Saturday, December 10, 2016

Caffè Sospeso

Today is Suspended Coffee Day, a holiday I really never heard about.  Coffee shops around the world are reviving an old Neapolitan custom, which involves paying it forward with coffee.



A customer orders one cup but pays the barista for two. This second cup - the "suspended coffee" - is served for free to someone who is down on their luck.


It's Santacon today



I must be on the 'naughty list' this year.  I didn't rant about the event because I was happy that the clowns were traipsing through hipster Brooklyn.  And what do I get - the amateur drinkers are back in Manhattan this year: worst, they will be in my neighborhood, stating at 10 AM. I will be in cranky old man mood this evening - be warned!


December 10, 1948 -
Another Preston Sturges Champagne cocktail laced with strychnine, Unfaithfully Yours, opened in the US on this date.



At one point the detective mentions "that Italian guy". He is referring to Arturo Toscanini, one of the world's most famous conductors, who at that time led the NBC Symphony Orchestra in weekly concerts on radio.


December 10, 1967 -
Good evening. I couldn't help noticing that you were making an unsuccessful suicide bid.

Peter Cook and Dudley Moore in their first starring comedy, Bedazzled, opened in the US on this date.



Dudley Moore adopted the alias Stanley Moon in this film after John Gielgud wrote him a letter of introduction because he was impressed with Moore's work in the stage revue "Beyond the Fringe". Gielgud obliviously referred to Moore as Stanley Moon in the letter, and an amused Moore adopted the name as an alter ego for the rest of his life.


December 10, 1968 -
A late Carol Reed musical adaptation of the Charles Dicken's classic, Oliver!, starring Ron Moody, Oliver Reed and Mark Lester, opened in the US on this date.



Although Ron Moody had played Fagin to great acclaim on the London stage, he was only allowed to repeat his performance in the film after Peter Sellers and Peter O'Toole had reportedly turned down the role.


December 10, 1974 -
Finding dead men like this ought make anyone frightened.



Ed Wood Jr., either the world's greatest visionary director or the worst filmmaker of all time, suffered a fatal heart attack on this date. At the time of his death, the industry newspaper, Variety, failed to run his obituary.


December 10, 1974
The classic disaster movie, Towering Inferno, opened in NYC on this date.



During filming an actual fire broke out on one of the sets and Steve McQueen found himself briefly helping real firemen put it out. One of the firemen, not recognizing McQueen, said to the actor, "My wife is not going to believe this", to which McQueen replied, "Neither is mine."


December 10, 1982 -
A paean to B movies, It Came from Hollywood, opened in the US on this date. (Do yourself a favor;  find some time today to watch the whole film if you haven't seen it.)



Sadly this was never released on DVD. Paramount had planned to release the film on DVD in 2002. Due to copyright issues with several of the clips featured in the film, the release was ultimately canceled.


December 10, 1984
On a very cold night in NYC, 32 years ago, Francis Ford Coppola's Cotton Club opened in NYC. I can remember waiting on line to see the film on the opening day.



The character of Dixie Dwyer is likely based on actor George Raft. Raft grew up dirt poor in New York's Hell's Kitchen. As a young man he worked as a driver/gopher for gangster Owney Madden (also depicted in this film). After his stint working for Madden he went to California and tried his hand at acting, eventually achieving considerable success playing tough-guy roles in various gangster movies, performances he based largely on Madden and Bugsy Siegel, with whom Raft was known to associate.


It been 32 years since Do They Know It's Christmas, the charity single by the all-star group Band Aid, was released.





As of the last check, The Band Aid/ Live Aid initiatives have raised over $200 million dollars. Not bad for basically a very crappy tune.


Today's Holiday special: Guest Programmer - The Sequel


Today in History:
December 10, 1520
-
The heretic Martin Luther burnt the papal bull (Exsurge Domine), on this date, issued by Leo X, demanding an end to his heresies. Luther had published 95 points against the practice of granting indulgences, and the Catholic Church only had 94 points in favor of them.

Although technically he was the winner, Luther was subsequently excommunicated.

Luther went away mad and started his own religion.


December 10, 1830 -
There is a solitude of space,   
A solitude of sea,   
A solitude of death, but these   
Society shall be,   
Compared with that profounder site,           
That polar privacy,   
A Soul admitted to Itself:   
Finite Infinity.




Poet Emily Dickinson was born in Amherst, Massachusetts on this date.  Only about 10 of her poems were published in her lifetime, and those were submitted for publication without her permission. After her death in 1886, more than 1,800 of her poems, which she had bound together in bundles, were discovered and published.


December 10, 1848 -
Napoleon III, Louis Napoleon Bonaparte (nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte), was elected president of France. By 1852, he dismantled the Republic and replaced it with the Second Empire of France, with himself as emperor.

This is what comes from being a Napoleon - give them an inch and they're declaring themselves emperor.


December 10, 1936 -
Edward VIII
, signed the letter of abdication to the English throne (which took effect on the next day,) to marry the twice divorced, horsey faced (and possibly transvestite)  - the woman he loved on this date.



Many in the government are secretly relieved, fearing they may have bet against Mrs. Simpson when she ran at the Royal Ascot.


December 10, 1958 -
Krishna Venta (born Francis Herman Pencovic) died in Chatsworth, California in a suicide bombing when two disgruntled former followers (Peter Duma Kamenoff and Ralph Muller) who, although never offering any documentary evidence to support their claims, charged that Venta had both mishandled cult funds and been intimate with their wives.


Venta's remains are only ever identified through dental records.

This is what comes from the laying on of hands with cult members' wives.


December 10, 1967 -
Soul singer Otis Redding plus four members of the Bar-Kays were killed when his airplane crashes into Lake Monona near Madison, Wisconsin on this date.



So, poor Otis was laid out all over the dock of the bay.


December 10, 1993 -
Adolf Hitler was baptized by proxy into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in their London temple on this date. Mormons also continued to vicariously baptism victims of the Holocaust over the strenuous objections of various Jewish groups such as the Simon Wiesenthal Center (even Simon Wiesenthal has had a baptism performed for himself after his death.)

There's nothing worse than finding out you've become a Mormon by proxy (especially if you're already dead and in heaven.)



And so it goes.


Friday, December 9, 2016

Your mail man has a job because of them.

The first Christmas card was created in England on December 9, 1843

Like most of us, Henry Cole, an Englishman, was too busy to write personal greetings for all of his Christmas greetings in 1843. Cole hired artist John Calcott Horsley to design a ready-to-be-sent card.



The hand-colored card Horsley designed was lithographed on stiff, dark cardboard and featured adults and children raising wine glasses in a toast. Some thought the card blasphemous with the family, surrounded with religious symbols, holding glasses of wine



Printed in an edition of 1,000, Horsley's card was sold in London stores. At the time, the greeting cards could be mailed for a penny each. Less than a dozen of those cards exists today. Printed cards soon became the rage in England; the controversy is thought to have helped promote Cole's idea.



December 9, 1902 -
A great deal of my mail comes from fans of the 'Oz' picture - fans of all ages. The scholarly, the curious, the disbelievers write and ask how? why? when? what for? did you fly? melt? scream? cackle? appear? disappear? produce? sky-write? deal with monkeys? etc., etc., etc.



Margaret Hamilton, celebrated character actress best known for her portrayal of The Wicked Witch of the West in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, was born on this date.


December 9, 1947 -
An oft forgotten holiday classic, The Bishop's Wife, starring Cary Grant, premiered in NYC on this date.



Originally Cary Grant played the Bishop and David Niven the Angel. When original director William A. Seiter left the film, Henry Koster replaced him and viewed what had been shot so far. He realized that the two were in the wrong roles. It took some convincing because Grant wanted the title role of the Bishop. He eventually accepted the change and his role as the Angel was one of the most widely praised of his career.


December 9, 1965 -
A pre-teen drama about the bi-polar kid and his wacky friends first experiences of the depressive nature of the holiday season premiered on this date -



Bill Melendez tried to talk Charles M. Schulz out of using Biblical references (especially Linus's speech) in this special. Schulz reportedly won him over by saying, "If we don't do it, who will?" As it turned out, Linus' recitation was hailed as one of the most powerful moments in the highly acclaimed special.


December 9, 1978 -
Nicolas Roeg's iconic thiller Don't Look Now, starring Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland, was released in New York City on this date.



Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie met for the first time on the set of this film. The first scene they had to shoot was the sex scene, as Nicolas Roeg wanted to "get it out of the way."


(Today's Special - The holiday can really bring you down)

Today in History:
December 9, 1783
-
The site of London's executions (via the gallows) was moved from Tyburn to Newgate. The public spectacle of prisoners' executions drew large crowds.



Out with the old, in with the new.


December 9, 1957 -
Donny Osmond was born on this date!



Still a little bit Rock and Roll.


December 9, 1968 -
The John Birch Society, is a political education and action organization founded by Robert W. Welch on this date.



The society supports associated with traditionally conservative causes such as anti-communism, support for individual rights and the ownership of private property.

If you think I'm going to make fun of them, given who the president-elect is, you've got another thing coming.


December 9, 1994 -
Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders was dismissed after suggesting discussion of masturbation in school classes on sexuality.









This gives rise to the euphemistic term "firing the surgeon general."


Useless Christmas Trivia:

The lighting of candles and decorating with candles has always been popular, but also one of biggest sources of danger during the Christmas holidays.



In 1895 a New England Telephone employee, Ralph Morris, while looking at the newly installed string of lights made for the telephone switchboard decided to take some home to decorate his tree with. And/or it may be attributed to Thomas Edison's partner, Edward Johnson for inventing the first string of lights around the same time Ralph, for safety reasons.

In 1923, after his daily scalp massage with Vaseline, President Calvin Coolidge started the annual tradition of the National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony on the White House lawn.



And so it goes


Before you go - I saw this funny video from the people at Bon Appetit about popular holiday dessert from the past 100 years -



I could not even pay my kids to try mincemeat pies.


Thursday, December 8, 2016

Ineffabilis Deus

I believe some of you are really going to need an old lady in church, saying the rosaries on a Thursday afternoon to explain this one to you:
December 8, 1854 -
Pius IX promulgates the doctrine of Immaculate Conception - the Virgin Mary is free from original sin (and not the other thing some of you think.)

Later, she achieves permanent fame when despite of her marriage, she finds herself in the family way by her acquaintance with a Supreme Being.


December 8, 1952 -
In some weird cosmic irony, the episode Lucy Is Enceinte first aired on CBS-TV ("enceinte" being French for "expecting" or "pregnant") on this date.



CBS would not allow I Love Lucy to use the word "pregnant", so "expecting" was used instead.


December 8, 1976 -
Asylum release the fifth studio album of the Eagles, Hotel California, on this date.



Hotel California would go on to sell 16 million copies in the U.S. and double that figure worldwide.


December 8, 1978 -
The EMI Film and Universal Pictures produced Michael Cimino film, The Deer Hunter, starring Robert De Niro, John Savage, Christopher Walken, John Cazale and Meryl Streep, premiered in Los Angeles on this date



Director Michael Cimino convinced Christopher Walken to spit in Robert De Niro's face. When Walken actually did it, De Niro was completely shocked, as evidenced by his reaction. In fact, De Niro was so furious about it he nearly left the set. Cimino later said of Walken, "He's got courage!"


The Canadian postal service has been giving Jolly Old St. Nicholas a helping hand. For more than 35 years, Canada Post has been helping Santa with his huge holiday volume of mail. Thanks to Canada Post's Santa Letter-writing Program, children can write to the jolly old fellow in virtually any language, including Braille, and receive a response in the same language.



Santa's correct address happens to be:

Santa Claus
North Pole H0H 0H0
Canada


(Please note the zip code)

Or you can get an e-mail from Santa at - Santa's corner. You better hurry though, Christmas is just around the corner (and if you are a kid - what the heck are you doing reading this blog, it's not appropriate for  you.  Although you could go into your parents room while they are sleeping and fill an envelope with those green pieces of paper in their wallets and send it to me at ...)

Today's holiday special - So this is Christmas


Today in History:
Henry Laurens, the Fifth President of the Continental Congress, became the first person to be formally cremated in the U.S. in 1792 on this date.

Things would have gone on in a more dignified manner if Mr Laurens was deceased at the time (just kidding - he was quite dead, especially after the cremation.)


December 8, 1793 -
Mme. du Barry, mistress of Louis XV, did not go quietly to that good death. On the way to the guillotine she continually collapsed in the tumbrel and cried "You are going to hurt me! Why?!" She became quite hysterical during her execution: "She screamed, she begged mercy of the horrible crowd that stood around the scaffold, she aroused them to such a point that the executioner grew anxious and hastened to complete his task."

Her last words to the executioner: "Encore un moment, monsieur le bourreau, un petit moment," (One moment more, executioner, one little moment) were her most famous.



How insensitive of her to be such a pain.


December 8, 1961 -
Conservative columnist Ann Coulter, was spawned on this day (Think the movie, Splice).

Let us remember that this woman suggested that ... Even Obama's staunchest supporters are starting to leave him. Last week Michelle Obama demanded to see a copy of his birth certificate.


December 8, 1963 -
Frank Sinatra Jr. was kidnapped at Harrah's Lake Tahoe, Nevada on this date. After Frank Sinatra paid the $240,000.00 random, Jr. was set free a few days later. It has always been speculated that Sinatra, Jr. cooperated with his abductors in their plot.



Frank Sr. was not happy. As punishment Frank Jr. was forced to become a fat, dumpy, bald headed guy who had to conduct the big band for Frank Sr. and all was well.


December 8, 1980 -
John Lennon was shot by a lunatic, Mark David Chapman, outside Lennon's apartment in New York City mere hours after receiving the Beatle's autograph.



Chapman was carrying around his dog eared copy of Catcher in the Rye.



For those of you who remember the book, I leave it to you to draw any conclusions.


December 8, 1982 -
Norman D. Mayer barricaded himself inside the Washington Monument and threatens to blow it up unless all nuclear weapons are dismantled. He was shot by police after 10 hours.

That's what you get for sticking up the largest prick in DC.



And so it goes


Before you go - It's apparently National Brownie day today, as opposed to 'Send Kevin the loose bills in your pocket day.'  According to several sources, Brownies seem to have made their first appearance at the Parker House Hotel in Chicago in 1893 celebrating the Columbian Exposition World’s Fair in Chicago, (you may find their original recipe for the brownies on the hotel's website.)


My contribution to the days' festivities is my family's recipe (if you need to bring a dessert somewhere this holiday season; this is the one.)