Friday, September 30, 2016

Jumping butterballs!

September 30, 1938 -
RKO Studios released the eighth Marx Brothers film, Room Service, on this date.



Although she seems much older and mature, Ann Miller was actually only 15 years old when she made this film. She had lied about her age and obtained a fake birth certificate when she was about 14 years old, which stated that she was 18. She was so tall, poised and beautiful that she pulled it off.


September 30, 1948 -
Howard Hawks released his iconic western, Red River, starring John Wayne and Montgomery Clift on this date.



Howard Hawks had great respect for John Wayne, even though many people didn't consider him a great actor. "He's a damn good actor. He does everything, and he makes you believe it," Hawks later commented.


September 30, 1952 -
The motion picture process Cinerama -- which employed three cameras, three projectors and a deeply curved viewing screen -- made its debut with the premiere of This Is Cinerama at the Broadway Theater in New York City on this date.



Cinerama technicians were working on the system right up to the last minute. The was no time for a trial run. It wasn't until the actual premiere in front of an audience that the entire presentation of this film, from start to finish, took place.



September 30, 1958 -
The first network series to be filmed entirely in New York City, the police drama, Naked City debuted on ABC-TV on this date.



Because the show was filmed in black and white on location in New York City, the police cars for the show were painted in false colors so that they would not be mistaken for real police cars.


September 30, 1960 -
The first prime-time animated series aimed at adults, The Flintstones, premiered on ABC-TV on this date.



Fred and Wilma Flintstone were the first married couple, ever, to be seen actually in bed together on US television.


September 30, 1982
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Cheers, the comedy television series that ran eleven seasons from 1982 to 1993, premiered on this date.



The series finished 77th - dead last - in the Nielsen ratings the week it debuted.


Today in History:
September 30, 1452
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It's the anniversary of the printing of the Gutenberg Bible in Mainz, Germany on this date. It was the first book ever printed with movable type. What made Gutenberg's invention revolutionary was not that it allowed you to print letters on paper, but that you could print an infinite number of different pages from a small number of letter blocks simply by rearranging them.

The first section of the Bible came out on this day. He printed 180 copies on expensive Italian paper. It was designed to be used for public reading in the dining halls of monasteries. But within three decades there were print shops all over Europe, and Gutenberg's invention launched a revolution in education.



Today about four dozen copies of the Gutenberg Bible survive. One of the most recent copies to come on the market was auctioned in New York in 1987 and sold for more than $5 million.


September 30, 1630 -
Pilgrim John Billington, who arrived on the Mayflower, was hanged at Plymouth for killing John Newcomen with a musket, on this date.

Billington was the first Englishman executed in New England.


September 30, 1846 -
On this evening in 1846, Mr. Eben Frost, suffering from a violent toothache, called upon Dr. William Thomas Green Morton. Dr. Morton administered ether and extracted the tooth.

Thus ether was used for the first time as an anesthetic on this date.


September 30, 1927 -
Babe Ruth hit his 60th home run of the season, on this day.



(Mark McGwire was born on October 1, 1963, however, so this no longer matters to some. Although, the Bambino was only hopped up on booze.)


September 30, 1938 -
The Germans occupied the Sudetenland in late summer of 1938. This enraged the British and the English, who both feared for the loss of the Sudetenland's celebrated pea crops.



British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain flew to Germany to meet Hitler at Bertesgaden to discuss the situation, on this date.



Hitler assured him that there would be plenty of peas to go around, and Chamberlain returned to England with the famous proclamation of Peas in Our Time. World War II was therefore avoided and did not break out until some time later.


September 30, 1955 -
Teen idol James Dean was killed in a car accident that probably could have been avoided if he had had his car inspected and tuned up regularly, obeyed all posted highway signs, and driven only when alert and sober on this date.



(Remember kids, if you are going to drink til you drop -  drop where you drink.)



And so it goes.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

It's National Coffee Day

If you love coffee (I don't), there are a bunch of places you can score free or very low cost cups of joe!


If you're passing through Penn Station today, Krispy Kreme is giving away a free (small) cup of coffee and a glazed donut. (You're welcome.)


For those of you not near your church calendar, today is the feast of St. Michael the Archangel. It's also known in England as Michaelmas Day.  St. Michael is the patron saint of the sea and maritime lands, of ships and boatmen, of horses and horsemen. He was the Angel who hurled Lucifer down from Heaven for his offenses against God.
There’s a legend concerning Lucifer falling into a blackberry bush after being expelled from heaven by St. Michael and spitting on the blackberries to make them bitter so that they cannot be picked after Michaelmas. So kids, unless you want a mouthful of Satan's saliva, don't eat those blackberries tomorrow (unless you're into that.)


September 29, 1948 -
Laurence Olivier's powerful interpretation of Shakespeare's melancholy Dane, Hamlet premiered in New York City on this day.



Laurence Olivier was 41 when Hamlet was released. Eileen Herlie, who played Hamlet's mother Gertrude, was 30. Herlie also played Gertrude on Broadway in 1964 with Richard Burton's Hamlet, which was filmed and shown in a limited release. Whereas she was 11 years younger than her "son" when Hamlet was played by Olivier, she was seven years older than Burton.


September 29, 1953 -
The family comedy Make Room for Daddy, starring Danny Thomas, premiered on ABC TV on this date.



Penney Parker beat a then-unknown actress named Mary Tyler Moore for the role of Terry. According to Danny Thomas, the only reason Parker got the part was because he felt Moore's nose looked different enough from his so that nobody would believe she was his daughter.


September 29, 1954
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The movie musical A Star Is Born, (the third version of the film, fourth, if you count What Price Hollywood) starring Judy Garland and James Mason, had its world premiere at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood on this date.



The film was re-edited several times. Premiering at 181 minutes, the studio (Warner Bros.) cut the film by 30 minutes despite the objections of director George Cukor and producer Sidney Luft (Judy Garland's husband). In 1983, all but 5 minutes of the cut footage was found and re-instated, but some footage had to be reconstructed using production stills.


September 29, 1954 -
United Artist released the Joseph L, Mankiewicz film, The Barefoot Contessa, starring Ava Gardner and Humphrey Bogart on this date. (If you haven't seen this movie, seek it out!)



Joseph L. Mankiewicz wanted James Mason, whom he had just directed in Julius Caesar, for the part of the nobleman. MGM executive Nicholas Schenck, who had had a vehement disagreement with the director, would not release Mason for the film. According to Mankiewicz, he ended up with Rossano Brazzi, "who cannot act, cannot be sensual... could hardly speak English..." Ironically, Rosemary Matthews, who was hired to help Brazzi with his English, and Mankiewicz later married.


September 29, 1955 -
The only film Charles Laughton directed, The Night of the Hunter opened in New York City on this date.



Charles Laughton reportedly worked well with the boy playing John, but did not get along with the girl playing Pearl and shouted at her on occasion. As Laughton had the camera continue to roll after the scenes were finished, the camera often caught her reacting to him. Some of these "out-takes" were used in the final editing process as reaction shots to the Preacher's character.


September 29, 1959 -
One of the first series that featured the lives of American teenagers, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, starring  Dwayne Hickman, Bob Denver and Tuesday Weld premiered on CBS-TV on this date.



The series served as one of the influences in the development of the Hanna-Barbara cartoon Scooby Doo, Where Are You!. In Scooby-Doo, the character of Fred Jones was based on Dobie Gillis; Velma Dinkley on Zelda Gilroy; Daphne Blake on Thalia Menninger, and Norville "Shaggy" Rogers on Maynard G. Krebs.


September 29, 1960 -
We were all welcomed into the Douglas household when My Three Sons, starring another of TV favorite alcoholic dads, Fred McMurray, premiered on ABC on this date.



The show was originally going to be named The Fred MacMurray Show, but Fred MacMurray didn't like the idea.


September 29, 1963 -
My Favorite Martian, starring Ray Walston and Bill Bixby premiered on CBS-TV on this date.



Ray Walston admitted that he regretted taking the role of Uncle Martin. Walston felt that the role typecasted him and prevented him from getting substantial roles for many years. He took the role because the salary afforded him and his family a comfortable lifestyle. He did enjoy working with Bill Bixby and two remained lifelong friends.


September 29, 1967 -
Gerry Anderson's supermarionation take on superheroes, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons premiered on this date in the UK.



According to Gerry Anderson on the DVD commentary for the Pilot episode The Mysterons were written as an invisible enemy because Gerry didn't want to offend any aliens if life were ever found on Mars.


September 29, 1985 -
The Sci-Fi anthology series created by Steven Spielberg, Amazing Stories, premieres on NBC-TV on this date.



The title is taken from a bi-monthly, Sci-fi journal famous in the 1940s and '50s and edited by TV and film writer Howard Browne.


Today in History:
September 29, 1399
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... For God's sake, let us sit upon the ground and tell sad stories of the death of kings...



Richard II was deposed on this date,which only served him right for having posed in the first place. He was succeeded by Henry IV Part I.


September 29, 1513 -
Spanish explorer Vasco Nunez de Balboa discovered the Pacific Ocean, on this date (although he may have discovered it four days earlier - I'm not sure what the Spanish Navy's stance was on the the whole rum ... question.)



How something that covers roughly a third of the earth's surface could have been lost for so long is a question that stumps historians to this day.


It's Miguel de Cervantes' birthday today. Born in 1547, Cervantes is best known as the author of Don Quixote, a cunning satire on mental illness. The work is an epic treatment of the perennial question, "wouldn't the world be better off if we were all crazy?"

The answer from the novel is a qualified yes: the story supports the premise, but its length and lucidity suggest that the author himself was not crazy, which contradicts the premise.



Ever since the publication of Don Quixote, the idea of improving through world through mental illness has taken root in the popular culture of the west. From the good soldier Svjek and Prince Myshkin to Chauncy Gardener, Elwood P. Dowd and Forrest Gump, western readers and filmgoers have a galaxy of benevolent lunatics to show them the way to a better, purer existence. Grand mal seizures, delirium tremens, and hallucinations are merely the price of admission to their wistful world of blissful ignorance.



The sane and hard-working do not come off nearly so well in film or literature. In fact, sane and hard-working people seldom even appear in film or literature. No one wants to read about them, or spend good money to watch them go about their plodding lives, because most of us are surrounded by sane and hard-working people already and know what they're like—they're just like us, only less so.



Early to bed and early to rise may make a man healthy, and wealthy, and wise, but it won't do a goddamn thing for his Nielsens. In fact, if you're healthy, wealthy, wise, and well-rested, you're only going to piss the rest of us off. Lighten up, slack off, drink up, and spend plenty of quality time with imaginary friends.



That's the real road to happiness—or at least our acceptance, without which you have no right to be happy.


September 29, 1957 -
An explosion at the Chelyabinsk-40 complex, a Soviet nuclear fuel processing plant, irradiated the nearby city of Kyshtym with strontium-90, cesium-137 and plutonium on this date.



This accident releases twice the radioactivity of the Chernobyl incident.

Oops


September 29, 1976
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At his birthday party, musician Jerry Lee Lewis accidentally shoots his bass player Norman Owens twice in the chest, trying to open a soft drink bottle with a .357 magnum. Owens survived and files a lawsuit.

Now don't you wish you were at that party !!!


September 29, 1988 -
Stacy Allison was one of several female mountaineers who took part in a competition to see who could be the first to climb Mount Everest.



After harsh weather conditions forced the other participants to turn around midway through their climb, Allison surprised many (including herself) by reaching the peak of 29,000 feet, being the first American woman to do so on this date.


September 29, 1989 -
Zsa Zsa Gabor, a person famous for no apparent reason and with no visible means of support (It's too weird to think that Zsa Zsa and her sisters were the original Kardashians, without the sex tapes), was convicted of slapping a Beverly Hills police officer on this date.



Gabor later complains that she was denied a jury of her peers, saying "It was not my class of people, There was not a producer, a press agent, a director, an actor."



And so it goes.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

National Drink Beer Day

As if Americans needed to be reminded to drink beer; the Oktoberfest season comes to an end and today is a great reminder to enjoy the world’s most popular adult beverage.



Today is also St. Wenceslaus' Day, patron saint of brew masters, named after Wenceslas I the Duke of Bohemia (commemorated in the song, Good King Wenceslas,) who was martyred on this date.


September 28, 1949 -
The first of the 12 films Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis made, My Friend Irma, premiered in New York City on this date.



Based on the popular radio program, Marie Wilson (Irma), Hans Conried (Prof. Kropotkin), and Gloria Gordon (Mrs. O'Reilly) reprise their radio roles. Conried replaced Felix Bressart, who was cast in the film but died during production.


September 28, 1963 -
Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales cartoon debuts on CBS-TV on this date.



This show was produced at the same animation studio as The Bullwinkle Show and other Jay Ward cartoons. Many of the same animators who had previously worked on some of the Jay Ward cartoons, worked on this. Since, the animation style is extremely similar, it is often packaged in syndication with the Jay Ward shows.


September 28, 1968 -
The Beatles' single, Hey Jude, went to number one on the Billboard Charts and stayed there for nine weeks. (Listen how the song starts with one instrument and the record ends with with 50 instruments playing.)



The Beatles inner circle was shifting when Paul McCartney wrote this song. John Lennon had recently taken up with Yoko and cast off his first wife, Cynthia; McCartney had broken off his engagement with his longtime girlfriend Jane Asher. He was the only Beatle to reach out to Cynthia and John's son, Julian at this time.


September 28, 1980 -
Billions and billions of brilliant moments on TV are about to be aired - Carl Sagan's 13 part Cosmos premiered on PBS.



The filming of the series lasted one year during which Carl Sagan and his production team traveled around the world, filming in places like India, Egypt, Italy, Cambodia, France, Alaska, Mexico and USA, among others.


September 28, 1987 -
Star Trek: The Next Generation premiered  on CBS-TV with the episode Encounter at Farpoint on this date.



When Gates McFadden originally signed on for the series, it was on the understanding that her character would ultimately become a romantic foil for Captain Jean-Luc Picard. This did not materialize and she was becoming increasingly frustrated with the lack of character development for Dr Crusher. Clashes with the producers led to her being released from her contract, hence Dr Crusher's absence from Season 2 and replacement by Dr Kate Pulaski, played by Diana Muldaur.


September 28, 1994 -
Tim Burton's love letter to the early career of Edward D. Wood, Jr., Ed Wood premiered on this date.



Initially, Bela Lugosi Jr. didn't want to see the film because he thought it wouldn't portray his father correctly, but upon further persuasion he saw the film, and agreed that Martin Landau honored his father in the performance. The two later became friends.


Today in History:
September 28, 48 BC
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Pompey was not having a great day today.

After the First Triumvirate of Rome (between Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, Julius Caesar, and Marcus Licinius Crassus) had fallen apart, the Roman civil war had not been going well for Pompey. After the catastrophic defeat to Caesar at the Battle of Pharsalus in 48 BC, he hightailed it to Egypt, where he had been employed as a protector. Upon landing in Egypt, Roman general and politician Pompey was murdered on the orders of King Ptolemy of Egypt. Pompey head was lopped off and sent to Caesar as an offering.



Ptolemy, reading the global tea leaves as much as 11 year olds can, thought to gain favor with Caesar, by killing Pompey. Ptolemy had misjudged the Roman sense of honor completely. Caesar demanded the assassins be executed, and had Pompey's head cremated with honor. Ptolemy was later deposed in favor of his sister, Cleopatra.


British history began on September 28, 1066, with the Norman invasion of England. The Normans were a group of Franks who'd grown weary of being so Frank. Their decision to become Normans cost them their Frankness, so they joined together and invaded England under the leadership of William (or, in Norman, "Norman") the Conqueror.



Prior to this invasion, Britain had been occupied mostly by Angles, Saxons, and large stones (who had never properly appreciated cricket, fog, or Kipling and had therefore been unable to invent England.) William (Norman) the Conqueror realized that, if it was ever going to amount to anything, what England really needed was a Great King, preferably someone very much like himself.

Appropriate arrangements were made.


September 28, 1850 -
The United States Navy abolished the practice of flogging. Among the crimes for which this was the penalty are: stealing poultry from the coop (12 lashes), being lousy (six), stealing a wig (12), and being naked on the spar deck (nine).




I believe nine lashes for being naked merely encouraged most of the men.


September 28, 1902 -
It's the birthday of Ed Sullivan, born in New York City on this date. He was writing a gossip column for the New York Daily News called "Little Old New York," moonlighting now and then as a master of ceremonies at variety shows and benefits. He was emceeing a dance contest when somebody asked him if he'd like to try hosting a show on this new thing called television.



The Ed Sullivan Show premiered live on CBS in 1948, and within a few years about 50 million people watched it every Sunday night. It was like vaudeville. It had opera singers, ventriloquists and magicians and pandas on roller skates and big stars. Ed Sullivan said, "Open big, have a good comedy act, put in something for children, and keep the show clean."



He was a shy, awkward man, but he loved performers. He personally chose every guest for his show. He was one of the first hosts to invite black performers, including Jackie Robinson, Duke Ellington, Richard Pryor and James Brown, on his show.



Ed Sullivan: the last television host who tried to appeal to everyone in America.


September 28, 1920 -
A Cook County grand jury indicts the White Sox players paid to throw the 1919 World Series to the Cincinnati Reds on this date.



Even though they are found not guilty, Baseball Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis bans them all from professional baseball for life.


September 28, 1963 -
Roy Lichtenstein’s pop art work Whaam!, depicting in comic-book style a US jet shooting down an enemy fighter, is exhibited for the first time on this date.



In time, it will become one of the best known examples of pop art.


September 28, 1964 -
Let's put it this way: I don't have a good work ethic. I have a real casual relationship with hours. I don't understand why, in entertainment, the hours are as long as they are. It seems like everything takes forever, and no one can tell you why, exactly.



Janeane Garofalo, comedian, actress and writer was born on this date.


September 28, 1978 -
A nun at the Vatican discovered the lifeless body of Pope John Paul I, formerly Albino Luciani, in bed. The pontiff had been on the job only 33 days before unexpectedly dying in his sleep, after having taken some sort of pills with dinner.



The church refused to grant an autopsy.

See Godfather III for further explanations.


September 28, 1989 -
Former Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos died in Waikiki, Hawaii, after three years in exile on this date. He was in ill health and awaiting US charges on looting funds from his country.

His wife keeps the cadaver in a refrigerated coffin for years.

(Wow, this is the second time in about a week that I've mentioned the Popsicle ex-dictator.)


September 28, 2008 -
The world's first private spaceship went into orbit, on this date, when the Falcon 1 was launched by SpaceX, a company founded by Elon Musk.



The entire launch was broadcast live from Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific Ocean.



And so it goes.