in more money. He began to focus his attention on producing novels rather than short stories, and produced a series of books ranging from sci-fi to economic injustice to religious satire. It was in these novels that his penchant for dark humor unraveled in his ability to make his readers laugh even after presenting them with bleak and horrific images. His novels grew a small cult following among college students. When Slaughterhouse-Five came out in 1969, Kurt Vonnegut became a household name, and he became one of the most famous living writers of the early 1970s. The 1970s were not a happy time for Vonnegut, however, as his family life began to fall apart. His marriage ended and his son suffered from a bipolar disorder, and he began living by himself in New York City. Themes of novels he wrote at this time revolved around the disintegration of families and he worked through emotional problems he had dealt with since childhood. He remarried in the 1980s and his novels at this time focused on social realism. Through the ’80s and ’90s he became a spokesman for the preserving Constitutional freedoms, controlling nuclear arms and protecting the environment.

Vonnegut is still looked up to today by many for his ability to attack controversial topics in a satirical and humorous way. To read some of Vonnegut’s most famous and memorable quotes, go here.

Sources: Wikipedia, Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library

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Sarah’s Birthday

sarahHappy birthday to one of our amazing Calendars.com team members, Sarah!

Sarah has been a member of the Calendars.com team for 7 years. She is our Online Marketing Manager and Campaign Coordinator, so anytime you hear news about special discounts or contests we have, that is all Sarah’s doing! She also keeps us on schedule for all campaigns we run such as Halloween and Black Friday. In addition to that, she also builds and tests all of our social media apps. We would be lost without her!

Sarah has two very active boys and spends most of her free time taking them to their many extracurricular activities. She loves musical theater, movies, reading, baseball (Go Astros!), and has a special place in her heart for anything robot or fairy related!

Here are some of Sarah’s favorite things on Calendars.com. To see the rest of her staff picks, go here!

Pink Floyd Album Art 1000 Piece Puzzle

Pink Floyd Album Art 1000 Piece Puzzle

 

Dr. Who Special Edition 2014 Wall Calendar

Dr. Who Special Edition 2014 Wall Calendar

 

Robots 2014 Wall Calendar

Robots 2014 Wall Calendar

 

I Could Pee on This and Other Poems by Cats

I Could Pee on This and Other Poems by Cats

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

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Roy Lichtenstein’s Birthday

roylichtenstein2Roy Lichtenstein, a famous American pop artist, was born on October 27, 1923 in New York City. He was a prominent part of the Pop Art Movement during the late 1950s and 1960s along with other artists like Andy Warhol and James Rosenquist.

When Lichtenstein was younger, he had heavy interest in science and comic books. He later started to develop an interest in art and took watercolor classes at Parsons School of Design in the 1930s. He continued to study art as an undergrad, but his studies were interrupted when he was drafted during World War II. He worked as a map maker, draftsman, and artist during the war, and when his military time was over, he returned to the United States and finished his undergraduate and master’s degrees in fine art. While receiving his master’s at Ohio State, he was hired as an art instructor, a position he held for 10 years. He worked various jobs after that including being a draftsman and window decorator. In his spare time, he focused on his painting, and began exploring Expressionism and Cubism.

In the late 1950s, he returned to New York  and began teaching art again and evolving his own work into Abstract Expressionism. While teaching at Rutgers University, Lichtenstein was influenced by fellow teacher Allan Kaprow and Kaprow’s exploration into the unknown world of performance art which he called “Happenings.” Kaprow’s influence made Lichtenstein start to think about the art world in a different way, and how his art could fit into this world in a varying and influential way. The work he began to produce after this was a commentary on the popular culture of America and a reaction to the Abstract Expressionist paintings that were widely known in the art world at that time by painters like Jackson Pollack. Rather than embracing a completely abstract way of painting that lacked a subject, Lichtenstein based the subjects of his paintings on popular American advertisements and comics of the time. He mimicked their look and feel, but added in his own personal commentary. He even mimicked commercial printing techniques in his paintings with the use of Ben-Day dots and hard-edged, precise illustration.

Lichtenstein’s first solo show at the Castelli Gallery in New York was wildly successful. Before the show opened, all his paintings sold to some of New York’s most prestigious collectors. Lichtenstein’s work struck a cultural nerve, and brought him to the forefront of the pop art movement, making way for other pop artists.

FT2013-24-ErteLichtenstein’s rise to popularity also meant a rise in wealth, and he was soon able to quit his teaching job to focus on his art. He became notorious for the deadpan humor and ability to make a signature piece of art by mimicking mass produced images from the media. His paintings had dual effects on people – many didn’t know if they should accept it as art or anti-art, humorous or disturbing, or celebrating or mocking popular culture. He became very popular with collectors like Leo Castelli of Castelli Gallery who showed Lichtenstein’s art for 30 years. The debate and controversy over Lichtenstein’s paintings made a lasting mark on the world of art.

Today there are around 5,000 Lichtenstein paintings in circulation all over the world. At auctions, his art is usually among the most highly sought after, and sells for record-breaking prices. In 2010 “Ohhh…Alright…” sold at Christies for $42.6 million dollars and in 2012 “Sleeping Girl” sold at Sotheby’s for $44.8 million.

Sources: Amanti Art Blog, Biography.com, Huffington Post

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Evel Knievel’s Birthday

Daredevil Evel Knievel performing a wheelie in one of his famous jumpsuits.

Daredevil Evel Knievel performing a wheelie in one of his famous jumpsuits.

October 17 is Evel Knievel’s birthday! Evel Knievel was an American daredevil, best known for his 75 ramp-to-ramp motorcycle jumps between 1965 and 1980.

Evel Knievel was born Robert “Bobby” Craig Knievel in Butte, Montana in 1938. He received the moniker “Evil Knievel” after being put in jail for stealing hubcaps where there was also a man with the nickname “Awful Knofel.” Years later, he legally changed it to “Evel Knievel” to match his last name and because he did want to be considered “evil.”

He was an avid thrill seeker and his first motorcycle was a Harley-Davidson he stole when he was 13. His grandmother bought him a Triumph when he was 16. As he grew, he began to participate in local rodeos and ski jumping events. In the 1950s, he joined the army where he was a volunteer paratrooper and became a pole vaulter for their track team. When his time in the army was over, he returned to his hometown and met and married Linda Joan Bork. After returning home and getting married, Knievel spent some time playing semi-pro and professional hockey. To try and make money after his first son was born, Knievel spent short amounts of time helping hunters shoot big game with his guide service called Sur-Kill and selling insurance.

When he was denied a promotion at the insurance company, he moved his family to Washington. In Sunnyside, Washington, he began working at a motorcycle shop, and it was here that he learned how to do a “wheelie” and ride while standing on the seat of his bike. While working at the shop and trying to figure out more ways to support his family, he recalled the exploits of famed stunt-car driver,  Joie Chitwood, and decided he could do similar stunts on a motorcycle.

To attract visitors, he promoted and set up an event himself where he announced that he would jump his bike over a 20-foot box of rattlesnakes and two mountain lions. In front of 1,000 people he performed the stunt, but fell short and hit the box of rattlesnakes. Despite his failure to completely clear the jump, the audience was awestruck and Knievel knew he could turn this into something bigger and better.

In 1965, Knievel formed Evel Knievel and His Motorcycle Daredevils, and they began to tour the West coast performing motorcycle tricks. After retaining a series of injuries, the show broke up and Knievel continued to perform on his own. He performed a jump over the fountains at Ceasar’s Palace in 1968 which was highly publicized, but resulted in Knievel coming short of his landing and fracturing his skull, breaking his hip, several ribs, his wrist and both ankles. He also suffered a concussion and was in a coma for 29 days.

To keep himself in the public eye, Knievel started rumors in 1968 that he would jump across the Grand Canyon, but by 1971, he realized that the U.S. Department of the Interior was never going to allow him to perform such a feat. Since this publicity stunt was foiled, Knievel searched for something just as daring to keep fans interested. He soon discovered Snake River Canyon in Idaho which was wide enough, deep enough, and on private property. He leased 300 acres of land to perform the stunt.

After hiring an aeronautical engineer to build him a rocket-powered cycle he attempted a 1,600 foot jump over the canyon in 1974, but his parachute deployed too early causing him to drift to the canyon floor and sustain some minor injuries. The stunt earned him a whopping $6 million.

Later that year he performed other money-making stunts such as jumping over 13 single-deck AEC Merlin buses at Wembley Stadium in London and an aquarium tank containing 13 sharks in Chicago. Both stunts left him with injuries.

Knievel retired from major stunts after his shark jump and mainly made public appearances to help launch the career of his daredevil son, Robbie Knievel. To this day, Evil Knieval holds a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records as the survivor of “most bones broken in a lifetime,” totaling up to 433.

Over the following years, Knievel went through several lawsuits including one after he assaulted his former press agent and lost many of his sponsorships and another more recent suit with hip hop artist Kanye West who used Knievel’s trademarked image in one of his music videos.

Knievel’s health began declining in the late ’90s due to Hepatitis C, which he contracted after one of his many blood transfusions. In 1999, his liver began failing because of the disease combined with his heavy drinking, and he was only given a few days to live. He received a successful liver transplant, however, and it wasn’t until the early 2000s, when he was diagnosed with diabetes and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, an incurable lung condition, that his health once again started to decline. In 2007, at the age of 69, he died in Clearwater, Florida.

His life legend as “The Last Gladiator” lives on today, as daredevils around the world try to match his motorcycle feats. Watch the video tribute below with some of Knievel’s most daring motorcycle feats!

R.I.P. Evel Knievel Tribute Video by mysteryshopperjob

Sources: Wikipedia, NY Times

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Brett Favre’s Birthday

Legendary NFL quarterback Brett Favre was born on October 10, 1969 in Gulfport, Mississippi. Favre displayed great athletic ability at a young age in both football and baseball and was encouraged by his football coach father to play high school football. After high school, Brett Favre attended the University of Southern Mississippi on scholarship playing quarterback for the school’s football team.

Brett Favre was chosen as the 33rd selection in the 1991 NFL Draft Pick by the Atlanta Falcons, whom he stayed with for one season. He was traded to the Green Bay Packers the following year and went on to make 297 consecutive starts as quarterback for the Packers from September 20, 1992 to January 20, 2008. After spending 16 seasons with the Packers and mediocre seasons as QB for the New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings, Favre retired from football for good in 2011.

Throughout his impressive career, Brett Favre led teams to 8 division championships, 5 NFC Championships, and 2 Super Bowls, winning Super Bowl XXXI with the Green Bay Packers. Favre also garnered the coveted league-wide MVP award three years running and holds records for passing (71,838 yards) and 508 career touchdowns. Favre is currently the Offensive Coordinator at Oak Grove High School in Mississippi.

Happy Birthday Brett Favre!

Sources: Biography, Wikipedia

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Gwen Stefani’s Birthday

Singer, songwriter, and clothing designer Gwen Stefani was born on October 3, 1969 in Anaheim, California. She is a founding member of ska/pop band No Doubt, which formed in 1986 and signed to Interscope Records in 1991.

No Doubt released their first album in 1992, but didn’t achieve success until their third album, 1995’s Tragic Kingdom. The album included popular tracks such as “Don’t Speak”, “Just a Girl”, “Spiderwebs”, and “Sunday Morning”.

Gwen Stefani moved on to a successful solo career in 2001, collaborating with top artists such as Moby and Eve. She also designed her own fashion line, L.A.M.B (Love Angel Music Baby) and a solo album of the same name. In 2012, Stefani teamed back up with No Doubt to launch a new album and embark on a worldwide tour.

Stefani is married to Bush front man Gavin Rossdale, and the couple have two children, Kingston James McGregor Rossdale and Zuma Nesta Rock, with whom they reside in Los Angeles, California.

Happy Birthday Gwen Stefani!

Sources: Biography, Wikipedia

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Google’s Birthday

September 27, 2013 is the 15th birthday of the search engine that we all know and love – Google.

Google was founded by Stanford graduate students Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 1998 in a friend’s garage, although the actual web domain www.google.com was registered in 1997. Although Google’s official birthday is September 7, the celebration has been shifted over the years, aligning with whenever people “feel like having cake”.

Originally called “BackRub”, Page and Brin eventually decided to call their search engine “Google” a play on the mathematical term “googol” which means a one followed by one hundred zeros. If you type “google in 1998” into the Google search today, you’ll see what the site looked like 15 years ago.

Check out 15 facts you probably don’t know about Google.

Sources: Wikipedia, About.com

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Will Smith’s Birthday

Actor, producer, and rapper Will Smith was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on September 25, 1968. He began rapping at the age of 12, and when he met DJ Jeff Townes at a party when he was 16, duo DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince was born.

Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince separated themselves from the rest of hip-hop by releasing catchy but clean tunes including “Summertime” and “Parents Just Don’t Understand”. While “Gangsta” rappers NWA were talking about drugs and violence, Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince were rapping about problems facing teens in middle-America, and people all over were able to relate. As their success mounted, the rap duo won the first Grammy Award for a Rap performance in 1988.

From 1990 to 1996, Will Smith acted as the title character in The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, a sitcom about a street wise kid from Philadelphia sent to live with family in California in order to keep out of trouble. The show’s re-runs  still air on multiple networks today.

Will Smith made the transition from television to movies in the mid-90s. His first big hit was opposite Martin Lawrence in the 1995 hit Bad Boys. After his breakout, the hits just kept going: Independence Day (1996), Men in Black (1997), Enemy of the State (1998), and many others. Smith received two Academy Award nominations for his reprisal of Muhammad Ali in 2001’s Ali, and 2006’s The Pursuit of Happyness.

Some of his other popular films include I, Robot, Hitch, I Am Legend, and Hancock, with many more projects in the works.

Happy Birthday Will Smith!

Sources: Biography,

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Stephen King’s Birthday

American horror and suspense writer, Stephen King, was born on September 21, 1947 in Portland, Maine. He attended the University of Maine, after which he unsuccessfully tried to become a teacher. King worked odd jobs to support his passion for writing, until his fourth novel Carrie was published and became immensely successful. So much so, that it warranted a film adaptation in 1976 starring Sissy Spacek.

Stephen King has published 50 novels which have sold over 350 million copies around the world. Many of his horror and science fiction works have been adapted for film, television, and comic books including: The Shining, Cujo, and It. One of the most successful horror writers of all time, Stephen King has collected many awards over the years such as Bram Stoker Awards, World Fantasy Awards, British Fantasy Society Awards, O. Henry Awards and more.

Happy Birthday Stephen King!

Sources: Biography, Wikipedia

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Harry Connick Jr.’s Birthday

American jazz musician and actor, Harry Connick Jr., was born on September 11, 1967 in New Orleans, Louisiana. His musical talent was apparent at an early age, and by the time he turned 9, Harry Connick Jr. was a member of the musician’s union and had already recorded a few albums.

Harry Connick Jr. got his big musical break when he was asked to record the soundtrack for one of the most popular romantic comedies of all time, When Harry Met Sally (1989), for which he won his first Grammy Award. He broke into acting in 1990 as a tail gunner in the WWII film Memphis Belle, followed by Blockbuster hit Independence Day in 1995. Harry Connick Jr. earned his first role as a leading man in the 1998 film Hope Floats opposite Sandra Bullock.

Harry Connick Jr. has acted in nearly two dozen films, sold over 25 million albums across the globe, and is among the top 60 bestselling male musical artists in America.

Happy Birthday Harry Connick Jr.!

Sources: Biography, Wikipedia

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