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Posted: Sat Oct 07, 2017 1:10 pm
Magda Szabó's 100th Birthday
Symbolically, a door can be interpreted in countless ways. It can represent anything from the extraordinary to the mundane: the promise of a new opportunity, a mysterious gateway to the unknown, or just the point of entry to the next room. Today, we celebrate Magda Szabó, the Hungarian author whose most internationally recognized book takes its title from this symbol. Her ability to craft an evocative narrative within an everyday setting is a part of what’s made her the most translated author in Hungary, with publications reaching 42 countries and translated into over 30 languages.
Though she is recognized today as one of the most influential figures of contemporary Hungarian literature, Szabó was actually forced into literary exile during the early 1950’s by the Communist Party. Before being censured, she began her career as a poet, winning several awards for her art. After being brought back into favor by the very same group that had enforced her silence, she explored the implications of this in what became her most well known novel “The Door”. She also went on to publish well-known children’s books, collections of plays, and works of fiction and drama.
One hundred years may have passed since the day she was born, but Szabó’s works live on, thanks in large part to the timelessness of her characters, her settings, and her stories.
Posted: Sat Oct 07, 2017 1:11 pm
Meret Oppenheim’s 104th birthday
Although it might not seem so unusual today for a woman to become a professional artist, it was nearly unheard of a century ago. But Meret Oppenheim, born on this date in 1913, knew from an early age that she wanted to make art and challenge accepted ideas. She became one of the foremost surrealists of her time, and she was the first woman to have a piece acquired by the Museum of Modern Art.
Oppenheim grew up in Switzerland in an intellectual family who supported her ambitions. One day Oppenheim's grandmother, also an artist, did a tarot reading for her granddaughter. The cards said it was time to try something new, and that's how Oppenheim ended up moving to Paris to attend art school.
In Paris, Oppenheim kept company with the rising stars of the abstract and surrealist movements: Pablo Picasso, Marcel Duchamp, and René Magritte - to name a few. They often asked Oppenheim to model or serve as a muse — women were seen as inspirations for art, not artists in their own right. Despite these expectations and obstacles, Oppenheim believed in herself and worked hard to make a name for herself as an artist.
Today's Doodle, created by guest artist Tina Berning, celebrates Meret Oppenheim on what would have been her 104th birthday. The Doodle nods to one of her most known works, Object, and honors the surrealist tradition of combining unexpected elements to create something new.
Posted: Sat Oct 07, 2017 1:13 pm
Wilhelm Bartelmann’s 172nd birthday
In 1882, 37-year-old Wilhelm Bartelmann, a master basket maker living in Rostock, Lübeck, received an unusual request.
The noblewoman Elfriede von Maltzahn wanted very much to enjoy a relaxing beach vacation (as she did every year). But her annual ritual was threatened by rheumatism, aggravated by cold winds off the Baltic sea. Could Herr Bartelmann help?
He could, and did by inventing the Strandkorb — the iconic German ‘basket’ chair that protects holidaymakers from sun, wind, and neighboring eyes on northern beaches (and in parks, in homes, and on mountains too).
The original chair was designed to seat only Fräulein Maltzahn. But company on the beach is always welcome, and most Strandkorbs today seat two people. In addition to shade, they sometimes provide folding tables, storage space, potential wedding venues, even mini-bars.
In honor of Bartelmann’s 172nd birthday, guest artist Stephanie Wunderlich has created this very special paper sculpture of the Strandkorb. Thank you Herr Bartelmann for your contribution to the good life. Alles Gute zum Geburtstag!
In-progress photo from the creation of the Doodle:
Posted: Sat Oct 07, 2017 1:14 pm
Begum Akhtar’s 103rd birthday
Today we celebrate the 103rd birthday of Begum Akhtar — born Aktharibai Faizabadi — one of India’s most iconic singers.
In spite of early personal tragedies, Begum Akhtar’s mother recognized her daughter’s gift at a young age. With the help of family members, she sent her daughter for vocal training with some of the Ustads (masters) of the time. Though her soulful and melancholic voice was featured in many movies, Begum Akhtar ultimately returned to classical music, where she composed many of her own melodies and steeped herself in the rhythm of ghazals.
After marrying, Begum Akhtar gave up singing. However in 1949, deteriorating health drew her back to her calling. Weeping tears of jubilation, she finally returned to a Lucknow studio to record and continued to share her gift with the world until her death in 1974. Her rich voice was comforting, particularly during the years India underwent upheaval caused by partition.
With nearly 400 songs to her credit, Begum Akhtar’s legacy shines on in the musical traditions she loved over her lifetime.
Posted: Tue Oct 17, 2017 4:39 pm
Bagong Kussudiardja’s 89th Birthday
On this date in 1928, Bagong Kussudiardja, better known as ‘Bagong,’ was born in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. A world-renowned choreographer, painter, sculptor, and poet who marched to the beat of his own drum, Bagong spent his formative years studying art, music, and Javanese court dance.
After Indonesia’s independence in 1945, Bagong yearned to expand on his classical training. He started by studying Japanese and Indian dance. From 1957-1958, he trained in the U.S. under Martha Graham, the legendary choreographer famous for her boundary-breaking techniques.
Back on home turf, Bagong incorporated those modern moves to further elevate traditional Indonesian dances. He established the Pusat Latihan Tari Bagong Kussudiardja (Center for Dance) in 1958, followed by the still-thriving Padepokan Seni Bagong Kussudiardja (Center for the Arts) in 1978. And he choreographed more than 200 dances in his creative, intricate style.
But choreography was just one part of the picture. Bagong was also revered for his batik oil paintings and watercolors. He worked in a myriad of styles, including impressionistic, abstract, and realistic.
Today’s Doodle illustrates Bagong in his element — paintbrush in hand, richly costumed dancers leaping for joy.
Happy birthday to this avant-garde Javanese artist.
Posted: Tue Oct 17, 2017 4:40 pm
Clare Hollingworth’s 106th birthday
Today’s Doodle offers a glimpse into the mind of one of the world’s most inspirational and pioneering journalists, Clare Hollingworth — a woman so keen for adventure, she kept her passport within an arm’s length at all times, just in case.
Just one week after joining The Telegraph, Clare showed the world why she was called “the doyenne of war correspondents.” Venturing alone across the Germany-Poland border, she was the first to scoop the start of World War II after a windy day blew apart hessian screens, revealing a mass of German troops preparing to invade.
Daring in her approach, Hollingworth often said she was happiest roaming the world, traveling light, and ready for danger. This spirit led her reporting across the world, from working with Jewish refugees in Poland, to covering the Greek and Algerian civil wars, to being the first person to interview Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, the shah of Iran.
Though much of her early work was not officially attributed to her, Hollingworth’s experience and bold career path led her to win Woman Journalist of the Year, James Cameron Award for Journalism, and a lifetime achievement award from What The Papers Say.
In commemoration of the gust of wind that led to her first scoop in 1939, we’re blowing out the candles for what would be Clare’s 106th birthday.
Guest artist Doodle created by Eleni Kalorkoti.
Posted: Tue Oct 17, 2017 4:41 pm
Fridtjof Nansen’s 156th Birthday
Today we celebrate legendary adventurer Fridtjof Nansen, who explored the world’s unknown terrain and broke new ground as an international humanitarian.
Born in Oslo, Norway in 1861, Nansen was gripped by a sense of adventure from a young age. He learned to cross-country ski as many as 50 miles in one day with minimal supplies — and sometimes with just his dog! His love of the outdoors led him to study zoology at the Royal Frederick University. In 1888, he became the first person to lead an expedition across the snow-capped interior of Greenland. One icy adventure was not enough: just a few years later, Nansen attempted to become the first person to reach the North Pole. Although the expedition was unsuccessful, he did go farther north in latitude than any other explorer at that time.
As World War I took hold in 1914, Nansen was forced to halt his explorations and focus on research at home. However, by 1920, his interests shifted from understanding the landscape of the world to influencing the international political climate. Nansen worked to free hundreds of thousands of prisoners of war and repatriate refugees. He created the Nansen Passport, a travel document that allowed stateless refugees to emigrate and resettle. Nansen was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1922 for helping those without a voice find a home.
Fridtjof Nansen began his career by shattering the boundaries of human exploration, and he brought the same courage and tenacity to his fight to support refugees.
Happy 156th Birthday, Fridtjof!
Posted: Tue Oct 17, 2017 4:42 pm
56th Anniversary of the Traffic Light Man
What began as a traffic safety measure in 1960s Berlin has become an iconic symbol of the city. Today’s Doodle by guest artist Laura Edelbacher celebrates the 56th anniversary of the Ampelmännchen (which translates to “little traffic light men”) who have guided Berlin’s pedestrians for decades.
On October 13, 1961, traffic psychologist Karl Peglau met with East Berlin’s traffic commission to present his recommendation for reducing accidents involving pedestrians. His research indicated that accidents could better be avoided if pedestrians had their own traffic lights to follow, instead of relying on the same signals used by drivers.
Karl proposed two symbols: a green figure mid-stride signaling it is safe to walk and a red figure with arms outstretched meaning “stop”. He gave the little characters distinguishing traits — including a large hat and pug nose — hoping to prompt an emotional response that would drive the intended pedestrian behavior.
The first traffic light men were installed in 1969 and were so popular they even showed up in children’s cartoons. After the Berlin Wall fell, a group of East Germans called “Rescue the Ampelmännchen” managed to save the symbols after the government attempted to remove them.
Happy 56th anniversary, Ampelmännchen!
Posted: Tue Oct 17, 2017 4:43 pm
Olaudah Equiano’s 272nd Birthday
Born in Nigeria, African writer and abolitionist Olaudah Equiano was sold into slavery as a boy. He braved the harsh conditions of the Middle Passage to the Caribbean and lived to tell his story.
Equiano was a seafarer, often working for captains and merchants. When given the chance to read and write, he learned swiftly. Equiano moved up the ranks, gaining rare promotions to seaman, then merchant. He carefully saved his earnings from side trades over the course of 3 years, eventually earning enough to buy his freedom.
Once a free man, Equiano published his memoir, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, which became one of the earliest bestsellers by an African author. The book detailed his life, travels, and the slave trade, helping to sway public opinion against slavery. He also founded Sons of Africa, an anti-slavery organization consisting of leaders in London’s black community, and gave lectures to the public and politicians.
Change due to Equiano’s efforts would come a decade after his death with the passing of Abolition of the Slave Trade Act in 1807.
As the UK celebrates Black History Month, we wish a Happy 272nd Birthday to Olaudah Equiano!
Posted: Tue Oct 17, 2017 4:45 pm
Celebrating Selena Quintanilla
Today we celebrate Selena Quintanilla: Mexican-American music & entertainment icon, fashion trendsetter, passionate entrepreneur, community philanthropist, and one of the people who taught me growing up that no matter who you are or where you come from, anything is possible.
Born in Lake Jackson, Texas on April 16, 1971, Selena’s talent shone from an early age. Strumming Nat King Cole’s “I’m in the Mood for Love” on guitar, Selena’s Father listened to his daughter sing along, and immediately knew the bright future before her.
With encouragement from their father, nine year old Selena and her older siblings A.B. (guitar) and Suzette (drums) formed the beginnings of the Tejano sensation Selena y Los Dinos. Born in Texas, Tejano music (or “Tex-Mex”) blends Mexican and American sub-genres like pop, polka, ranchera, and cumbia. Widely popular across the TX/Mexico border since the 1800s, Selena y Los Dinos’ infectious brand of Tejano music popularized the genre to audiences globally.
First playing at the family restaurant, quiceañeras, and fairs, the band’s humble beginnings - including sitting on equipment due to the lack of formal seating in their inaugural tour bus “Big Bertha - eventually led to high profile touring. But they also fought through hard times and adversity. In fact, Selena was frequently discriminated against in the male-dominated music genre, and some venues even refused to book the band for shows.
Despite all this, Selena’s talent, energy, and perseverance easily won the hearts of a rapidly growing fan base. In 1986 she was awarded the Tejano Music award for “Female Vocalist of the Year,” catapulting Selena y los Dinos to Tejano stardom. Other milestones followed, solidifying Selena’s legacy as “The Queen of Tejano.” She released her first studio album with Capitol EMI (self-titled “Selena”) on this day in 1989, consistently straddled the top of the billboard charts, and won a Grammy for best Mexican/American album of 1993 -- the first female and youngest Tejano artist to win the award.
Selena was also much more than a talented musician. A fashionista and trendsetter, she often designed and created entire outfits for her performance wardrobe. In her free time, she was also active in community service, including being a strong advocate for education.
Most importantly, Selena became a beacon of inspiration and hope for the Latinx, immigrant, and bicultural communities around the globe. Her story of embracing and celebrating all parts of her cultural heritage and persevering in the face of adversity forged an emotional connection with millions.
As the daughter of a Mexican immigrant single mom living in a small (primarily white) town in rural Texas, I was one of the people Selena and her legacy profoundly influenced. My love of music started with her. One of my dearest childhood memories is of my mom and I belting Bidi Bidi Bom Bom and Techno Cumbia in the family van during our annual road trips to Mexico. I even sang Selena classics in talent shows across northeast Texas [photo evidence below, courtesy of my Mom].
Aside from incredible dance moves and how to belt some serious notes, watching Selena taught me that being Latina was a powerful thing, and that with hard work and focus I could do whatever I set my mind to. Watching her showed me that this hybrid cultural identity of mine was a valuable gift I should embrace. Watching her made me proud of being Mexicana.
It’s incredible that Selena’s legacy grows even larger with time. She continues to show Latinx, immigrants, and bicultural communities around the world to be proud of who they are and to embrace their differences. Also, to work hard for your dreams because doing so makes your achievements that much more meaningful.
So the best thing I can say is thank you, Selena. Thank you for being a role model and a hero to a little Latina girl in Granbury, Texas. Thank you for teaching her that she could dream big and make it. And thank you for all the inspiration and joy your music and legacy continues to bring to the world.