Sunday, May 28, 2017

Birthday: the man who championed A Confederacy of Dunces

“If a writer writes from a sense of outrage — and most serious writers do — isn’t he by definition a moral writer?”

-Writer Walker Percy, born 101 years ago today

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Birthday: "Miss Lawrence writes that her forsythia is already in bloom."

Elizabeth Lawrence (1904-1985)
Gardener, author, correspondent, newspaper columnist

Miss Lawrence, a famed gardener and writer who spent her career in Raleigh and Charlotte, North Carolina, was born this date in 1904. Her memory- and Charlotte home- is preserved in the Wing Haven Gardens and Bird Sanctuary.

Even thirty years after he death, those who know Miss Lawrence’s books- I keep A Southern Garden at the ready, year ‘round- or remember her Charlotte Observer columns, think of her as a friend, a delightful correspondent, and a companion in the yard. Here’s an appreciation of Elizabeth Lawrence I wrote in the series, “A Gardener’s Diary,” at the blog Waldo at Home, April 12, 2015, during a fit of hay fever:

I was in a right funk, honking into a handkerchief on the front steps, when my neighbor, Mildred, ambled over.

"Did you plant that azalea?" she asked.

I had no idea what she was talking about, and not just because my ears were started to plug up from the storm surge of mucilage rising past my eye balls.

"No. Where?"

"There," she said, and pointed. I could see it across the street this morning. I don't remember there being one there."

Mildred would know. She has been watching out the front windows for thirty-four years. If its knowable about this neighborhood, she knows it.

I turned to where she was pointing. Overnight,  a spindly overshadowed azalea I'd freed from adjoining boxwoods and more or less forgotten, so unpromising were its spavined limbs and shaded location, had turned into a beauty:

Well, that was cheering. I remembered I needed to tell Mildred I'd heard from one of this blog's readers, the self-styled "Old Jane in NC", about the yellow-flowered bush in Mildred's yard. I noted the other day that neither of us could remember what it is:

Jill commented, "I think the yellow blooming shrub is Kerria. Here in the mountains just north of Asheville, we are probably about 10 days behind you on dogwood, creeping phlox, etc. Again, thanks for the pretty pictures and pleasant conversation."

I looked up the suggestion. Jill is correct! What's more, the kerria japonica, or Japanese rose, is famed in music:

Besides "Japanese Rose," other common names for kerria japonica pick up on the fact that it is a member of the rose family. The common name, "Easter Rose" alludes to its early blooming period (during Easter, in some regions). The flowers' color accounts for the common name, "Yellow Rose of Texas" (with an assist from the song by the same name). Meanwhile, others commonly refer to it simply as "Kerria rose" or "Japanese kerria."

Others call it the Chinese rose; it is found there as well as in Japan and Korea. The name may also be an association with William Kerr, a Scots gardener discovered worked at Kew by Sir Joseph Banks early in the 19th century. Banks plucked Kerr up and sent him to China in 1804, Kerr became the western world's first plant collector, shipping home 238 varieties of plants over eight years, including the nandina, euonymus, begonia, and the rosa banksiae, wisely named for his patron's wife.  The kerria japonica cultivar bears Kerr's.

All of which, after I retreated indoors in search of more handkerchiefs, prompted me to pull down Elizabeth Lawrence's last book, Gardening for Love: The Market Bulletins (Allen, Lacy, ed, Duke University Press, 1987). Lawrence (1904-85) edited The Charlotte Observer's weekly gardening column from 1957 to 1971, and wrote a number of books beloved of gardeners, especially in the Carolinas.

Elizabeth Lawrence

I read Miss Lawrence's columns as a boy; her style was always entertaining and- as I read more of her over the years- it was easy to see how she was almost equally famous in gardening circles as a letter-writer (her collected correspondence with Katherine White, The New Yorker's gardening correspondent,and wife of E.B., is fascinating; they got on much better by mail than in person). Eudora Welty put her on the mailing list for The Mississippi Market Bulletin, one of a number of state publications in which farm people traded plants. Her correspondence with people throughout the South through those publications, was the inspiration for Gardening for Love, which documents the now-largely-lost world of plant trading:

Reading the market bulletins is like walking through a country garden with sun on the flowers, in their very names: princess feather, four-o-clock, love-in-a-mist, bachelor's buttons, Joseph's coat, touch-me-not, kiss-me-at-the-garden-gate, ladyfingers, redbird bush, rainbow fairy,  pink sunburst. Sometimes the names have a darker tone: devil's shoestring; devil's-nip, devil's-walking-stick, graveyard moss, graveyard vine, and a good many others with demonic or funereal names.

Charlotte, North Carolina's Touch-Me-Not Lane, part of the heritage of gardening.

Many of these ring bells for me, from half a century ago: visits to family and friends often meant coming home with cuttings, or sprigs offered to hosts, and transplants from old home to new were part of moving- they were from the family old homestead, or some important connection (for years as a teen, I grew strawberries from starters my maternal grandmother gave me). And, as Miss Lawrence notes, the names were an infinite source of delight- and some confusion:

Love-entangled is an old name for nigella or love-in-a-mist, but as often happens when old names linger, the farm women have transferred it to another plant. Love-tangle vine is their name for Kenilworth ivy, an old favorite for  hanging baskets. Kenilworth ivy, incidentally, I have also seen advertised as Kettleworth ivy. It often happens that as plants pass from the hands of one gardener to another, their names change in odd ways, through oral transmission. Some of these alterations in spelling when they are written down are: Eli Agnes for Eleagnus; the Festive Maxine peony for Festiva Maxima; Ellen Bouquet amaryllis for the rose-colored crinum, Ellen Bosanquet; Virginia's Philadelphia for Philadelphus x virginalis; red star arise for red star-anise; rose-of-Charon; and watery spirea for the spirea named Anthony Waterer. I am reminded of the gardener who asked me to come see her "wiggly rose," which turned out to be Weigela florida, and of another who called the rose Etoile de Hollande, Miss Estelle of Holland.

One of Miss Lawrence's many correspondents was Mr. Kimery, who had an acre nursery at the Tennessee-Mississippi border; she describes the challenges of identifying many of his colloquially-named plants. One,

"The rose of Texas," Mr. Kimery wrote, "is double yellow. I sent you all I have. They will live. Hope so." I hope so, too, for the one I got earlier died before I had a chance to tell anything about it except that its thorns were sharp and numerous, which made me think it was the old brier, Harrison's Yellow (1830), common in gardens and of American origin. The yellow rose of Texas appears often in the market bulletins, but sometimes it is not a rose at all, but double kerria (Kerria japonica).

I like to think my neighbors and I- and correspondents in the market bulletins of the Internet- are keeping these old folkways alive a little longer. Mildred has made me promise to take some cuttings of her Chinese rose; my neighbor Cindy has offered me some of the hostas that have sprung up from recently cleared and restored beds at her front door:

I came to love hostas living in Seattle, where their colors fit the cool, often muted light of the Pacific Northwest, but where they are also an endless buffet for the endless supply of slugs. It will be nice to have some new ones to put out before long.

After I get the dandelion rebellion suppressed, of course. And the allergies under control. And, after that, perhaps a visit to Miss Lawrence's house and garden, a National Register of Historic Places site here in Charlotte, now part of the Wing Haven Gardens and Bird Sanctuary.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Roles reversed: how the barbarians got inside the gates and expelled all the good people.

Cotton Boll Conspiracy, the best blog there is, I have enjoyed for a decade even when I disagree with it. I don't disagree that often, which may be surprising- it is to me sometimes- given that its author toils by day for a conservative think tank in South Carolina.

But I like smart, articulate people, which CBC is going and coming; and CBC has, from time to time, praised my work here and over at Waldo Lydecker's Journal, which makes me feel as Dr Johson did getting wind of Lord chesterfield's favorable nod: "[I] could not forbear to wish that I might boast myself Le Vainqueur du Vainqueur de la Terre, that I might obtain that regard for which I saw the World contending..."

I once offered via email to stand CBC a beer, as we lived in the same city. I never got a reply and now am elsewhere.

Maybe CBC figured we would get along best in theory rather than practice. Elizabeth Lawrence, the North Carolina gardening columnist, and Katherine White, the Onward and Upward in the Garden writer for The New Yorker, extravagantly admired each other's work and corresponded for decades, but the one time they met in person was a bit of a trainwreck.

But were we having a beer this week, I'd have to chivvy him a bit over a recent post on what he views as the silliness and vainglory of people who write about the persistent white-maleness of the gatekeepers of literature these days. He finds his examples, he says, a "type of myopia when I come across odd concepts that seem to sweep academia and other insular professions with regularity."

Not at all like ideologically-centered think tanks, no, not at all. There toil renaissance men like the former ad man turned South Carolina senator turned philospher-king of the Heritage Foundation, the recently dethroned Jim DeMint.

It's one of those straw-man pieces the right likes to toss out on slow days, picking out- and on- expansive manifestos by easy targets: one of those he cites, then observes,
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Harron is a black female. 
CBC goes on at some length about how good literature is like porn- we know it when we see it, and- in both cases- we like what we like and if someone else says we need to embrace more diverse fetishes authors, well, you can just keep your E.L. James any that girl's inner goddess to yourself. I'll stick with Frank Harris's sepia photos and vaguely lubricious Edwardian lusts, thanks very much.

CBC puts those academic ax-grinders in their places:
While the rest of the world goes about working and trying to make do, these sorts, who seem to have a good bit of time on their hands, are hell bent on stirring the pot in trying to convince outsiders that their eccentric ideas are cutting edge, rather than on the fringe.
That's an old Southern trope, of course. When I was a lad it was slathered on "pointy-headed intellectuals" by Governor George Wallace.

CBC's post is provocative and worth reading, but still, I believe, largely an essay in missing the point. One of the advantages academics have is the luxury and time for reading, study, and thought- things denied "regular folks" like him and his Bay Area-raised, 1960s-non-hippie parents.

So college profs come up with ideas normal people don't like (my Oxford politics tutor told me much of the professional literature in the field worried the topic, "Nothing should ever be done for the first time").

Some ideas are outlandish when first launched. Louis Brandeis' theory of an individual right of privacy, cooked up- perhaps cocked up, CBC might say- in that activist Harvard Law Review.

The notion that I might be entitled to approximately the same civil rights as CBC is the work of a half century of historians, law profs and other sorts of academicals who recovered the suppressed record of LGBT life in America, and then hung those who adore discrimination on their own Founder-fetishist rhetoric.

Just 40 years ago, for example, American doctors' professional standing was challenged for suggesting there really wasn't any valid data supporting the idea that homosexuality was a mental disorder.

The American society of professional historians tried to drum Martin Duberman out of their ranks for publishing some early studies and histories of LGBT life. Scores of others- Charles Eskridge, Kenji Yoshino, George Chauncey, Peter Gay, Gary Gates, Andrew Sullivan, M. Lee Badgett, to name a handful- have done the hard work that forced complacent censors of learning to up their game (among the more comic casualties of those whose work could no longer be taken as gospel because there was nothing to refute it was a respected University of South Carolina Medical School professor, George Rekers. After years of publishing, creating think tanks to validate his and his peers' work, and hoovering up taxpayer expert witness fees providing an academic grounding for homophobia in law, Rekers was caught out a few years ago, shlepping the luggage at the Miami airport for himelf and an online rent-boy, "Jovanni", Rekers claimed he hired to handle the grips over a long European holiday, what with Rekers' bad back and all).

Every idea was radical once. The writer Douglas Adams neatly summed up how people forget that:
Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.
So slagging academies as cloud-cuckoo lands is gratifying, in a gorging-on-cotton-candy way, but really can't be taken seriously.

Unless, of course, one takes the view that everything out of college or university is bad, which is pretty much the current position of the American conservative movement.  As Mark Noll wrote of the Republican Party at prayer, "The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind."

 CBC, after getting good and wound up, proclaims,
I don’t need holier-than-thou sorts to tell me of the pleasures of Edith Wharton, Jane Austen, Annie Proulx, Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya, Lise Funderburg, David Sedaris or Pearl Buck, all of whom I’ve read recently. I also am not going to listen to some busybody tell me that I shouldn’t pick up Steinbeck, Fitzgerald, Dickens, Chekhov, Joseph Conrad, Henry James and James Fenimore Cooper, all of whom I’ve also enjoyed recently.
All of whom but three, I note are long dead, and all but one of whom are white. I am tempted to observe,
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Cotton Boll Conspiracy is a white male from South Carolina.
The academics CBC rubbishes are simply arguing that people ought to consider reading more mindfully, more broadly, and to make the effort to find the authors who struggle to get mainstream publishers whose gatekeepers are mostly white guys, and the reviewers of whose products are, too.

If 60% of Australian authors are female, why does their work get less than a third of reviews in the Aussie press? Why is is so hard to get English translations of foreign authors- good translations, even harder? In academic publishing, why are there so few women authors in any field among the top titles? Why were the Greek and Roman classics purged of all non-negative accounts of homosexuality, and why was the US Postal Service still suing its authors for obscenity into the 1960s?

Those are questions CBC might ponder were he an academic with the time to think more and more deeply, rather than a normal, real-world guy just trying to make a living.

That's one of the tradeoffs in life. Some get to preen about excelling at normalcy; others think up tomorrow's conservative eternal verities (except of course, for Buckleyites who oppose it all, all the time, forever, athwart the world, crying, "STOP!").

CBC often delivers what E.B. White called "this chesty dictum" before summing up less radically, and his post I consider today is no exception:
Good literature is good literature, no matter who writes it. 
Dadabhob finishes her piece in The Daily Dot with the following: “… almost everyone, regardless of gender or race, could stand to enjoy more literature from a broader range of authors.” 
I would amend her statement to simply say that almost everyone, regardless of gender or race could stand to enjoy more literature – period.
Which is where I'd agree with him and buy the next round. It's the faux-lowbrowism that propels the piece that would make him buy the jumbo plate of nachos to go with it. Not agreeing with stuff doesn't make it wrong. Maybe we just can't see its merits yet. Famously atheist, H.L. Mencken was asked what he'd say if he died and found himself before God and the angelic hosts.

Mencken puffed his cigar and replied,
I'd say, 'Gentlemen, I was wrong.'

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Holiday Travel Books: Do you have your towel with you?


Douglas Adams, The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide: Five Complete Novels and One Short Story (Gramercy Books, 1st ed. 1st printing, 2005). ISBN 0-517-22695-2. Leather bound with gilt titling, the last word in the misadventures of Arthur Dent. Very good condition. HBB price: $35 obo.

adams hitchhiker.jpg

Today’s Towel Day. It Douglas Noel Adams, who ambled through forty-nine years on this planet. Mostly he wrote about other planets, and the bits in between them, but he also did some Very Useful Things for aspects of life on this one.

Adams was very tall. He was six feet high at the age of twelve. His schoolmates never said, “Meet me under the clock tower”, or the like. They agreed, “Meet me under Adams.” When he stopped growing he was six feet, five inches tall.

He went to St. John’s College, Cambridge, which was a good thing. Cambridge produces scientists, homosexual writers, and people who are very funny (Oxford, in contrast, produces politicians, homosexual writers, and, latterly, school heads who commission people to design hideous buildings).

Adams pottered about Cambridge, doing no work to speak of (he could only remember doing one completed essay a year for his three, out of the usual 72). Still, he got a degree in English, and went to London, hoping to break into television work.

Between his off-kilter sensibilities and a certain indiscipline (“I love deadlines,” he remarked; “I love the whooshing sound they make as they rush past”), it was hard going. Lying, drunk, in a field outside Innsbruck, gazing at the stars one night, he had a thought. Someone should write a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

So he did. It debuted as a five-part radio play on BBC Radio 4 in the spring of 1978, to rave reviews. It made its way to National Public Radio in America in quick time, and a second BBC series followed in early 1980.

Fueled by Simon Jones’ bewildered, slightly, passive-aggressive characterization of Arthur Dent- the only man to survive the demolition of Earth for the construction of a hyperspace bypass- the series went viral, even though at that time, the phrase was only attached to getting the flu.

Adams kept tinkering with the idea for years. It morphed into a TV series, a movie, several stage plays, a computer game (Adams bought the first Apple Mac in Europe and was a bleeding edge techie), comics, and several sequels. On the strength of the series, he got a job as a BBC radio producer and then as a script editor for Doctor Who.

He wrote six other books of equally inspired silliness and used his fame and fortune to champion wildlife conservation and environmental issues. He loved fast cars, cameras, Apple computers, and a few women along the way, and died of a heart attack in California, where he’d gone to give a college commencement address.

Douglas Adams is survived by the annual Douglas Adams Lecture in wildlife conservation, and two asteroids- one named for him and one called 18610 Arthurdent. Adams’ life is celebrated every May 25 as Towel Day, and if you don’t know why, that’s one more reason to buy the book.

Henry Bemis Books is one man’s attempt to bring more diversity and quality to a Charlotte-Mecklenburg market of devoted readers starved for choices. Our website is at  Henry Bemis Books is also happy to entertain reasonable offers on items in inventory; for pricing on this or others items, kindly private message us. Shipping is always free; local buyers are welcome to drop by and pick up their purchases at our location off Peachtree Road in Northwest Charlotte if they like. #DouglasAdams #HitchhikersGuide #LiteraryBirthdays #Book of the Day #RareBooks #HenryBemisBooks #Charlotte

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Malice aforethought, amidthought, and afterthought.

The Claremont Review of Books, needing a reviewer of a new biography of Evelyn Waugh, lost not a moment's thought.

Joseph Epstein, arch-snob, career homophobe and ousted editor of The American Scholar, is the Antonin Scalia of conservative lit: relentlessly loathsome and yet sparklingly entertaining at the same time.

Here's his review.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Starting Thursday, May 25, noon EDT. Because a raging ego is a terrible thing to waste.

Birthday: “Everything that anyone would ever look for is usually where they find it.”


Margaret Wise Brown (1910-1952)

Her grandfather, B. Gratz Brown, was a dueling Missouri abolitionist who helped found the Republican party, raised a regiment in the Civil War, served as senator from, and governor of, Missouri, and ran for vice president on Horace Greeley’s ticket in 1872.

Her father- and mother- didn’t get on well, and for those of means one solution for having kids and fights was to pack the kids off to boarding schools. Their daughter Margaret was so raised, and after graduating from Hollins College in  1932, she went to New York and became a teacher at an experimental school.

Less than keen on what her students were reading, Margaret Brown tried her hand at writing kids’ books herself. Her first book, When The Wind Blew, was published by Harper’s in 1937, and she spent the first royalty check on a street peddler’s entire flower cart.

Early success led to an editing job at the publisher R.W. Scott. Charged with developing a series of children’s books by adult authors, she struck out with Hemingway and Steinbeck but scored with Gertrude Stein.

Brown adored the repetitive, sometimes whimsical style in Stein’s writings, and the expat author was all the rage after the success of The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas in 1933 and her barnstorming 1934-35 American lecture tour. The World is Round was the result, and marked Brown's first collaboration with a young illustrator, Clement Hurd. When you read lines of Brown’s life, ““In the great green room there was a telephone and a red balloon. …”, you hear more than a bit of Gertrude Stein shining through.

Brown produced hundreds of children’s books, two of which had the magic of immortality: The Runaway Bunny (1942) and Goodnight, Moon (1947). Both were illustrated by Hurd.

The writer Katie Roiphe tried to capture the wonderful, lasting quality of Brown’s work this way:

One of Margaret Wise Brown’s offhand descriptions of childhood makes me think that she is nearer to childhood than the rest of us, inside it in a way that most of us can’t quite imagine or get to: She talks about the “painful shy animal dignity with which a child stretches to conform to a strange, adult social politeness.” Could there be a better, more intimate expression of that awkward childhood relation to the adult world?

Also preternaturally incisive about that stage of life is her statement about the purpose of kids’ books: “to jog him with the unexpected and comfort him with the familiar.” Putting both the jogging and the comforting together is too resplendent an insight for an expert on childhood and seems to belong instead to a denizen of it.

Brown herself never quite grew up. Perhaps, like Maurice Sendak, her work reaches children so well because it was so informed by the realities of childhood. “I refuse to lie to children,” Sendak said, “I refuse to cater to the bullshit of innocence.”

Brown, Roiphe tells us, “did not harbor sentimental notions and was not overly devoted to bunnies and chubby toddlers. In a Life profile the reporter expressed surprise that the tender creator of so many rabbit-themed books would enjoy hunting and shooting rabbits, and Margaret replied: ‘Well, I don’t especially like children, either. At least not as a group. I won’t let anybody get away with anything just because he is little.’”

Having reached adulthood to all outward appearances, she simply declined to buckle down to the dull, responsible life of one. Movie-star attractive, she was in a relationship with another woman author twenty years her senior through the 1940s, and a number of fairly tempestuous relations with men as well.

At her house in Maine, she kept her bedroom outdoors- “with a table and nightstand and a mirror nailed to a tree, along with an outside well that held butter and eggs,” Roiphe says. She formed a club called the Bird Brain Society. Its premise was that any member could declare any day of the year to be Christmas, and all the other members had to come over and help celebrate.

She traveled constantly, and caused an uproar in one Paris hotel when she turned her room into an orangery with live birds. Ask her what time it was, and she’d answer, “What time would you like it to be?”

In 1952 Brown was engaged to James Stillman Rockefeller, a 1924 Olympic oarsman (with the future Dr. Spock) and chairman of what eventually became Citicorp. On a tour of France, she underwent surgery for an appendicitis; to show the doctors her recuperative powers, she did a can-can kick, dislodging a blood clot in her leg. She died in minutes, at the age of 42.

Margaret Wise Brown said, “In this modern world where activity is stressed almost to the point of mania, quietness as a childhood need is too often overlooked. Yet a child's need for quietness is the same today as it has always been--it may even be greater--for quietness is an essential part of all awareness. In quiet times and sleepy times a child can dwell in thoughts of his own, and in songs and stories of his own.”

It’s a telling point. In her 1999 Pulitzer Prize play, Wit, Margaret Edson portrays the losing battle of a fearsome, single middle aged, family-less college English professor against cancer. Floating in and out of consciousness, Vivian Bearing retraces a life spent largely frightening students, the study of John Donne, and the emulation of her own fearsome mentor, Dr E.M. Ashford.

At the play’s end, Dr Ashford, an 80-year-old visiting family in the city, stops to see her star student in her last hours. When Ashford offers to recite some Donne and Bearing, barely present, declines, the elderly professor climbs into her hospital bed and reads her the book she bought to give her great-grandson at his birthday party.

It'll make you feel all warm inside, too.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Anniversaries: "Whether we're a preschooler or a young teen, a graduating college senior or a retired person, we human beings all want to know that we're acceptable, that our being alive somehow makes a difference in the lives of others.”

Fifty years ago today, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood came to public television.

The Writer's Almanac explains,
It was on this day in 1967 that a show featuring a kindly man in a cardigan and blue sneakers debuted on public television and introduced millions of schoolchildren to the concepts of peace, patience, and diversity. Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood would go on to become the longest-running children’s program on television. 
The show was the brainchild of a Protestant minister and puppeteer named Fred Rogers, who believed children needed a show that placed an emphasis on values, tolerance, self-control, and self-esteem. 
Rogers started as a puppeteer on a show called The Children’s Corner in Pittsburgh, then moved the show to Toronto for a few years, and then back again. Rogers created indelible characters like Henrietta Pussycat, who lived in a small yellow and orange schoolhouse, and X the Owl, who lived in an old oak tree in what became known to millions of children as “The Neighborhood.” 
Rogers began each show by entering a door into his fictional home, hanging up his jacket, putting on one of his many cardigans, and trading his dress shoes for blue sneakers. He sang songs, led children on field trips to factories and restaurants, and even did crafts and played music. He spoke directly into the camera and often dealt with serious subjects like war, divorce, death, and competition. Rogers said: “The world is not always a kind place. That’s something all children learn for themselves, whether we want them to or not, but it’s something they really need our help to understand.” 
Fred Rogers’s mother knitted all of the cardigans he wore on the show. One of them is hanging, right now, in the Smithsonian Museum. On his continued popularity with children, Fred Rogers said: “One of the greatest gifts you can give anybody is the gift of your honest self. I also believe that kids can spot a phony a mile away.” 
Rogers died in 2003. In 2007-08 PBS phased the show out out of its daily syndicated feed, though some stations continue to broadcast the old shows.

An animated, next-generation update of the program, Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, debuted in 2012, and since then the number of stations carrying the original has doubled.

On May 11, the internet gaming platform Twitch began the ultimate binge-watch to support public broadcasting: an 18-day back-to-back run of all 886 episodes of the half-hour show. It continues through May 29.

Now we can all be the median reader.

Amazon has issued a new closed-circuit best-seller list.

The news is being hailed by the hive mind of Borg collectives throughout the universe.