November 2nd, 2012
12:32 PM ET

In the company of (dead) presidents

While the mock Civil War troops camped outside the grand porch of a large house in Mentor, Ohio, on a chilly February day, a bearded man captured their attention.

"The president's here!" said the captain, as the figure of James A. Garfield made an impromptu check of the soldiers. The next day the story of the chance inspection was in the paper, and the dignified gentleman's telephone was ringing off the hook.

Thus began Ed Haney’s journey as a presidential re-enactor. It was quite fortuitous he grew that beard.

Haney has been portraying President Garfield for 25 years now. He is a living historian, and began his presidential journey as a favor to the curator of the James A. Garfield National Historic Site, the museum housed in the preserved home of the 20th US president. He studied up on the president, grew a beard, rented a costume and portrayed the assassinated leader for a fundraiser organized to help fix up the house Garfield lived in from 1876-1881.

Living historians are "dedicated to the preservation of history through correct presentations of life and the preservation of our country's landmarks, cemeteries, and battlefields," according to the National Society of Living Historians. They often participate in Revolutionary and Civil War reenactments or work in living museums such as Old Fort Niagara in New York or Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia.

Haney's fateful turn as Garfield developed into an interest he couldn't shake. "The more I started reading about him, the more I was fascinated by him," he said. Newly retired, Haney joined the museum in a more substantial way as a tour guide (in the guise of Garfield) and began collecting Garfield memorabilia. (His spare room is filled with Garfield mementos, including a 38-star US flag, the type that flew while Garfield was in office.)

Haney's enthusiasm for Garfield ultimately led him away from the museum to organize a troupe of like-minded re-enactors that call themselves We Made History.

Being a living historian can be a hobby or a career: Haney and his friends work as independent contractors, scheduling educational appearances at museums, schools and civic clubs. They earn money for their portrayals, but don't depend on their fees to make a living. While some living historians choose to recreate a persona based on their own personal family history or invent a character from the past, Haney's group chose very specific and recognizable figures from American history to bring to life.


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Game of Thrones fun to pass the time
Spanish illustrator Maria Perez Pacheco drew this homage to the characters from "Game of Thrones."
November 1st, 2012
06:06 PM ET

Game of Thrones fun to pass the time

What's up, Thronies?

I just finished "Dance with Dragons," the most recent book in the addictive and heart-wrenching series "Song of Ice and Fire," which is the basis of the thrilling and sexy HBO show "Game of Thrones."

"Winter is coming" (as they say in the series) in the Northern Hemisphere, and we'll have to get through the coldest months without any new information about our favorite characters from this series. Author George R. R. Martin hasn't announced when the next installment will come out (last time there were about seven years between books). As for TV, HBO isn't debuting Season 3 of the show until March 31.

What are we supposed to do until then?!

The internet is full of Thronie homages to the series. Here are some treats and ideas for your amusement: FULL POST

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