Friday, August 26, 2016

May God protect me from gloomy saints.

Today is the Feast of The Transverberation of St. Teresa of Avila (this time, I not sure even an old lady saying her rosary in church can explain it to you.)



If you find yourself in Rome, run, do not walk, to see the Santa Maria della Vittoria Church. It houses one of the most amazing pieces of art - The Ecstasy of St. Teresa by Bernini. (Look for the light switch to illuminate the statue.  Just think, God had to turn St. Teresa on with his shafts of pure light - you can do it with a flick of a switch.)



The statues depict a moment described by Saint Teresa of Avila in her autobiography, where she had the vivid vision of an angel piercing her heart with a golden shaft, over and over again, causing her both immense joy and pain. The flowing robes and contorted posture abandon classical restraint and repose to depict a more passionate, almost voluptuous trance.

Such is my obsession with religion.


I have no problem with a holiday celebrating pets. National Dog Day reminds potential dog owners to adopt their dogs from shelters, rather than buying from pet stores.

But why isn't it celebrated during the dog days of summer?


The first time toilet paper was ever sold on a roll was on August 26, 1871 (Joseph Gayetty, often created as 'the father of modern TP' sold his product in packets of flat sheets.) August 26 was later officially dubbed National Toilet Paper Day.



The Chinese took a break from inventing everything else and found time to create TP on this date in 580 AD. They were far too serious to be messing around with any old orgies not to note the correct date.


August 26, 1953
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Considered to be one of the great science fiction films of the 1950s, George Pal's The War of the Worlds was released on this date.



The Martian war machines were originally going to be walking tripods as they were depicted in H.G. Wells' novel, but George Pal didn't know how a tripod would walk and instead went with the flying machines.


Today in History:
August 26, 1498
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A statue was commissioned for the tomb in St. Peters of the French cardinal Jean de Billheres (who was a representative in Rome), on this date.



Michelangelo (23 at the time) won the commission to make the Pieta.

August 26, 1743 -
Antoine Laurent Lavoisier was born on this date. Dr. Lavoisier discovered Oxygen (Joseph Priestley may beg to differ) but not on this date; he was usually too busy celebrating his birthday.



The discovery was a great boon to science, as it enabled Breathing, without which many subsequent scientific advances would have been impossible.


August 26, 1883 -



Krakatoa erupted, between Java and Sumatra on this date. The two-day eruption and related tidal waves killed 36,000 people and destroyed two thirds of the island. (Yeah, yeah, I know, Krakatoa is West of Java.)



On a lighter note, "Krakatoa" sounds like "cracked a toe, huh?" and can be used in many humorous puns.


August 26, 1957 -
Henry Ford was a very plain man; he wasn't interested in anything fancy. Ford left the design stylings of the Model A (during the late 20s, early 30s) to his son Edsel. The Model A pretty much saved the company, at the time.

Henry never gave his son the proper credit for his help until the Ford Motor Company rolled the first Edsel, named after Edsel Bryant Ford, off the assembly line on this date. (Well, Ford did give his son one million dollars on his 21st birthday, which in my book is not too shabby a gift.)



110,847 of the cars are built before Ford pulls the plug due to lack of sales.



And so it goes.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The summer's not quite over yet

Get out and celebrate the 100th anniversary of the creation of the US National Park Service, formed on August 25, 1916.



If you're in NYC, you don't have to leave the city; just head uptown and visit Grant's Tomb.


August 25, 1962 -
Little Eva's record The Loco-Motion topped the charts on this date.



Gerry Goffin had actually had this song idea in the back of his mind for a couple of years, but had never found the right moment to bring it out. When he sat down to write it at last, he defended it to his songwriting partner, Carole King: "This is going to sound stupid, but what the hell."


August 25, 1972 -
American International Pictures released another film in the blaxploitation vein, Blacula, on this date.



William Marshall, who played Mamuwalde, went on to portray the King of Cartoons in Pee-Wee's Playhouse.


August 25, 1975 -
Bruce Springsteen's third album Born to Run was released on this date.



Springsteen played the title song, Born to Run, for the first time on May 9, 1974 when he opened for Bonnie Raitt at Harvard Square. Rock critic Jon Landau was at the show and wrote in Boston's Real Paper: "I saw rock and roll's future - and its name is Bruce Springsteen." Landau eventually became Springsteen's manager.


August 25, 1986
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WEA Records released Paul Simon's award-winning Graceland album on this date.



At first, Simon considered the word "Graceland" a placeholder title until he could come up with something better - maybe something that had to do with Africa. After a while, he realized the title wasn't going away, and he got comfortable with it.


August 25, 1988 -
One of the best documentary films ever produced, Miramax released The Thin Blue Line, directed by Errol Morris, on this date.



The film was rejected by the Oscars for Best Documentary category in 1989 because it was considered to be a fictional film due to its scripted content.


Today in History:
It's the birthday of Declan Patrick MacManus, one of the most prolific musicians of the late 20th Century.



In addition to recordings as "Elvis Costello" (often backed by The Attractions), he has recorded music as "Declan MacManus", "Napoleon Dynamite and The Royal Guard", "The Coward Brothers" (with T-Bone Burnett), "Nick Lowe and His Sound", "The Emotional Toothpaste" and "The Imposter".


The Council of Nicaea ended on August 25, 325, resulting in the Nicene Creed. This established the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, which proved that the Father and Son were not two, but three and therefore one. This controversial creed alienated many math teachers from the church.

Its repercussions eventually caused a Schism, which caused Infidels, which caused considerable bloodshed and ultimately resulted in more Political Philosophy.


August 25, 1718 -
French colonists, led by Jean Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur De Bienville, established the Louisiana settlement and fortress of Nouvelle Orleans.



In honor of the Big Easy, Laissez les bons temps rouler.


August 25, 1830 -
The 'Tom Thumb' steam locomotive, designed by Peter Cooper, ran the famous first race between a locomotive and a horse-drawn vehicle, over a nine mile stretch, between Relay and Baltimore, Maryland. The locomotive was off to a promising start, but broke down, and the horse won .



Strangely enough on this date in 1875, Captain Matthew Webb became the first person to swim across the English Channel,

traveling from Dover, England, to Calais, France, in less than 22 hours.


August 25, 1835
-
The New York Sun published stunning revelations that Sir John Hershel, having built a new super powerful telescope, had observed little men living on the surface of the moon.



The stories, now generally believed to be false, brought the paper record circulation.


August 25, 1900 -



No, Nietzsche is dead, on this date.



God finds this very amusing.


August 25, 1901 -
Clara Maass, a 25 year old army nurse, volunteered for an experiment to prove that the mosquito carries yellow fever.

Unfortunately for her, the experiment proved successful and Maass died. Her death roused public sentiment and put an end to yellow fever experiments on humans.


August 25, 1925 -
The Sleeping Car Porters' Union was established by A. Phillip Randolph, a political malcontent who'd been agitating for reform ever since his ejection from the Wide Awake Car Porters' Union.



Mr. Randolph was the principle organizer for the March on Washington in 1963.


August  25, 1944 -
The City of Paris, occupied since June 1940, was liberated from German occupation by Free French Forces under General Jacques LeClerc and his 2nd Tank division on this date (Charles De Gaulle might beg to differ.)



Although ordered by Adolf Hitler to leave Paris a smoldering ruin, Paris' military governor Major General Dietrich von Cholitz lied to his superiors and left the city's landmarks intact.



I bet Hitler wasn't a happy camper today.


August 25, 1967
George Lincoln Rockwell, the leader of the American Nazi Party, was relieved of his duties by means of the usual Nazi method: he was shot to bloody hell on this date.

Former party member John Patler was later convicted of the killing.


August 25, 1970 -
Elton John, a virtual unknown, started the first night of a six night engagement at the Troubador Club in Los Angeles on this date, making his first American public appearance.



After the first night, Robert Hilburn, music critic for the Los Angeles Times, wrote: “Tuesday night at the Troubadour was just the beginning. He’s going to be one of rock’s biggest and most important stars.” And as Hilburn predicted, in 1990 Rolling Stone magazine declared these shows to be among the 20 most important concerts in the history of Rock ‘n’ Roll.



And so it goes.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

I did not know this


The average bank teller loses about $250 every year.


August 24, 1937 -
William Wyler's crime-drama film, Dead End, premiered in NYC on this date.



Humphrey Bogart
got the role of "Baby Face" Martin after George Raft declined it. George Raft had a habit of declining roles that other actors made famous because he was too busy given most of Hollywood syphilis.


August 24, 1966 -
One of the quintessential films of the 60s, Alfie, opened in the US on this date.



For her few scenes with Michael Caine, Shelley Winters couldn't understand his dialogue at all due to his strong Cockney accent and had to wait until her leading man stopped moving his lips before responding with her lines.


August 24, 1966 -
The (still surprising good) sci-fi film, Fantastic Voyage, premiered on this date.



Isaac Asimov was approached to write the novel from the script. He perused the script and declared it to be full of plot holes. Receiving permission to write the book the way he wanted, delays in filming and the speed at which he wrote saw the book published before the film.


August 24, 1968
-
The Rascals song People Got to Be Free topped the charts on this date.



Jerry Wexler at Atlantic Records briefly blocked the single's release as he thought the Rascals' career would be hurt by a political record. He was partly right: although People Got to Be Free was the group's biggest hit (#1 for five weeks), it was also their last Top Ten single.


Today in History:
August 24, 79

Pliny the Elder, who was not as old as his father, Pliny the Dead, witnessed the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum being fired by Mount Vesuvius on this date. Vesuvius, ever the vengeful volcano god buried those happening Roman vacation spots, apparently to punish the debauchery that made the towns famous. Tens of thousands of people perished only to have plaster casts made centuries later of the hollows their bodies once occupied.



Once again, People, this is what happens when a city goes on the cheap and starts sacrificing any old whore rather than a proper virgin. A faithful reader suggests that you skip visiting Pompeii and visit Ercolano (Herculaneum) instead. It is not so crowded and there are some cool little bars near the ruins where you can enjoy views of the bay of Naples and Vesuvius.


August 24, 1572 -
Troops loyal to the French crown alongside Catholic civilians massacre the Protestant Huguenots of Paris, estimates range between 20,000 and 100,000 deaths. At news of this carnage of this St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, a gleeful Pope Gregory XIII ordered celebrations and a medal to be struck.



Sometimes, you just have to be embarrassed to be a Catholic.


August 24, 1680 -
Colonel Thomas Blood, Irish adventurer who stole the Crown Jewels from the Tower of London in 1671, died on this date.



Captured after the theft, he insisted on seeing King Charles II, who had a reputation for liking bold scoundrels. Charles not only pardoned him, but granted Blood Irish lands worth £500 a year!


August 24, 1814 -
The White House and other public buildings in the District of Columbia were torched by the invading British army on this date.



The President's wife, Dolley Madison and Paul Jennings, her husband's enslaved manservant, are torn away from Mrs. Madison's ice cream and candy making duties to save a couple of chairs,

and an unfinished portrait of some dead Virginian Slave holder, Masonite and dope smoker.


August 24, 1853 -
It is believed that the original potato chip recipe was created by chef George Crum, at Moon's Lake House near Saratoga Springs, New York, on this date.



He was fed up with a customer (the popular myth wrongly identifies him as Cornelius Vanderbilt) who continued to send his fried potatoes back, claiming that they were too thick and soggy. Crum decided to slice the potatoes so thin that they couldn't be eaten with a fork, nor fried normally in a pan, so he decided to stir-fry the potato slices. Against Crum's expectation, the guest was ecstatic about the new chips. They became a regular item on the lodge's menu under the name Saratoga Chips. They soon became popular throughout New York and New England.

You don't want to know how Crum got the vinegar flavor for that damn chip.


August 24, 1869 -
Do we like waffles? (Yes, we like waffles!)

Cornelius Swarthout of Troy, New York received the first U.S. patent for a stovetop Waffle Iron (U.S. patent No. 94,043).


August 24, 1932 -
Amelia Earhart flew from Los Angeles to Newark, becoming the first woman to complete a non-stop, transcontinental flight on this date.

She completed the journey in 19 hours and five minutes.


August 24, 1958 -
Red China commenced the shelling of the islands of Quemoy and Matsu, which hold one-third of Chiang Kai Shek's troops, on this date. The United States threatens nuclear retaliation for this, but the American people do not support the stance.



A very strange compromise is worked out, permitting China to shell the islands on odd dates and Chiang Kai Shek's troops to resupply the islands on even dates.


August 24, 1959 -
Three days after Hawaiian statehood,

Hiram L. Fong was sworn in as the first Chinese-American U.S. senator while Daniel K. Inouye was sworn in as the first Japanese-American U.S. representative.


August 24, 1968
France exploded its first hydrogen bomb, thus becoming the world's fifth nuclear power.



The Germans break out in an ever slight sweat. (The 1998 film Godzilla uses this particular test as the basis for the monster Godzilla, an infant green iguana mutated by the fallout from the blast.)



Another reason to hate the French.


August 24, 1989 -
Pete Rose was suspended from baseball for life for gambling on this date.



Unfortunately, Pete may never get in after Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred in December, confirmed that he will uphold the lifetime ban.


August 24, 2006 -
The planet Pluto was reclassified as a "dwarf planet" by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) on this date. Pluto's status was changed due to the IAU's new rules for an object qualifying as a planet.



The other planets have been picking on Pluto ever since. (Damn you, Neil deGrasse Tyson!)



And so it goes.