Saturday, November 18, 2017

Neither fat nor skinny

November 18, 1928 -
Happy Birthday Mickey Mouse (even though this is his third appearance in a cartoon.) I've stopped arguing with the Disney corporation since Darth Vader's been working there.

Steamboat Willie, the first fully synchronized sound cartoon, directed by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks, was released on this date.

November 18, 1931 -
The groundbreaking film, Mädchen in Uniform, premiered in Berlin, on this date.

The movie was banned when first released in Germany and the United States. The Nazi regime tried to burn all the copies of this movie. It wasn't until First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt saw the importance of the movie that the ban was lifted in the US.

November 18, 1959 -
The Biblical spectaculars to end all spectaculars, Ben-Hur, starring Charlton Heston, had its world premiere in New York, on this date.

The desert sequences were all set to be filmed in Libya until authorities in the country--a Muslim nation--realized that the film was promoting Christianity. The government ordered MGM out of the country, forcing the studio to shift filming to Spain, which has the only desert in Europe.

November 18, 1987 -
Bernardo Bertolucci's
magnificent take on Pu Yi, The Last Emperor, premiered in NYC on this date.

1,100 schoolchildren were brought in to play Red Guards who composed the Cultural Revolution march of 1967. Bernardo Bertolucci had problems instilling the right amount of anger in them, as none of them knew of the attitudes of the Cultural Revolution.

November 18, 1992
The biopic of the influential Black Nationalist leader, Malcolm X, premiered on this date.

Initially, Spike Lee requested 33 million dollars for the film, a reasonable sum considering its size and scope, but much more than his previous budgets. Because Lee's five previous films combined had grossed less than 100 million dollars domestically, Warner Bros. offered 20 million dollars for a two-hour and fifteen-minute film, plus eight million dollars from Largo Entertainment for the foreign rights. When the film went five million dollars over budget, Lee kicked in most of his salary, but failed to keep the financiers from shutting down post-production. Lee went public with his battles, and raised funds from celebrity friends, including Oprah Winfrey, and Michael Jordan to regain control of the project. Warner Bros. eventually kicked in more funds, after a positive screening of a rough cut.

Don't forget to tune into The ACME Eagle Hand Soap Radio Hour

Today in History:
November 18, 1307
Local Child Services authorities in Uri, Switzerland reported that a William Tell shot an apple off his son's head on this date

- Charges may still be pending.

November 18, 1421 -
A seawall at the North Sea (and once again to be clear, not the Zuiderzee, as I have joked in the past) dike breaks, in the Netherlands, flooding 72 villages and killing somewhere between 4,000 and 10,000 people on this date.

Please try to refrain yourselves from make jokes about the killer dikes.

November 18, 1477 -
William Caxton
published the first book printed in England, on this date. The book was a translation of The Dictes and Sayings of the Philosophers, by Frenchman Guillaume de Tignoville. The translation to English was performed by Anthony Wodville, Earl Rivers, who had devoted a considerable portion of his life to the study of philosophers' dictes.

Wodville first formulated the theory that the length of a philosopher's dicte was less important than its thrust. He has also been credited with originating the theory that a philosopher's dicte was commensurate with his shoe size. Neither theory is given much credence by contemporary philosophers, most of whom appear to be dicteless anyway.

November 18, 1686 -
Louis XIV's,
King of France, anal fistula was operated on this date, by surgeon Charles Francois Felix, with great success, in front of the horrified yet fascinated court. To prepare for the operation Felix practiced his surgery on anuses of the peasantry, with some fatalities at first but improving his technique in time for the royal bung.

This is what passed for entertainment at the french royal court.

November 18, 1922 -
Marcel Proust, a pioneer of the modern novel (A la Recherche du Temps Perdu), died at 51 on this date.

While it is generally agreed upon that he died of pneumonia and a pulmonary abscess, I believe he was crushed by the sheer weight of the unedited proof of his massive novel.

(Please feel please as punch with yourself that you've read about Proust twice in one week.)

November 18, 1966 -
After this final "meatless" day of sacrifice, the American Roman Catholic Church would withdraw its edict forbidding meat consumption on Fridays.

No one knows how much the American Jellied Ox Tongue Consortium 'donated' to the church on that day.

November 18, 1970 -
Singer/polygamist Jerry Lee Lewis divorced his third wife Myra Gail, after 12 years of marriage. Not only was she jailbait when they got married (being 13 at the time), but Lewis was married to Jane Mitcham at the time.

It's so hard to keep details like the number of wives you have straight in your mind.

November 18, 1978 -
Congressman Leo Ryan was slain at the People's Temple compound in Guyana, after which over 900 members of the cult led by the Reverend Jim Jones drank cyanide laced Flavor Aid (a Kool Aid knockoff), including over 270 children. It was probably not a pretty sight.

The Kraft Foods Company would like you guys to stop making those damn 'drink the Kool Aid' jokes

- it wasn't them.

November 18, 1985 -
Cartoon strips approached their zenith on this date.

The comic strip Calvin and Hobbes, created by Bill Watterson, was first published on this date. We learn of Hobbes' love for tuna fish

And so it goes

Begin laying down your wine choices - if you're having a house full of people, you'll need it.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Another unnecessary fact of the day

Black Friday is the busiest day of the year for plumbers.

Thanks to all that food we gobble up, Roto-Rooter reports that kitchen drains, garbage disposals and, yes, toilets, require more attention the day after Thanksgiving than any other day of the year.

November 17, 1933 -
...Calling all nations. Calling all nations. This is Rufus T. This is Rufus T. Firefly coming to you through the courtesy of the enemy. We're in a mess folks, we're in a mess. Rush to Freedonia! Three men and one woman are trapped in a building! Send help at once! If you can't send help, send two more women!  ....

Unbelievable, but, a box office flop (at the time), The Marx Brothers Duck Soup opened on this date. (This film marks the last appearance of Zeppo Marx in a Marx Brothers film.)

Shortly before this film premiered, the city of Fredonia, New York, complained about the use of its name with an additional "e". The Marx Brothers' response was, "Change the name of your town, it's hurting our picture."

November 17, 1942 -
Martin Scorsese
, Academy Award-winning American film director, writer, producer, actor, film historian, former drug addict and asthmatic was born on this date.

Go watch a movie (any movie) in his honor. He won't mind.

November 17, 1951 -
... Slight pause while I adjust my accoutrements.

Another in the series of Daffy and Porky buddy flicks, Drip-Along Daffy, opened on this date.

November 17, 1978 -
The two-hour Star Wars Holiday Special aired for the first and only time on CBS on this date. (I must strongly warn readers not to attempt to watch the entire special in one seating - stronger men have been driven to drink and drugs for less.)

The Holiday Special is the first time that James Earl Jones was credited with performing the voice of Darth Vader. The next time would be five years later, in 1983, during the end credits of Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi.

November 17, 1989 -
Jim Jarmusch's fourth
feature, Mystery Train, opened on this date.

The hotel where the three stories converge is no longer standing, so many fans of the movie have made pilgrimages to the site only to find that it no longer exists. The film also contains some of the last known footage of Stax Records.

November 17, 2006 -
Daniel Craig
stepped into the role of James Bond for the first time with the third adaptation of Ian Fleming's Casino Royale premiered in the U.S. on this date. This was the 21st Bond film (in the official canon.)

Daniel Craig actually rejected the part of James Bond a year before, as he had felt that the series had settled into a standard formula. He changed his mind when he read the finished script.

Speaking of James Bond: sometimes you shake it too much

Today in History:
Things you probably didn't need to know
November 17, 375 -
Valentinian I
, the Emperor of the West, enraged by the rudeness of barbarian envoys,

died of apoplexy in present day Hungary on this date.

November 17, 1558 -
Elizabeth I
of England ascended to the throne, on this date.

She is best known for her imperfect application of the cosmetic sciences, a flaw that is strikingly evident in all her portraits but that courtiers were apparently reluctant to address the issue.

November 17, 1796 -
Empress Catherine the Great died of a stroke while sitting on the commode and not while astride her steed (or something like that) on this date.

So dammit, stop making those jokes.

November 17, 1869 -
The Suez Canal
was opened in Egypt, linking the Mediterranean and the Red Seas on this date. The 100 mile canal eliminated a 4000-mile trip around Africa.

Empress Eugenie, the wife of Napoleon III, together with Ferdinand de Lesseps, chief architect of the canal, led the first file of ships from on board the French imperial yacht Aigle.

November 17, 1871 -
George Wood Wingate
and William Conant Church established the National Rifle Association in New York on this date.

Today, the group has more than five million members (as of January 2015,) - but the truth of those numbers is a matter of debate.

November 17, 1903 -
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin's
stubbornness split his Russian Social Democratic Labor Party into two factions: the slim majority who sided with him, and the vast minority who opposed him, on this date.

The Russian terms for majority and minority are Bolshevik and Menshevik, respectively, and so these factions took their names. Later the Mensheviks became the majority party, meaning that the Mensheviks had become Bolsheviks and the Bolsheviks Mensheviks.

This was confusing. If you asked someone what they were and they said "Bolshevik," you'd have no way of knowing whether they meant Bolshevik (Menshevik) or Menshevik (Bolshevik.) This state of affairs quickly became intolerable. All sorts of remedies were suggested placards, ID bracelets, hats, tattoos but it was impossible to arrive at a consensus until Lenin clarified matters by having all the Mensheviks shot.

It was easy after that.

November 17, 1917 -
The world famous 77 year old French Sculptor Auguste Rodin froze to death in an unheated attic in Meudon, France on this date. He had applied to the government for quarters as warm as those wherein his statues were stored, but the government turned him down.

His case was so desperate that he asked to be permitted to have a room in the museum the Hotel Biron, formerly his own studio. The official in charge of the museum refused. Other officials and friends promised coal but never sent it, though his situation at Meudon (ill, and freezing to death,) was apparently well known to all of them.

November 17, 1941
U.S. Ambassador to Japan, Joseph C. Grew cabled the US State Department that he has heard that Japan has 'planned, in the event of trouble with the United States, to attempt a surprise mass attack at Pearl Harbor.' His warning was ignored by the Office of Naval Intelligence.

His diplomatic relations with Japan were cordial until the late 1930s, when Japanese expansionism became openly aggressive toward Asian neighbors like China. The US increased economic pressures on Japan until, in late 1939, Grew had been predicting that the situation will soon come to a head. He told President Roosevelt in October 1939 that 'if we start sanctions against Japan we must see them through to the end, and the end may conceivably be 'war.'


November 17, 1968 -
preempted the final 1:05 from a very close Jets-Raiders NFL football game with the TV movie Heidi. Two touchdowns were scored during this missing time.

Sports fans everywhere applaud and understand the network's decision.

November 17, 1970 -
Douglas Engelbart
receives a patent (US No. 3,541,541) for the first computer mouse on this date.

The patent, titled “X-Y Position Indicator for a Display System,” is a simple hollowed-out wooden block, with a single push button on top.

November 17, 1970 -
Things that didn't teach you in school: The Soviet moon rover, Lunokhod 1 lands on the Moon on this date. (Yes kids, the video is a simulation.)

Lunokhod was the first roving remote-controlled robot to land on another celestial body.

November 17, 1973 -
People have got to know whether or not their president is a crook.

President Nixon spoke to more than 400 editors from the Associated Press at a gathering in Orlando, Florida, at Walt Disney World on this date.

I guess that means Disney World isn't the happiest place on Earth for everybody.

And so it goes

Big question for the day - Fresh or Frozen?


Thursday, November 16, 2017

Clear your schedule

Since it's the third Thursday in November, it's that time of the year

Le Beaujolais nouveau est arrivé !

Many sites have noted that today is "Have a Party with Your Bear Day" but can't quite figure out the source:

(No it's not this reason.)

In 1902 while on a hunting trip with Mississippi Gov. Andrew H. Longino, President Teddy Roosevelt was offered the opportunity to shoot a bear tied to a tree.  Seeing this as extremely unsportsmanlike, Roosevelt refused to shoot the bear. News spread quickly (or as quickly as it could in 1902), that the great huntsman Roosevelt has refused to shoot the animal.

A political cartoonist, Clifford Berryman read about the incident and decided to comment on the president's refusal to shoot the bear. Berryman's cartoon appeared in the Washington Post on November 16, 1902.

November 16, 1969 -
BJ Thomas released his hit, Hooked on a Feeling on this date.

Please don't click on this version unless you want the Ooga Chuka ear worm for rest of the week.

November 16, 1973 -
David Bowie appeared in his first TV special, 1980 Floor Show, broadcast on NBC's Midnight Special, on this date.

The show was a spectacular stage production that was filmed over three days, mostly at The Marquee Club, in Soho, London.  It would be Bowie’s last performance as the Ziggy Stardust persona with The Spiders From Mars.

November 16, 1974
John Lennon's song Whatever Gets You Thru the Night hits #1 on the Billboard charts on this date.

Elton John sang backing vocals and also played piano on this. He famously wagered John Lennon that this song would become a #1 hit. When it did, Lennon made good on the wager by making a guest appearance at an Elton John concert on Thanksgiving night 1974 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. It turned out to be Lennon's last live rock performance.

November 16, 1977 -
Steven Spielberg's sci-fi classic, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, opened on this date.

Director Steven Spielberg stated that nothing in his life had been more difficult than editing the final 35 minutes of this film.

November 16, 1994 -
The Peter Jackson film, Heavenly Creatures, starring Kate Winslet and Melanie Lynskey, in their film debuts, opened in the U.S. on this date.

Melanie Lynskey and Kate Winslet were so strongly into their roles that they would interact with each other as their characters off screen.

November 16, 2001 -
Christ Columbus' masterful adaptation of the first instillation of J.K. Rowling's meg-hit novel, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, starring, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, and just about every living British actor at the time, went into general release in the U.K. and U.S. on this date.

Warner Brothers originally considered making the entire Harry Potter film franchise as a set of computer animated films, or attempting to combine several of the novels into a single movie. The studio's reasoning mainly had to do with concern over the rapid aging of child actors and actresses, if production ran too long on any of the films, or if production was delayed between sequels, the leading actors and actresses might have to be re-cast. Author J.K. Rowling vetoed both of the ideas of combining books, and an animated film, so the studio decided instead to produce all eight films back to back, so the same actors and actresses could play their roles in every film.

Why don't you make your intentions clear

Today in History:
November 16, 42 BC -

Tiberius Julius Caesar Augustus was born on this date. He was the Emperor of Rome from 14 to 37 AD.

John the Baptist and Jesus were put to death during his reign, as well as many others whose deaths didn't result in the creation of a religion.

November 16, 1906 -
Opera star Enrico Caruso was charged with an indecent act committed in the monkey house of New York's Central Park Zoo on this date. He pinched the bottom of a woman described as "pretty and plump", causing outrage amongst New York high society. Caruso claimed a monkey pinched the lady's bottom.

You know what I think - Caruso pinched the monkey's bottom and the fat lady was jealous. And you don't even want to know what the monkey was doing to himself at the time.

November 16, 1913 -
Whatever you do, don't disparage M. Proust.

Unable to find a publisher willing to publish the first part of his ambitious three-volume novel, Marcel Proust paid the cost of publication himself of Du Côté de Chez Swann (Swann's Way,) the first volume of what turns out to become the seven-part novel À la Recherche du Temps Perdu (In Search of Lost Time or Remembrance of Things Past,) on this date.

November 16, 1952 -
Lucy holds a football for Charlie Brown in the Peanuts cartoon strip for the first time on this date.

What was often left out of the cartoon strip by newspaper editors was the last panel where Charlie Brown has the living daylights beaten out of Lucy by angry fans for pulling that stunt.

November 16, 1960 -
Working on the film, The Misfits was a trying experience for all involved. Marilyn Monroe's marriage was unraveling before the cast and crews eyes. Clark Gable, became bored while waiting for Monroe to turn up on the set. Gable, 59 (but a long-time smoker and drinker was in poor health) opted to do his own stunts, which included being dragged by a truck traveling at 30 mph. On the last day of filming, Gable said, "Christ, I'm glad this picture's finished. She (Monroe) damn near gave me a heart attack."

On the next day, Gable suffered a severe coronary thrombosis. He died at the hospital from a heart attack several days later, on this date. Marylin Monroe died of an alleged drug overdose (murder) a year later. Montgomery Clift, lingered around another six years, committing "the longest suicide in Hollywood," - heaving drinking and drug taking.

November 16, 1971 -
Her fog, her amphetamine, and her pearls...

Edie Sedgwick, actress and one of Andy Warhol's 'Superstars', died in California from a barbiturate overdose on this date.

Allegedly when learning of Sedgwick's death, Andy Warhol responded with "Edie who?" She was 28 years old.

November 16, 1981 -
Actor William Holden died after a fall, hitting his head on a table probably on November 12, 1981. He was too drunk to telephone for assistance; instead he died alone, bleeding to death trying to treat his wound with Kleenex. After failing to answer telephone calls from concerned friends, his body was found on this date. If it wasn't so sad, it would sound like the end of a classic film-noir.

Years later, Suzanne Vega refers to his ignominious death in her song, Tom's Diner.

And so it goes

Fun fact of the day:

Instead of coal, naughty children in Belarus get reindeer poop in their stocking.