" It is art that makes life, makes interest, makes importance…and I know of no substitute whatever for the force and beauty of its process. "
Henry James

Back in the day


The Day the Music Died

During an extensive tour of the midwestern US, American rock-and-roll musician Buddy Holly chartered a small plane to transport him to his next gig. Fellow performers Richie Valens and J.P. Richardson, who was known as "The Big Bopper," filled the remaining seats. Tragically, the plane crashed, killing everyone on board. The event was later called "the day the music died" by Don McLean in his song "American Pie." Which of the passengers was said to have won his seat on the plane by a coin flip?



The Venera Program

The Venera Program consisted of a series of unmanned Soviet planetary probes sent to Venus between 1965 and 1983. Venera 2 flew to within 15,000 miles (24,000 km) of Venus in 1966. A few days later, Venera 3 crash-landed on its surface, becoming the first spacecraft to strike another planet. Later missions analyzed Venus's atmosphere, made soft landings, and mapped and sent back the first close-up photographs of some of the planet's surface. What does Venera mean in Russian?

Born on a day like today


Gertrude Stein

Stein was an American avant-garde writer and notable patron of the arts. While she was living in Paris, her home became a salon for leading artists and writers, including Picasso and Hemingway. An early supporter of Cubism, she tried to parallel its theories in her work, employing a unique prose style characterized by the use of repetition, fragmentation, and the continuous present. Her only book to reach a wide audience, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas was actually about whom?

Last updated on Thursday, 3rd February 2011

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