Monday, May 29, 2017

Just pause a moment between the beers and burgers to reflect.

A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself. - Joseph Campbell



Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday that is observed on the last Monday of May. It was formerly known as Decoration Day. This holiday commemorates U.S. men and women who have died in military service to their country. It began first to honor Union soldiers who died during the American Civil War. After World War I, it expanded to include those who died in any war or military action.



One of the longest standing traditions is the running of the Indianapolis 500, which has been held in conjunction with Memorial Day since 1911 (no one has been able to successfully explain the connection between honoring the nation's war dead and people driving around a race track).


Today and tomorrow, it's Manhattanhenge time again. For all of you Illuminati conspiratorialists, ponder the fact that many of Hip Hops multi-millionaire performers are New Yorkers .



Manhattan's grid was originally proposed in 1811, by Gouverneur Morris, surveyor John Rutherfurd, and New York State Surveyor General Simeon De Witt, four years after the city council appointed them "Commissioners of Streets and Roads," charged with master-planning the city's expansion from its dense base on Manhattan's southern tip.



Because of the work of the The Commissioners' Plan of 1811, the orderly plan of the grid like layout of most of Manhattan occurred, we were able to see the spectacular setting of the sun which aligns with the east-west streets, fully illuminating every single cross-street for the last fifteen minutes of daylight (best bet according to Neil deGrasse Tyson is actually tomorrow at 8:12 P.M. EDT.)


May 29, 1936 -
Fritz Lang's
crime thriller, Fury, starring Sylvia Sidney and Spencer Tracy, opened on this date.



Script was based upon the 1933 kidnapping and murder of Brooke Hart, the son of the owner of Hart's Department Store in San Jose, California. The two kidnapping suspects were pulled from jail by a group of vigilantes, who dragged them across the street to St. James Park and lynched both of them.


May 29, 1942 -

The movie Yankee Doodle Dandy, starring James Cagney, premiered at a war-bonds benefit in New York on this date.



Despite failing health, the real George M. Cohan acted briefly as a consultant on the film. He lived long enough to see the finished result and approved wholeheartedly of James Cagney's depiction of himself.


May 29, 1954 -
During the first 3-D crazy of the 50's, Alfred Hitchcock releases his masterpiece, Dial 'M' for Murder, on this date.



Warner Brothers insisted on shooting the movie in 3-D although the craze was fading and Alfred Hitchcock was sure the movie would be released flat. The director wanted the first shot to be that of a close-up of a finger dialing the letter M on a rotary dial telephone, but the 3-D camera would not be able to focus such a close-up correctly. Hitchcock ordered a giant finger made from wood with a proportionally large dial built in order to achieve the effect.


May 29, 1957
-
Try to follow along - On November 3, 1954, Japan released Gojira (Godzilla), the greatest fever dream and anti nuclear proliferation film. On April 26, 1956,  an American version of the film, Godzilla, King of the Monsters, was released. It had 40 minutes of the original excised (mostly the content dealing with World War II or the anti-nuclear message,) and had 20 minutes of the masterful deadpan stylings of Raymond Burr.



The American version did so well that Kaiju Ō Gojira (Godzilla, King of the Monsters) was released in Japan with Japanese subtitles on this date and did very well.  


The more you know


Today in History:
May 29, 1453
-
Constantinople was taken by Ottoman Turks on this date, after a fifty day siege led by Sultan Mehmet II. The city defense of 10,000 men was no match for a force of 100,000 armed with heavy artillery.



It is the final gasp of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire.

Why is this important, you may well ask - it really isn't (this event is considered the end of the Middle Ages) but then again, neither is most of history.


Patrick Henry was born on May 29, 1736. Mr Henry was an American patriot best known for never having been able to make up his mind. Asked the simplest question, Mr Henry found himself befuddled for days. It therefore came as no surprise to anyone who knew him when, given the choice between liberty and death, he famously pronounced that either would be welcome.



History records his vow at St. John's Church in March of 1775 as "Give me liberty or give me death!" Eyewitnesses and other contemporaries claim he actually said, "Liberty, death, whatever, let's just wrap this puppy up."


May 29, 1913 -
Imagine, if you will, you live in Paris and that after a hard day of not working and drinking heavily (it's what most of the idle rich did in Paris at the time, in between bouts of sodomy, while they waited around for Marcel Proust to finish writing that damn book he was working on - but that's another story), you were dragged to the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris. Tonight, the Ballets Russes was going to perform a new ballet, Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring) with the international star, Nijinsky, the choreographer. You might have been expecting a brief snooze but what you got was a full out boxing match (not unlike an evening at the Boston Pops).



The complex music and violent dance steps depicting fertility rites first drew catcalls and whistles from the crowd, and there were loud arguments in the audience between supporters and opponents of the work. These were soon followed by shouts and fistfights in the aisles. The unrest in the audience eventually degenerated into a riot. The Paris police arrived by intermission, but they restored only limited order. Chaos reigned for the remainder of the performance, and Igor Stravinsky (the composer) himself was so upset on account of its reception that he fled the theater in mid-scene, reportedly crying. Fellow composer Camille Saint-Saëns famously stormed out of the première, (though Stravinsky latter said "I do not know who invented the story that he was present at, but soon walked out of, the premiere.") allegedly infuriated over the misuse of the bassoon in the ballet's opening bars.



I hate when they misuse the bassoon.

Stravinsky ran backstage, where Sergei Diaghliev, was turning the lights on and off in an attempt to try to calm the audience. Nijinsky stood on a chair, leaned out (far enough that Stravinsky had to grab his coat-tail), and shouted numbers to the dancers, who couldn't hear the orchestra (this was challenging because Russian numbers are polysyllabic above ten, such as eighteen: vosemnadsat).



Although Nijinsky and Stravinsky were despondent, Diaghilev (the ballet's impresario) commented that the scandal was "just what I wanted". The music and choreography were considered barbaric and sexual and are also often noted as being the primary factors for the cause of the riot, but many political and social tensions surrounding the premiere contributed to the backlash as well.



It was quite an evening.


In the early morning hours of May 29, 1914, the Canadian Pacific ocean liner Empress of Ireland was cruising the St. Lawrence, headed for Liverpool. Traveling the opposite way was the Norwegian collier Storstad, weighed down by a full load of coal.



The British passenger ship collided with a Norwegian freighter and sank, taking 1012 passengers and crewmen with her, within fourteen minutes. At the time, it was considered one of the worst disasters in maritime history.


John F. Kennedy was born one hundred years ago today in 1917, and is best remembered for telling Berliners "I am a jelly-filled donut" speech, delivered in Berlin (either that or "I am a small brimmed hat, usually worn in early spring" or "I like cheese"), an axiom that many Americans found problematic in the face of increasing cold war tensions, imminent nuclear war, an escalating presence in Vietnam, the troubled state of race relations, and the ubiquitous threat of poisonous snakes.



Mr. Kennedy should not be faulted for his mangling of the phrase, he was a pill-popping, philanderer (banging Hollywood starlets, two and three at a time) in constant pain from Addison's disease and shouldn't have been expected to stay on point in a foreign language with so many other things on his mind.



Born on the same day but several centuries earlier (in 1630), England's King Charles II was best known for the saying, "Give me back my throne."


May 29, 1953
Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa mountaineer Tenzing Norgay were the first people to reach the summit of Mount Everest, on Tenzing Norgay's (adopted) 39th birthday.



Following his ascent of Everest, Sir Hillary devoted much of his life to helping the Sherpa people of Nepal through the Himalayan Trust, which he founded. Through his efforts many schools and hospitals were built in this remote region of Nepal.



And so it goes


Before you go - I saw this heartfelt tribute (on Nag on the Lake) to Chris Cornell by Norah Jones at the Detroit Fox Theatre, five days after his death.



You may dab your eyes now.


1332

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Menstrual Hygiene Awareness Day

The German based NGO WASH United wanted to raise awareness that over 1.25 billion women who do not have access basic sanitary conditions during their period. Given the fact that a little more than half the world's population are women and on any given day, more than 800 million women between the ages of 15 and 49 are menstruating, it is an issue that effects  everyone.








OK, I got through this without running, screaming from the room.


Don't forget, tomorrow starts Manhattanhenge viewing

(more on that later)


May 28, 1929 -
Warner Bros released the film On With the Show! on this date.  It was the first movie shown to be fully in color and fully in sound.


It was the second movie produced by Warner Brothers, and helped start the Technicolor revolution.


May 28, 1953 -
Walt Disney's first animated 3-D cartoon in Technicolor, Melody, premiered on this date



Originally there was going to be an entire series of "Adventures in Music" shorts but in fact, only one other was made: the Academy Award-winning Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom.


May 28, 1989 -
Marvin Young (Young MC, who is now 50 years old) an economics major at University of Southern California released his Grammy Award winning album on this date.



The main sample in this song is a loop from a song that came out in 1970 called "Found A Child" by a Seattle Funk group called Ballin' Jack.


Don't forget to check out our other site: Dr Caligari's Cupboard


Today in History:
May 28, 1503
-
The Treaty of Everlasting Peace between Scotland and England was signed culminating in the marriage of James IV of Scotland and Margaret Tudor (sister of Henry VIII) on this date.



Once again the European sense of time prevails and the treaty would actually last only 10 years.


On May 28, 1743, Joseph Ignace Guillotin was born in France on this day. Later he became a doctor. As a politically active humanitarian, he was understandably disturbed by the grisly executions of the French Revolution. He was sure people could be killed more efficiently, and he proposed a device to do just that (Antoine Louis devised the gismo.)

Dr Louis' machine sliced the victim's head off by means of a heavy, suspended blade rushing down a pair of side rails onto (or more accurately through) the victim's neck. Not only was it quick and painless: in those dull years before cable, it was also great entertainment. Dr Guillotine enjoyed watching the youngsters scampering playfully about the machine, fighting for the severed head.

During the rough weather that followed the French Revolution (known to meteorologists as "The Rain of Terror") it became necessary to purge the Republic of all obstacles to the welfare of its people. Sadly, most of those obstacles were people themselves, and there were a damned lot of them.



Drunk with power (a lingering effect of the Bourbon era) and armed with Dr Guillotine's seal of approval, the government succeeded in eliminating thousands of such obstacles quickly and effectively, in a way that made the children laugh and sing right up to the moment that their own heads were sliced off.

Dr Guillotine probably died of natural causes and was not eventually guillotined (as many believe,) thus robbing us of the possible existence of a moral to his story.

(Readers seeking morals, however, are advised as always to conduct their searches elsewhere.)


May 28, 1930
-
The Chrysler Building, the premier Art Deco skyscraper in New York City, had it's opening ceremony, on this date. Standing 1,047 feet (319 meters) high, it was briefly the world's tallest building before it was overtaken by the Empire State Building in 1931. With the construction of One World Trade Center, it was been again relegated to the third tallest building in New York City.

The skyscraper, designed by architect William Van Alen, was originally built to house the Chrysler Corporation. The groundbreaking occurred on September 19, 1928. At the time, the builders of New York were engaged in an intense competition to build the world's tallest skyscraper. The Chrysler Building was erected at an average rate of four floors per week and no workers were killed during construction. Just prior to its completion, the building stood about even with the rival project 40 Wall Street, designed by H. Craig Severance. Severance quickly increased the height of his project by two feet and claimed the title of the world's tallest building (this distinction excluded structures that were not fully habitable, such as the Eiffel Tower).



Van Alen secretly obtained permission to build a spire that was hidden inside the building during construction. The spire, measuring 125 feet (58.4 meters) long and composed of Nirosta stainless steel, was hoisted to the top of the building on October 23, 1929. The added height allowed the Chrysler Building to surpass both 40 Wall Street and the Eiffel Tower as the tallest building and the tallest structure in the world. It was also the first man-made structure to stand taller than 1,000 feet (305 meters). The steel chosen to cap the building was Krupp KA2 "Enduro" Steel (you may buy me a drink after you win a bar bet with that bit of knowledge).



In less than a year, the Chrysler Building was surpassed in height by the Empire State Building. Van Alen's satisfaction was further muted by Walter Chrysler's refusal to pay his fee.


May 28, 1944 -
The thrice married, former prosecutor, businessman, transvestite and Republican politician from the state of New York Sir Rudolph William Louis Giuliani III, was born on this date.

Please, there is nothing wrong with transvestism. My favorite comic, Eddie Izzard is a Male Executrix. But remember, the former mayor has pledged his allegiance to LifeLock


May 28, 1959 -
America
launched a Jupiter rocket on this date, containing a rhesus monkey named Able and a squirrel monkey named Miss Baker. After experiencing nine minutes of microgravity, the capsule successfully returns to Earth with both monkeys intact.



However, Able died during surgery to remove his electrodes. Able was then stuffed and mounted and is now on display at the Smithsonian Institute of Air and Space Museum.



There is no truth to the rumor that Miss Baker went on to carry on a long term ménage à trois with President Kennedy and Frank Sinatra.


May 28, 1972 -
The virtually exiled King Edward VIII, (styled the Duke of Windsor by his brother King George VI in 1936,) died on this day in 1972 in Paris. He was buried at Windsor Castle. It was the first time that his widow, the Duchess was a royal guest of the Queen.



According to Sarah Bradford, the royal biographer, the Queen Mother, who had for 36 years resented the fact that the Duke's undying love for the horse faced, possible transvestite Mrs. Simpson had put her husband on the throne right at the threshold of war and had condemned him to an early death (She conveniently forgot that her husband was a very heavy smoker from early adulthood and that his family was prone to cancer), was very solicitous about the senile Duchess and took care of her during the funeral. The Queen did not weep for her uncle, but, strangely enough, when the Duchess followed him in death 14 years later, the Queen did weep at her funeral.


May 28, 1987 -
German teenager Matthias Rust lands his Cessna in Moscow's Red Square, buzzing the Kremlin on the way in.



He serves 18 months in prison for this prank, which also costs the commander of the Soviet Air Command his job.

Oops.



And so it goes


And now for something completely different - while lazing on a quiet Saturday afternoon along the dark shoals of the uncharted intraweb, I came upon an Early Terry Gilliam short, The Miracle of Flight, made in 1974, done as a side project from his Monty Python duties





1333

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Word of the day

Poculation n. the action or practice of drinking alcohol

As some of you may know, I do not practice drinking; I am a professional.


The Popsicle was first made (but not patented) in 1905 by Frank Epperson on this date (he was only 11 years old at that time.)

If only we could create a frozen concoction that mixes ice and alcohol - oh wait a minute that's a Frozen Margarita, never mind - keep celebrating the Popsicle.


May 27, 1930 -
Howard Hughes'
multi-million dollar war drama, Hell's Angels, premiered in Los Angeles, on this date



Entire film had been filmed as a silent, minus a soundtrack, by Howard Hughes in 1928. Greta Nissen had the role played later by Jean Harlow. When sound equipment became available Hughes decided to re-shoot the whole film as a talkie.


May 27, 1933 -
Walt Disney classic take on The Three Little Pigs, premiered on this date.



The commercial tie-in with Esposito's pork sausages during the original screenings of the cartoon wasn't such a big hit though.


May 27, 1964 -
From Russia with Love, the second spy film in the James Bond series, was released in the US on this date.



The knife shoe used by Rosa Kleb is an actual weapon used by the KGB.


Don't forget to tune into the new episode of The ACME Eagle Hand Soap Radio Hour


Today in History:
May 27, 1923
-
Henry Kissinger was born in Fuerth, Germany on this date.



50 years later, (America Favorite Freely Roaming War Criminal - according to your political beliefs) Dr. Kissinger received the Nobel Peace Prize for quitting the Vietnam War.



Henry also proved that outliving your enemies is the best revenge.


other birthday celebrants include:
The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously.





Hubert Humphrey, Vice President under President Lyndon B. Johnson, and presidential candidate, was born on this date (1911).


A man who limits his interests, limits his life.





Vincent Price, actor, was born on this date (1911).


Pop music for me was definitely escapist, but never studious.





Siouxsie Sioux, singer, songwriter, musician and producer was born on this date (1957).


We used to say that he who threw the biggest tantrum won the day.





Neil Mullane Finn, singer/songwriter and musician was born on this date (1958).


May 27, 1937 -
The Golden Gate Bridge, arguably one of the Wonders of the Modern World, connecting San Francisco with California's Marin County opened to pedestrian traffic on this date.



More than 200,000 made the first-day trek.

Harold Wobber had the good grace to wait until August 7, 1937, to take the first leap into eternity.  Wobber supposedly turned to a stranger on the walkway and said,"This is as far as I go" then took his last step.


May 27, 1939 -
Detective Comics Number 27 featuring Batman, DC Comics debuted its second superhero on this date. The superhero is Batman, who will go on to be one of the greatest commercial successes in the comic industry.

This issue also marks Commissioner Gordon’s first appearance. According to creator Bob Kane, his inspirations for Batman were Superman, Leonardo da Vinci’s design of a bat-like glider, and two films: The Mark of the Zorro and The Bat Whispers.


May 27, 1941 -
The British sank Germany's elusive, pocket-battleship Bismarck, then the largest warship commissioned, on this date.



The destruction of the battleship was reported on the front pages of newspapers around the world. Only 110 of her crew of 2,222 survived the sinking.


May 27, 1942 -
A couple of Czech assassins ambush the car carrying Reinhard Heydrich and toss a grenade into the front seat on this date.



The man who headed the Wannsee Conference was mortally wounded in the attack and died of septicemia a week later. The Nazis retaliate by obliterating the Catholic village of Lidice, Czechoslovakia and its inhabitants.


May 27, 1977 -
After the pressing plant initially refuses to duplicate the record and the printer refuses to make the covers, Virgin finally releases God Save the Queen by the Sex Pistols in time for the monarch's Jubilee celebration on this date.



Popular belief is that this song was "banned" by the BBC and most other broadcasting outlets. In truth, the BBC didn't ban records, but made programing decisions based on its standards and enforced certain rules, like barring product mentions. The BBC's Radio 1 did exclude the song from their playlist, and some major retailers (including and Woolworth's and WH Smith) refused to stock it, but by labeling it taboo the song became even more marketable, and it sold an amazing 150,000 copied the first week it was released.


May 27, 1993 -
Five
people were killed and 37 wounded when a Fiat Fiorino exploded outside the Uffizi Gallery Museum in Florence, Italy on this date.

The car bomb (a combination of PETN, T4 and TNT, kids don't try to make this at home) also manages to obliterate three priceless artworks and substantially damage thirty more. The bombing appears to have been the work of the Sicilian Mafia.

Once again, if you are going to borrow money from unscrupulous sources, remember to pay your vig.


May 27, 1995 -
During the third jump of an equestrian event in Charlottesville, Virginia, Christopher Reeve was thrown headfirst over his horse on this date.

Reeve broke his neck in two places, instantly rendering him a quadriplegic, unable to move or breathe without assistance.



And so it goes.


1334