Hemingway and the Art of Impersonation

It’s a little slice of off-beat Americana that you may not know about: for the past 34 years in Key West, Florida, Sloppy Joe’s bar hosts an annual Hemingway look-alike contest.

Yes, you read that right. Hemingway, who was a noted resident of Key West, left a powerful and enduring legacy on the island he called homed. In return, the island commemorates him each year with a “Hemingway Days” themed celebration that celebrates, among other things, the birthday of Ernest Hemingway and his accomplishments as a writer and sportsman.

This year’s event will be held Tuesday through Sunday, July 15-20, 2014. The competition starts with the first preliminary round on Thursday, July 17th, second preliminary round on Friday, July 18th, and finals on Saturday, July 19th.

From each preliminary round finalists are chosen. The 2013 competition had 125 look-alikes taking the stage with 12 contestants from Thursday night preliminary and 13 from Friday night preliminary going on to the final round.

Hemingway impersonators and aficionados come to the island from across the globe. There is even an honorary society just for Hemingway look-alikes, called — you guessed it! The Hemingway Look-Alike Society.

Happen to be vacationing in Key West in mid-July? Why not grab your bearded grandpa, and head down to Sloppy Joe’s to join in on the festivities to celebrate and honor all that is right with Ernest Hemingway.





Cuba vs. the Internet

Here in America affordable and extremely available access to the Internet is a luxury many of us tend to take for granted. With our upcoming trip to Cuba getting closer every day, we decided to look into an issue in Cuba that will affect many of our fans going on the trip with us: the tightly controlled Internet access. Though Cuba has one of the most restricted accesses to the Internet in the world, characterized by a low number of connections, limited bandwidth, censorship, and high cost, there is still hope for those who travel to the country! Being knowledgeable of “the island of the disconnected” will of course make a trip to Cuba less of a shock for those who are technology savvy and dependent. We’ve compiled five need-to-know facts about the Internet in Cuba:

  1. Finding access is the toughest hurdle: approximately 25.6 percent of Cubans have internet access (most of which are government officials, academics, doctors, journalist, and the upper-class). Whereas in America Wi-Fi can be found on almost every corner and in every shop and hotel, this is not the case in Cuba. If you find a shop that offers Internet access it normally isn’t for free. In most cases you’ll pay between $6-$10 for a hour’s worth of access. You also need to be aware that the speed of connection will mostly likely be slow.
  2. Though there are obstacles, there are creative workarounds: When Cuban people do want information from the Internet the most popular way to gain this information is for people to download online articles onto thumb drives, then pass them around to friends and family. Those who have a cell phone can also use alternative ways to use social networks such as texting or “speak-to-tweet” systems. Many activists in Cuba use these methods of communication. If you want to use the “speak-to-tweet” system you can call a phone number in the U.S. and record an anonymous message that gets automatically converted to text and shared on Twitter and/or Facebook. These calls can possibly cost up to $1 per call depending on your cellular plan.
  3. Connection may be hard to come by, but there’s not much censorship: Since not many people have internet access in Cuba, the government doesn’t censor much, unlike countries like China. Most newspapers are available online and so are social networks Facebook and Twitter, though YouTube is not. The government only cracks down on blogs that are anti-Cuban government focused.
  4. The Cuban government is very present on the Internet: The government may limit Internet access, but not for themselves. Students from the University of Computer Sciences (UCI) of la Havana make up a 1,000-strong cyber militia that promotes the government of Cuba and has the objective of discrediting its critics.
  5. There are no cutting-edge surveillance systems: In many countries such as America our government has the most up-to-date surveillance systems; yet though the Cuban government seems as though they would also, there are only two Internet providers both state owned so therefore they don’t have to have the most relevant technology. Also, when using an Internet café Cubans have to sign in with their ID so anonymous use of the Internet is nearly impossible.

Cuba may not be the most perfect country in the whole world, but it is one worth visiting. Its beauty and history are worth getting passed a few days without internet access. Knowing what you’re walking into will help prepare any traveler for a smooth and untroublesome journey!

Drop us a comment if you have any thoughts on Cuba and the Internet, we’d love to hear what you think!

The Hemingway House in Cuba

Hello again!

As you know, the main stop on our Cuba trip is Hemingway’s former home. Recently, US Representative, Jim McGovern, visited the home to celebrate a joint U.S.-Cuban effort to preserve and digitize the Nobel Prize-winning author’s personal effects and writings.

According to Toldeo paper, The Blade, ‘scholars from both countries have been working together for more than a decade to preserve the home and its trove of documents, everything from bar bills and bullfighting tickets to personal notes and recipes.’ In fact, just last month, thousands of digital scans of Hemingway’s Cuba papers were made available at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston. The collection in Cuba includes ‘items such as the insurance for Hemingway’s 1941 Plymouth station wagon, his local firearms license and the telegram notifying him that he had won the 1954 Nobel Prize for Literature.’

Like the studio/barn here at the Hemingway Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center, Hemingway wrote parts of famous works while at the Cuba home. The Hemingway House in Cuba is located in a small, modest suburb of Havana named San Francisco de Paula – approximately 9 miles from the capital city. The house was first purchased by Ernest Hemingway in 1940.

We can’t wait to immerse ourselves even further into Hemingway’s history by visiting the house. For those of you who aren’t able to join us on the trip, here is a video of the home!

Naomi Wood & “Mrs. Hemingway”

For the short story competition that we at the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center are sponsoring, we racked our brains trying to figure out who would be a suitable judge. The competition, which is for undergraduate college students in the state of Arkansas, is a first (and hopefully not the last) for us at the  Museum. A list of names was suggested, but questions lingered. Would they come? Would they have time? Would they even care?

After much searching and research, when the London based author Naomi Wood name came up in suggestion a unanimous chorus of “YES!” rang out. Truthfully, Wood, the author of The Godless Boys and the highly critically acclaimed (and our personal favorite) Mrs. Hemingway contacted us via Twitter, where our relationship was born.

If you haven’t already read one of Wood’s novels then YOU SHOULD. Mrs. Hemingway tells the story of how it was to love, and be loved by, the most famous and dashing writer of his generation. Hadley, Piggott’s own Pauline, Martha and Mary; each Mrs. Hemingway thought their love would last forever; each one was wrong.

Told in four parts and based on real love letters and telegrams, Mrs. Hemingway reveals the explosive love triangles that wrecked each of Hemingway’s marriages. Spanning 1920s bohemian Paris through 1960s Cold War America, populated with members of the fabled “Lost Generation.”

A critic for a London paper, Metro, wrote that the book is: “a boozy whistlestop tour through all the best places to be in the first half of the 20th century, with the four brave women who took a ride on the mercurial Hemingway’s roller coaster.”

We must say that Wood’s writing is well-crafted and compelling, just as a dark side ripples below the seemingly picturesque and romantic surface that many hold to the Hemingway myth. She paints a gut-wrenching and beautiful portrayal what it was like to be a “Mrs. Hemingway.”


Hemingway & Hollywood

One of our favorite Hemingway inspired movies is the HBO film Hemingway and Gellhorn, directed by Phillip Kaufman. This film was inspired on the true events surrounding Hemingway’s stormy and short relationship with Martha Gellhorn; beginning when they first met in Key West in 1936 and ending around their divorce in 1945 (they were officially married in 1940).  Clive Owen and Nicole Kidman star as the writer pair.

The film has a marvelous historical narrative ranging from the Spanish Civil War to the Chinese Civil War, interspersed with turmoil at home in America.  Although it primarily focuses on the relationship Hemingway had with Gellhorn, but an appearance is made by Arkansas’s own Pauline Pfeiffer, who was elegantly portrayed by actress Molly Parker. Which begs the question — when will Hollywood ever make a film about Pauline and Ernest?

It isn’t for lack of a story — their relationship is chock-full of adventure and intrigue. It was in Spain in 1937, while still married to Pauline that Hemingway first started having a dalliance with Gellhorn, whom he married only a scant three weeks after divorcing Pauline. Her family also financially supported Hemingway while writing A Farewell to Arms. Portions of the book were even composed in the barn-studio here in Piggott, Arkansas, and (SPOILER ALERT!) Pauline’s difficult labor with one of their sons was the basis for Catherine’s death in the same novel.

If anything could be said it is that there is a rich source material just screaming for Hollywood to adapt. Maybe even Arkansas native Mary Steenburgen could be cast as Pauline, alongside Cory Stroll who previously appeared in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris as the great writer.

Yet, until some enterprising director or screen-writer comes around and pens the story, we will have to rely on a mixture of fantasy and imagination to help us narrate the incredible story that is Hemingway and Pfeiffer.



The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center is proud to announce our first annual “Short Story Contest!”

The first annual “Short Story Contest” was born from the minds of our Arkansas State University Public Relations consultants who are creating a campaign for us this semester.  We hope to have a great turn out for the contest this year and hope to advance it to other students who are out of state next year.  Our goal is to enrich the lives of students all over the state by allowing them the opportunity to have their work recognized at the state and national level.

The contest is open to undergraduate students of any major that attend an Arkansas university.  Submissions should be short story fiction (any subject matter), with a maximum page limit of five pagesNaomi Wood, renowned author of The Godless Boys and Mrs. Hemingway, has gladly agreed to be our judge for the contest.  To learn more about Wood please read her biography attached here: Naomi Wood Biography

If you’re an Arkansas college student we invite you to enter the contest and join us in this pioneering undertaking; if not please share this contest with an Arkansas college student you know and encourage them to enter.  It will be a great resume additive!

For additional information please read our Short Story Contest Flyer and Rules and Regulations.

We can’t wait to begin accepting admissions so hurry up and send them our way!  We’re looking forward to reading the original works of the best of the best Arkansas college students!

Drop us a comment if you like if you have any questions or thoughts; we love interacting with our fans.  And until next time, have a great weekend!


Hemingway’s Cuba


You may recall that we mentioned a trip to Cuba in our last post. Well let us tell you all about it. We are taking a trip to what we call, “Hemingway’s Cuba.” Hemingway lived there for 21 years and wrote seven of his novels during that time, including The Old Man and the Sea and Islands in the Stream. The trip will take place primarily in the beautiful city of Havana and the surrounding area, for seven days and six nights. (Don’t worry; it will be nothing like the film Six Days and Seven Nights.)

Not only will we be exposed to the incredible Cuban culture and history will we be interacting with local artists, musicians and farmers during our stay. Our main focus will be learning about the past and present restoration projects in Havana and touring various architectural marvels. Outside of Havana we will be making a stop at Cienfuegos, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Cienfuegos is considered the Capital of Urban Agriculture in Cuba.

It is our hope that we will be able to take an educational trip like this one every year or so. So if you missed us this time around, be sure to stay updated so you can go with us on our next great adventure!

Click on the photo to see a slideshow that LIFE Magazine put together of Ernest’s time in Cuba.


Until next time!

Let Us Introduce Ourselves.

We are delighted to welcome you to the official Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center blog!  We hope you decide to take a journey with us to explore, discover, and share breaking news and adventures concerning the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum.  With our upcoming trip to Cuba to visit the Hemingway House getting closer and closer each passing day, we can’t wait to share an abundance of information with you so you can prepare and partake in the exploration with us.  Even if you can’t physically join us on our expedition, we hope that you will travel with us spiritually; it’s going to be chock full of excitement, escapades, and discoveries beyond our wildest imaginations!

We encourage interaction, inquiries, comments, and sharing of thoughts, so don’t be shy; we want to hear what you think and what you enjoy most because it is our dearest hope that you will travel with us next year on another rip-roaring voyage.

Be on the look-out for our next post.  Adios until next time, amigos!