Friday, August 18, 2017

Something always happens everyday

After invading Denmark and capturing Sweden, Charles XII of Sweden forced Frederick IV of Denmark to sign the Peace of Travendal, on this date in 1698 - but you don't care. Today is National Bad Poetry Day in the United States.



There's a very fun website will generate on command a great deal of very bad poetry here.


August 18, 1957 -
Denis Colin Leary,
actor, comedian, writer, and director was born on this date.



His interest in the perils of firemen and his co-creation of the series Rescue Me stemmed from a tragic 1999 warehouse fire in his hometown of Worcester, Massachusetts, that took the lives of six firemen, including his cousin and a childhood friend.


August 18 1989 -   
Columbia Pictures
released Brian DePalma's memorable war drama, Casualties of War, starring  Michael J. Fox, Sean Penn, John C. Reilly, and John Leguizamo, in the US on this date.



Brian De Palma said that he had been trying to make this film since 1969 when he first read the Casualties Of War article in The New Yorker. But with the Vietnam War still going on, there was no way that was going to happen, even for many years after it ended.


August 18, 1993 -
Woody Allen
reunited with one of his favorite actress, Diane Keaton when Sony Pictures released Manhattan Murder Mystery in the US on this date.



Manhattan Murder Mystery was actually the generic working title during production--Woody Allen films usually have generic titles during production like "Woody Allen Fall Project"--but since no new title could be thought of, Allen decided to leave that as the title.


It's always 5 PM somewhere


Today in History:
August 18, 1227
-
Genghis Khan died in his sleep, after a fall from his horse on this date. His old age and drinking probably contributed to his death.



(or perhap a Tangut princess, to avenge her people and prevent her rape, castrated him with a knife hidden inside her - ouch) , which the Mongols manage to keep secret for some time. Apparently, it was only just announced.


August 18, 1503 -
... In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder, bloodshed — they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock....



Pope Alexander VI (a Borgia) died on this date. He was the father of seven illegitimate children, and during his reign chose as his lover the lovely sixteen year old Guilia Farnese. He is said to have uttered the last words "Wait a minute" before expiring. (Interesting aside - before the pope could be properly buried, his corpse bloated then exploded.  Share that at the dinner table tonight.)


August 18, 1590
-
Sent to England to get supplies three years prior, John White finally returns to Roanoke Island and discovers his colony "strongly enclosed with a high palisade of great trees, with [curtain walls] and [bastions] -- very fort-like."



There is no sign of the settlers or where they may have gone, but carved in the bark of one of the trees is the word CROATOAN.

Luckily, REDRUM wasn't carved in the trees, because that would have been scary.


August 18, 1920 -
When Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the 19th Amendment to the Constitution on this date, all American women were guaranteed the right of to vote.



It appeared that the amendment might fail by one vote in the Tennessee house, but 24 year-old Harry Burn surprised observers by casting the deciding vote for ratification. At the time of his vote, Burns had in his pocket a letter he had received from his mother urging him, "Don't forget to be a good boy" and "vote for suffrage."


August 18, 1936 -
Robert Redford, American actor was born on this date.



He is the founder of the Sundance Film Festival, which he named after his character from the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. He set up the Sundance Film Institute in Utah for independent filmmakers and in 1997 announced the creation of Sundance Cinemas, a venture with a major distributer to set up a chain of theaters for the screening of independent films.


August 18, 1940 -
King George VI felt bad that his brother The Duke of Windsor hadn't really found work after resigning from his previous job, as King Edward VIII of England (but that's another story,) and had him installed as Governor of the Bahamas, on this date.



Edward continued as governor of the Bahamas until 1945. Afterward, he and his wife spent the remainder of their lives essentially in retirement, waiting for death.

Not a particularly happy ending for a fairy tale.


August 18, 1958 -
... Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul....



Lolita, a novel by Vladimir Nabokov, first written in English and published in 1955 in Paris, later translated by the author into Russian, was finally published on this date in New York. The novel is both internationally famous for its innovative style and infamous for its controversial subject: the book's narrator and protagonist, Humbert Humbert, becoming sexually obsessed with a 12-year-old girl named Dolores Haze.


August 18, 1963 -
James Meredith
graduated with a political science degree from the University of Mississippi on this date; he was the first African-American to do so.

He continued on to earn a law degree from Columbia in 1968.


August 18, 1999 -
A giant black rainbow encircled the Earth, sucking all oxygen from the atmosphere. The air returns shortly thereafter, but only after millions die from asphyxiation. On the bright side, the survivors go on to build a Utopian civilization.



It all happens precisely as predicted in the 1950s by Criswell, the TV psychic immortalized in the movie Plan 9 from Outer Space. If you don't remember this happening, fear not, our new alien Overlords deemed you too stupid to handle this terrifying information and had you anally probed to erase your memory.



It's much too complicated to explain to the likes of most of you.



And so it goes.


Before you go - having intermittent connectivity issues with the internet - it is possible that I may not be able to post until Monday.  We'll see.

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

I'm wearing second hand hats

August 17th
Today is National Thrift Store Day.  ReuseNYC, is promoting National Thrift Store Day by encouraging everyone to shop secondhand in New York today.



Hey, it's not always the highest quality, but the price is right.


(Remember the dog days are over.) The term Cat Night harks back to a rather obscure old Irish legend concerning witches and the belief that a witch could turn herself into a cat eight times, but on the ninth time (August 17), she couldn’t regain her human form.

This bit of folklore also gives us the saying, “A cat has nine lives.” Because August is a yowly time for cats, this may have prompted the speculation about witches on the prowl in the first place.


August 17, 1908 -
Fantasmagorie
, film historians site as the first fully animated film in history, was exhibited for the first time ever at the Théâtre du Gymnase in Paris, on this date.



To make this film, the director, Émile Cohl placed each drawing on an illuminated glass plate and then traced the next drawing-with variations-on top of it until he had some 700 drawings.


August 17, 1934 -
MGM released its version of Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, starring Wallace Beery, Jackie Cooper and Lionel Barrymore, on this date in NYC.



Wallace Beery was going to appear in a 1920 silent production of Treasure Island for Paramount but was replaced at the last minute by another actor.


August 17, 1959 -
Kind of Blue
, Miles Davis' brilliant and influential jazz album, was released on this date by Columbia Records.



It has been regarded by many critics as the greatest jazz album of all time.


August 17, 1960 -
A great George Pal sci-fi classic, The Time Machine was released on this date.



Yvette Mimieux was actually underage when shooting began (she turned 18 during the shoot) and was not legally supposed to work a full shooting schedule, but did. She was inexperienced - as she worked on this film she kept getting better and better so that by the end of the shoot they wound up going back and re-shooting some of her earliest scenes.


August 17, 1979 -
Handmade Films released the classic religious satire film, Monty Python's Life of Brian in the US on this date.



After the first take of the scene where a nude Brian addresses the crowd from his window, Terry Jones pulled Graham Chapman aside and said "I think we can see that you're not Jewish", referring to Chapman being uncircumcised. It was corrected in subsequent takes with a rubber band.


August 17, 1986 -
Pixar Animation Studios released its first film, Luxo Jr., directed by John Lasseter.



The film sent shock waves throughout the industry. At the time most animators were fearful of the computer; Luxo Jr. made them appreciate that it was just another tool.


Another ACME PSA


Today in History:
August 17, 1807
-
Robert Fulton's North River Steamboat began heading up New York's Hudson River on its successful round-trip to Albany. It was the first vessel to demonstrate the commercial use of a steam engine for river transportation.

For some unknown reason, a friend and biographer of Fulton incorrectly referred to the steamboat as 'The Clermont' and the wrong name has stuck ever since.


August 17, 1892 -
Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before.



Brooklyn's own, Mae West, actress in burlesque, vaudeville, Broadway, and movies, was born on this date.


August 17, 1896 -
Bridget Driscoll
, a 44-year-old mother of two, becomes the world's first automobile fatality when she steps in front of a car outside the Crystal Palace in London. At the coroner's inquest, Arthur Edsall stated he had been driving at only 4 mph.

The motorist also claims that when he saw the pedestrian, he rang his bell and shouted "Stand back!" For whatever reason, the coroner accepts Edsall's preposterous story.


August 17, 1929 -
James Horace Alderman
, convicted of murdering two Coast Guardsmen and a Secret Service agent in 1927, was hanged at 5:00 a.m. at Coast Guard Base 6 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on this date. It was reported in the media that Alderman's neck was broken and he died a painless death.

Unfortunately, Alderman kicked and strangled for a full twelve minutes before being pronounced dead by a local doctor. He was the only person ever executed on Coast Guard property.

And I always thought seamen knew how to tie knots.


August 17, 1943 -
Robert DeNiro
, American actor, was born on this date.



He and Martin Scorsese were brought up blocks apart in the Greenwich Village area of Manhattan, but never formally met when they were young. When introduced at a party in 1972, the two came to realize that they had seen each other many times but had never spoken.


August 17, 1945 -
... All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others....



Animal Farm by George Orwell, the most famous satirical allegory of Soviet totalitarianism, was first published, on this date.


August 17, 1948 -
Scientology
founder L. Ron Hubbard was arrested for passing bad checks in San Luis Obispo, California, on this date.  In court a fortnight later, Hubbard pays the $25 fine.

If I say anymore, I might be forced to watch several new releases starring little Tommy Cruise.


August 17, 1980 -
Dingos snatch baby Azaria from a campground near Ayers Rock, Australia, on this date. Her mother, Lindy Chamberlain (Meryl Streep - A dingo ate my baby), is later convicted of murder and spends three years in prison, but the conviction is ultimately overturned.



Apparently there have been a number of baby/dingo incidents over the years; dingos cannot differentiate animals from humans. Finally, Ms. Chamberlain was cleared of any wrong doing in regards to the death of her daughter.


August 17, 1987 -
Rudolf Hess
was found hanged by an electrical cord at Spandau prison,aged 93. He had been incarcerated there for 40 years, 21 of those years as the solitary inmate.



In 1941 Hess flew to Scotland with ideas of peace in his head, making Hitler very very upset.


August 17, 1998
-
President Bill Clinton became the first sitting president in American history forced to testify in a criminal case investigation of which he was the focus (having sex with Monica), on this date. Other presidents before Clinton had testified before grand juries in the past, but they had always done so to give evidence against others.



Thomas Jefferson testified against former Vice President Aaron Burr. Gerald Ford testified in a trial of a man who had tried to assassinate him. Jimmy Carter testified in the bribery trial of a financier named Robert Vesco. But Clinton was the first sitting president ever to be served a subpoena to testify in his own indictment.



Perhaps the President was celebrating the anniversary (August 17, 1992) of Woody Allen admitted to being romantically involved with Soon-Yi Previn, the adopted daughter of Mia Farrow, (his longtime companion.)


August 17, 2008
American swimmer Michael Phelps became the first person to win eight gold medals in one Olympic Games on this date.



Phelps win of the eight gold medals surpassed Mark Spitz for the most golds by an athlete at a single Games.


And so it goes.


Before you go - Puddles covers the Lou Reed song, Perfect Day -



Even if you didn't have a good day today, you'll have a perfect day after listening to this.


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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

you may scream your head off and it's not for ice cream

Each year on August 16th, many people at amusement parks and theme parks across the country participating in National Roller Coaster Day which is celebrated on this date.



J.G. Taylor received one of the earliest patents (US patent #128,674) for an inclined railway in 1872.  In 1878, Richard Knudsen received a patent (US #198,888) for an inclined-plane railway.  For years, history has believed the first roller coaster in America designed by LaMarcus Thompson, opened at Coney Island on June 16, 1884.

An article was discovered reporting the anticipated excitement of J.G. Taylor’s elevated railway in 1872 at Rocky Point, Rhode Island. According to the Providence Evening Press from June 18, 1872, the reporter describes a ride of 400 feet where nine passengers are given a shove and gravity does the rest. 

So whenever the roller coaster was first in operation, get out and enjoy the ride.



August 16, 1930 -
Fiddlesticks, was Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's first sound cartoon. It is about a happy-go-lucky, needy frog, named Flip the Frog.



This cartoon was created by Ub Iwerks in 1930. He had drawn a frog and his girlfriend in Night, one of the last Silly Symphonies short films he drew while working for Walt Disney.


August 16, 1940 -
The first of Alfred Hitchcock's war-time thrillers, Foreign Correspondent, starring Joel McCrea, Laraine Day and Herbert Marshall, premiered on this date



Shooting on the film was completed on May 29, 1940, after which Alfred Hitchcock made a visit to England. He returned on July 3 with the word that the Germans were expected to start bombing at any time. Ben Hecht was hurriedly called in and wrote the tacked-on final scene set at a London radio station. It was filmed on July 5, and the real-life bombing started on July 10, 1940.


I hope that I inspire women to believe in themselves, no matter where they come from; no matter what education they have; what particular background they originate from.



Happy Birthday to the Material Girl.


August 16, 1976 -
ABBA
release Dancing Queen, the most popular single of the 70s, in Sweden on this date.



The song was conceived as a dance song with the working title Boogaloo. ABBA members Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson drew inspiration from the 1974 George McCrae disco hit Rock Your Baby, and from the drumming on the 1972 album Gumbo by Dr. John.


Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar


Today in History:
August 16, 1819 -
Sixty cavalrymen charge into a crowd of approximately 70,000 protesters at St. Peter's Field in Manchester, England on this date.



The soldiers began to hack away at the people with their sabers and trample them under hoof. Eleven died and 400 were wounded in the Manchester Massacre, also called the Battle of Peterloo.


August 16, 1858 -
U.S. President James Buchanan inaugurates the new transatlantic telegraph cable by exchanging greetings with Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom.



However, once again America was ill advised by the request for Prince Albert in a can: Victoria was not amused. The cable stretched from Valentia, Ireland to Trinity Bay, Newfoundland, Canada but failed after only five days and was discontinued being used by September of that year. The first permanent telegraph line across the Atlantic Ocean was laid in 1866.


August 16, 1938 -
Blues musician Robert Johnson, who presumably sold his soul to the devil (the story was referred to in the movie Crossroads), was poisoned by a jealous husband in Three Forks, Mississippi and died on this date.



Besides being a seminal figure in the history of the Blues, Johnson is often cites as an early influence in the development of Rock and Roll.


August 16, 1948 -
Famed booze hound, skirt chaser and home-run slugger George Herman "Babe" Ruth died at age 53 in New York City.



He is credited with turning baseball from a game of speed and skill to one of power.


August 16, 1954  -
Sports Illustrated was first published by Time Inc. on this date.  It was claimed that 250,000 subscriptions had been sold before the first issue came off of the presses.

The magazine would become the most recognized, widely read sports periodical in the English language. The magazine is currently read by more than 23 million people each week and has more than 3 million subscribers.


August 16, 1956 -
Bela Lugosi, Broadway star, Hollywood star, portrayer of the undead in countless films and formaldehyde connoisseur, died of a heart attack on this day while lying in bed in his Los Angeles home. He was 73.



Bela Lugosi was buried wearing one of the many capes from the Dracula stage play, in the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California. Contrary to popular belief, Lugosi never requested to be buried in his cloak; Bela Lugosi, Jr. has confirmed on numerous occasions that he and his mother, Lillian, made the decision.


August 16, 1977 -
Elvis Presley died (or not) in his home at the age of 42, while sitting on the toilet. While doing his business, he had been perusing The Scientific Search for the Face of Jesus. Presumably, Elvis' search was concluded shortly thereafter.



Elvis has long left the building



Remember, add more bran to your diet.


August 16, 1987 -
Mercury, Venus and Mars
all get bunched up near the Sun in what some call the Harmonic Convergence on this date.

Thousands of nutballs clustered at sacred locations like Mount Shasta, California begin meditating their asses off for some damn reason.


August 16, 1991 -
Shamu the Whale died at 16, from respiratory failure, on this date.

After a brief but very moving service, the Japanese mourners at the graveside were invited to consume the dearly departed; wasabi sauce and pickled ginger was served on the side.



And so it goes.


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