Friday, September 21, 2018

The comedy of Lady Mary Wroth, written 400 years ago, was finally performed in public

It took 400 years, but the play “Love’s Victory” by Lady Mary Wroth is finally performed. It is one of the oldest comedies in existence that was written by a woman. The comedy in five acts deals with love and betrayal.

Lady Mary Wroth is a member of a famous literary family. Her father, Robert Sidney, was a poet as well as a statesman. Mary was highly educated and the first woman to get literary recognition for her novel “The Countess of Montgomery’s Urania” written in 1621. She was also a recognized poet.

Mary wrote “Love’s victory” in 1617 and it was intended to be read or performed in closed circles. At that time, it was unimaginable that any play written by a woman, even if she was an aristocrat, would be performed played female characters. This only changed under King Charles II.

There were two performance of the comedy that took place in Penshurst Place, an estate n Kent owned by Lady Mary’s descendants. Penshurt use to be a hunting lodge of King Henry VIII. The fact that her play was finally performed, is due to the efforts of Alison Findlay, a professor of English Literature at Lancaster University. Findlay had been specializing in literary works of Shakespeare’s female contemporaries for the last 25 years. For a long time, the play was considered to have been lost.

Friday, May 11, 2018

In The Mood for a Topnotch Wine? Bid on the “Oldest Wine in the World” Dating Back To 1774

If you enjoy vintage wines and have money to burn, you might want to head to Paris. Three of the oldest bottles of wine known to man are being put up for auction. The three bottles contain a so-called “vin jaune” (yellow wine) that originated in the Jura in the east of France. Wine from this region is known as the “wine for kings and the king of wines”.  The bottles are expected to fetch thousands of Euro, so bring your checkbook! To put it in perspective: In 2011 and 2012, two bottles from the same stock were sold for Euro 57,000 and 38,000 respectively.

These 1774 bottles are estimated at Euro 20,000 each, but are expected to fetch at least double that amount. The bottles have a content of 87 cl and were in the possession of the descendants of Pierre Vercel, a renowned vintner from the 17th century. The three bottles are the last ones of its kind that the family possesses.

If you wonder about the quality, no worries there. Back in 1994 a bottle of the same ‘batch’ was opened, tasted and rated by a group of scientist, wine experts and viticulturists. The wine was rated as being “excellent”. The wine was described as having a “gold and amber color with accents of nuts, herbs, curry, cinnamon, vanilla and dried fruit.” It scored 9.4 out of 10.

Fun fact: Louis Pasteur owed his admission in 1881 to the prestigious Académie Française to a bottle of 1774 vin jaune.  According to legend, Pasteur a friend of Vercel’s grandchildren.

Apart from the three 1774 wine bottles, another 99 bottles (no joke!) from the cellars of Vercel’s descendants are up for auction. The auction will take place on May 26 in Lons-le-Saunier, a city in the east of France.

Image courtesy of AFP

Monday, October 23, 2017

Donkey Business - When Vitus the Donkey Met An Orange DeLorean Car

Image courtesy of ©Markus Zahn, picture-alliance/dpa

Vitus the Donkey nibbled on an orange DeLorean causing damage that accumulated to Euro 5,800.
Since the value of the car is Euro 310,000, the owner was Not Amused and wanted to be compensated for the damage. Not unreasonable, since the donkey took a bite through the fence of his firmly locked pasture.

The owner of the DeLorean, Markus Zahn (owner of Weinhaus Zahn), first asked the owner of the nibbling donkey to reimburse him for the damage. Please note: he only asked for the reimbursement of the material damage, not for any additional damages. The owner of the donkey refused, so (to the surprise of Mr. Zahn), it ended up in court. The Vitus owner’s defense: Mr. Zahn was stupid to park his expensive car that close to the fence. In other words: his fault.

The District Court of Gießen ruled that Vitus, the nibbling donkey, did indeed bite the car twice in September 2016 through the fence, resulting in damages of Euro 5,800 Euro. Since the fence was obviously not equipped to contain the appetite of Vitus the Donkey, his owner is therefore liable. Hence, the owner has to pay, even if Vitus might have taken the orange luxury car for a juicy carrot…
For the animal lovers among the readers: Vitus is currently owned by a lovely lady who takes the nibbling obsession of Vitus with humor. “Yes, he nibbles on everything, as you can see on the fences here.” 

The owner of the DeLorean does not have any hard feelings regarding the donkey, and even petted him despite the fact that Vitus never apologized to him…

Needless to say, Vitus became a media star, in my humble opinion with more reason than the whole Kardashian clan thrown together…

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Google Has a Sense of Humor

Google has a sense of humor. When Alphabet announced that it would buy back part of its own shares, it looked like a standard announcement.

Companies regularly buy back their own stock when they have a lot of money in their coffers or when they have the feeling that their stock in undervalued. 

But what is hilarious in this case is the price of the buy back: USD 7,019,340,976.83.

This number is the sum of 26 (the number of letters in the current alphabet) to the power of the mathematical constant e times one million. It would have been easy (and so boring!) to announce a price of USD 7b, so why not throw in another USD 19m plus to have some fun? Especially when money is not an object!

It is not the first time that Google has some nerdy fun, just look at the name Google itself. It’s a play on the words “googol” which stands for the number 1 with one hundred zeros. It is not the first time that Alphabet had this kind of fun. In 2015, it bought back shares in the amount of USD 5,099,019,513.59. That number is the square root of 26 times one million.

When Google went public, the intention was to raise USD 2,718,281,828 which is 1 billion times the mathematical constant e. Google obviously has a thing for this constant, it also used it when is made its offer of USD 3.14b for Nortel Networks. Unsuccessfully so, the Nortel’s patent portfolio was sold for USD 4.5m.

Stay tuned for the next nerdy announcement!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The War of the Book Fairs

Promoting your book is already difficult, and the War of the Book Fairs in Italy does not help. If we take a closer look, we notice that Italians just love to bicker about soccer, women, politics and any other controversial subject. The German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe already noticed during his Italian travels that “it is incomprehensible how anyone gets along with another person, since quarreling seems to be common denominator among all social classes.

In recent year, the all-powerful Milanese publishers want to make money by creating their own book fair. It would compete with the Salone del Libro in Turin, which after the Frankfurter Buchmesse (The book fair in Frankfurt), it is one of the most prominent book fairs in Europe.

However, during the last few year, Milanese publishers wanted to leverage their success with their own book fair. This in turn triggered the War of the Book Fair Giants. The Italian Minister of Culture acted as the peace maker. He suggested to have the book fair at two cities simultaneously. But cooperation and compromise are not the strong points of Italians, as shown in the 63 governments elected in 69 years…Milan stuck to its guns and the mayor Turin pointed out that Milan organizes the number 1 book fair. The Minister of Culture commented that this is the way wars start, by this kind of rigid attitudes.

So what does this mean in the long run? As a book lover, writer or publisher, visit any well-organized book fair you can. This could mean that you have to buy a ticket to the book fair in Frankfurt, followed by one to Milan as well as Turin. All in all, not too shaby methink.