Thursday, March 23, 2017

It missed by this much

March 23, 1989 -
A 1000-foot diameter asteroid misses the Earth by only 500,000 miles on this date.

(Astronomers did not see it until it passed.) To commemorate the event, today has become known as Near Miss Day.

Oops


Huzzah, it's also Melba Toast Day.



The toast so named for the the Australian Opera singer Nellie Melba by her great admirer (and world famous French chef Auguste Escoffier.)



but folks, get a grip, it's just toast.


March 23, 1910 -
Akira Kurosawa
, Japanese film director (Rashomon, The Seven Samurai, Ran), was born in Tokyo, Japan on this date.



One his closest friends was IshirĂ´ Honda, the writer-director behind Godzilla.


March 23, 1990 –
Garry Marshall
surprise comedy hit (which at one time was called $3,000,) Pretty Woman starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere premiered in US theatres on this date.



Edward (Richard Gere) snapping the necklace case down on Vivian's (Julia Roberts) fingers, was improvised by Gere, and Roberts's reaction (laughter) was totally natural. The filmmakers liked it so much, they decided to leave it in.


A little R & R


Today in History:
March 23, 1369
-
Pedro the Cruel, King and tyrant of Castile and Leon, was murdered on this date. Enrique, the illegitimate son of Alfonso XI of Castile, killed his half brother Pedro I in the Castilian civil war and became King Enrique I the Bastard of Castile.

Once again, I must ask, what the hell were people thinking when they named their children.


March 23, 1534 -
Pope Clement VII declared that the marriage between Henry VIII of England and Catherine of Aragon was still valid, even though they'd been divorced the previous year and Henry had already married Anne Boleyn.

Henry decides to trump Clement with his extra I and invents his own religion and appoints a more agreeable pope.


March 23, 1840 -
Englishman John William Draper becomes the first person to successfully photograph the Moon.

The image, a full moon, is a daguerreotype, precursor of the later photograph.


March 23, 1908 -
Love is a fire. But whether it is going to warm your hearth or burn down your house, you can never tell.



 Joan Crawford, actress (both legitimate films and porn), executive and child beater was born on this date.


March 23, 1912 -
Wernher von Braun, German - born rocket pioneer who led the development of the V-2 rocket during World War II was born on this date.





He was deemed one of the The Good Germans we collected as a bonus prize at the end of the war. Von Braun was said to be the preeminent rocket engineer of the 20th century.


March 23, 1919 -
Benito Mussolini founded his own party in Italy on this date. He had tried all the other parties, but he was an awkward young man and had a hard time getting to know people. His Fasci di Combattimento ("Evil Fascist Bastards Party") was extremely popular, however, and even the cool kids came.



It got so crowded that the neighbors started complaining, which ended up starting a big fight, and the rest is history.


March 23, 1925 -
Tennessee Governor Austin Peay signs the Butler Act into law, making illegal the teaching in public school "any theory that denies the story of divine creation of man as taught in the Bible", on this date.



Teacher John Scopes couldn't think of anywhere else to teach evolution, so he ignored the ban and was later prosecuted in what became known as the Scopes Monkey Trial, which resulted in an Oscar for Spencer Tracy.


March 23, 1956 -
The Islamic Republic of Pakistan became an independent republic within the British Commonwealth (from 1947 until 1956, it was referred to as the Dominion of Pakistan,) on this date.  Following the fighting in Pakistan and India in 1947 Muslims moved to Pakistan, creating a country where 96% of the population are Muslim.



Pakistan was the first modern nation to call itself an Islamic republic in conjunction with a largely secular constitution. Currently Pakistan has the world's sixth largest population.


March 23, 1961 -
Valentin Bondarenko was a young cosmonaut who had been doing routine medical tests in a pressure chamber as part of an isolation exercise, on this date. He removed some biosensors from his body and used a cotton ball moistened with alcohol to wash the sticky stuff off his skin.

He tossed the cotton ball aside and it landed on an electric hot plate, where it caught fire. Because the chamber's atmosphere was pure oxygen, the fire spread quickly. Bondarenko was removed from the chamber alive, but he died soon after of shock.Bondarenko's death was kept secret for 25 years. The fatal Apollo 1 disaster could have been averted if NASA had been aware of the accident


March 23, 1965 -
NASA launched Gemini III, nicknamed the “Molly Brown,” from Cape Canaveral on this date. It was the United State’s first maneuverable two-man mission. The mission was crewed by astronauts Virgil IvanGusGrissom and John W. Young.



The flight was the first for Young, who breaks quarantine regulations by smuggling a sandwich into orbit to share with Grissom. Before the end of the mission, Young would become the first man to eat a corned beef sandwich in space. Crumbs from the "weightless" sandwich scattered throughout the Gemini 3 spacecraft, posing a potential, if unintentional, flight safety risk. This rules violation caused NASA to clamp down on what astronauts could and could not carry into space.


March 23, 1997 -
Five dead bodies are found arranged in a cross formation at the burned Quebec home of Didier Queze. They were members of the Solar Temple cult who in 1994 to 1996 had totaled 69 suicides in Europe and North America.

Interestingly, in San Diego, The Heaven's Gate suicides (completely different set of nuts) leave 39 dead, all wearing NIKE shoes and many of the male members of the pact had previously voluntarily removed their members.



I believe this is the corollary to Thoreau's 'beware of all enterprises that require new clothes' - NEVER join a cult that requires you to remove your genitals.



And so it goes.


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Before I forgot - here are the answers to yesterday's quiz


O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!
We will all be heading back to the Satellite of Love on April 14th when Netflix releases the reboot of  Mystery Science Theater 3000. The series, featuring Jonah Ray as Jonah Heston and Felicia Day as Kinga Forrester and Patton Oswalt as TV’s Son of TV’s Frank -



We've got Movie Sign - Again!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

In case you are playing the home version

Today is the earliest day on which Easter Sunday may occur,



not that it occurs on this date, Easter is April 16th this year.


The lack of potable water is the second leading cause of death in many Third World countries (and it could be a lot sooner than you think in California.) World Water Day was first formally proposed in Agenda 21 of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.



So remember, after your morning coffee (or tea,) please remember to recycle your 'precious bodily fluids'.


Two leading lights of twentieth century musical theatre were born on March 22: Stephen Sondheim (1930), best known for his work on Gypsy, West Side Story, Company and Sweeney Todd and Andrew Lloyd Webber (1948), best known for Jesus Christ Superstar, Cats and Phantom of the Opera.













By some mysterious natural process of compensation, March 22 is also the birthday of Marcel Marceau (1923), best known for Actor Trapped in a Role.




March 22, 1931 -
...The longer I go about living, I see it's the relationship that is most meaningful....



William Shatner, arguably the world's (or at least Canada's) greatest actor was born today on this date.


March 22, 1963 -
The Beatles' first album, Please Please Me, was released in the UK on this date.  The album went to the top of the UK charts in two months and remained there for 30 weeks.



Please Please Me has been ranked in the top 50 of the "500 Greatest Albums of All Time" by Rolling Stone. In the US, most of the songs on Please Please Me were first issued on Vee-Jay Records' Introducing... The Beatles in 1964 and subsequently on Capitol Records' The Early Beatles in 1965.


March 22, 1978
The seminal mockumentary about The Pre-Fab Four, The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash, directed by Eric Idle and Gary Weis and starring some people from Monty Python and some other people from SNL, premiered on NBC-TV on this date.



Eric Idle was inspired to make the film when George Harrison showed him a rough cut of a documentary on The Beatles titled The Long and Winding Road. That documentary eventually became The Beatles Anthology.


Record review


Today in History:
March 22, 1622
-
A band led by the Brothers of Powhatan slaughtered 347 settlers near Jamestown, a quarter of the population, in the first Native American massacre of European settlers on this date.

Just think if those indigenous people had just followed the thought all the way through ....


March 22, 1687 -
Classical music and vanity do not mix, if fact, they can really kill you.

In early January of 1687, Jean-Baptiste de Lully, court music and gossip to King Louis XIV of France and notorious buggerer (but that's another story ...) was conducting a musical piece, beating time on the floor with a long staff. This was the common practice at the time before hand-held batons became the norm. He slammed his big toe.



The wound abscessed and eventually turned gangrenous. He refused to have his toe amputated (as he first started as a court dancer) because he could not bear the thought of disfigurement. The wound turned gangrenous and the infection spread, killing him three months later, on this date.


March 22, 1895 -
Auguste and Louis Lumiere first demonstrated motion pictures in Paris using celluloid film. Unless it was March 19, 1895, or December 28, 1894, or cellulite instead of celluloid. And it may have been in Milan, or Warsaw, and it's possible it wasn't Louis and Auguste Lumiere, but Max and Emil Skladanowsky.



It depends who you ask. It wasn't much of a movie anyway—just footage of workers leaving the Lumiere Factory at the end of their shift—so the ambiguity surrounding its debut shouldn't be so surprising.



In honor of the Lumiere Bros 100 year anniversary, in 1995, 40 film directors created short films using the same type of camera the Lumiere brothers used. If you have the time, please seek out the film Lumiere and Company.


March 22, 1958 -
Michael Todd, movie producer, (and one of the myriad of husband's of Elizabeth Taylor) and three other people were killed in the crash of Todd's private plane Lucky Liz, near Grants, New Mexico, on this date. In his autobiography, Eddie Fisher, who considered himself to be Todd's best friend (and another one of the myriad of husbands of Elizabeth Taylor,) stated that no fragments of Todd had been found, and that his coffin contained only his ring.



The Los Angeles Times reported in 1977 that Fisher's story was false - remains of Todd were indeed found and buried. His remains were desecrated by robbers, who broke into his coffin looking for the ring. The bag containing Todd's remains was found under a tree near his plot.

How big was that bag?


March 22, 1960
The first laser was patented (US Patent #2,929,922) by Arthur Schawlow and Charles Hard Townes under the title Masers and Maser Communications System.

There is no mention of whether or not drugs were involved in the creation of the laser or what album they were listening to at the time.


March 22, 1972 -
National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse recommended ending criminal penalties for possession of marijuana on this date.



Follow along (this may be on a different test) - so far, California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont have made private, non-medical possession of marijuana treated as a civil, non-criminal offense. Five additional states - Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina and Ohio - treat marijuana possession offenses as a fine-only misdemeanor offense. Four states - Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington - impose no criminal or civil penalty for the private possession of small amounts of marijuana.


March 22, 1978 -
One of the Flying Wallendas, 73 year old Karl Wallenda, plunges to his death on a cable strung between two hotels in San Juan, PR on this date.



Oops!



And so it goes.


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Before you go - Don't forget to check out today's quiz on the Russian Monarchy


And another thing - I was reminded of a video (that I may have already posted it years ago) while alighting on the shoals of the wonderful website Casa de Ricardo, a great mashup of Cookie Monster and Tom Waits -





Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Music falls on silence like a sense

Today is World Poetry Day - a time to appreciate and support poets and poetry around the world. It is held on March 21 each year and is an initiative of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The Emperor of Ice Cream by Wallace Stevens

Call the roller of big cigars,
The muscular one, and bid him whip
In kitchen cups concupiscent curds.
Let the wenches dawdle in such dress
As they are used to wear, and let the boys
Bring flowers in last month’s newspapers.
Let be be finale of seem.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

Take from the dresser of deal,
Lacking the three glass knobs, that sheet
On which she embroidered fantails once
And spread it so as to cover her face.
If her horny feet protrude, they come
To show how cold she is, and dumb.
Let the lamp affix its beam.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.


What poem are you going to read today?


March 21, 1952 -
The first rock and roll concert was held in America on this date, when DJ Alan Freed (the man who coined the phrase "Rock and Roll") hosted The Moondog Coronation Ball in Cleveland, Ohio.  The first rock and roll concert was shut down after the first act, when it appeared that a riot might break out.



The reason the concert ended in disaster: a minor printing error. The mistake was caused by someone forgetting to add the date to tickets issued for a follow-up ball, which Leo Mintz, an early rock-n-roll promoter had set about organizing immediately after the initial one sold out. As a result, an estimated 20,000 people showed up on the same night for the first concert - at a venue which could hold half that number.


March 21, 1964 -
The Beatles' single She Loves You, went #1 and stayed #1 for 2 weeks on this date.



The Beatles released a German version translated as "Sie Liebt Dich" in the US in 1964. They learned some German when they became the house band in Hamburg in 1962, but needed a German speaker to help them with the lyrics. They recorded the German version in Paris - it was the only time they recorded outside of England.


March 21, 1980
On the season finale of Dallas, the infamous character J.R. Ewing was shot by an unknown individual - Who Shot JR?



Viewers had to wait all summer, and most of the autumn because of a Hollywood actors' strike (and Hagman's own holdout), to learn whether J.R. would survive, and which of his many enemies was responsible.


March 21, 1995 -
We all get to spend Dave Nelson's first day at WNYX when NewsRadio, starring  Dave Foley, Phil Hartman, Maura Tierney and Andy Dick premiered on NBC-TV, on this date.



The cast of NewsRadio was banned from the SAG Awards after one appearance because of their bad behavior. They took their shoes off, stole wine off of the other tables and Andy Dick allegedly asked for Helen Hunt's autograph on his penis.


Soup's On


Today in History:
March 21, 1556
-
Former Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer (who led the effort to help Henry VIII marry Anne Boleyn,) scheduled to denounce his errors and be burned at the stake (after Queen Mary, Henry's daughter, attained the throne), denounced his own confessions and was hustled off to be burned.



He then put forth his hand and declared: “For as much as my hand offended, writing contrary to my heart, my hand shall first be punished.”

Oh that wacky English Reformation .


March 21, 1843 -
According to confused Biblical scholar William Miller, Christ would return sometime in the year following this day in 1843. After Jesus failed to appear by the next March, Miller claimed it was the result of an arithmetic error and recalculated the deadline to be October 22, 1844.

The Lord had other plans on that date as well.


March 21, 1943 -
Cornelia Fort was flying with a student pilot on the morning of December 7, 1941, when they nearly collided with a Japanese aircraft leaving the scene at Pearl Harbor. Thus she became one of the few airborne eyewitnesses to the attack.



She was the second woman to volunteer for the Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (the WAFS, which later merged into the WASPs, or Women Airforce Service Pilots), whose members logged millions of miles ferrying aircraft to points of embarkation and towing targets for training exercises. On a routine ferrying flight in 1943, Fort died at the controls of an aircraft when another plane struck hers. She was the first woman pilot to die in the line of duty for the U.S. military


March 21, 1947 -
In honor of the First Full Day of Spring, let us seriously consider spring cleaning and the unhappy ending of the Collyer brothers.



Homer and Langley Collyer were well-to-do New Yorkers who grew up in a fashionable brownstone in Harlem with their mother and father, just before the turn of the previous century. Unfortunately the brothers, both college graduates, over the years became eccentric hermits and literally walled themselves into their filthy brownstone, cramming it with junk Langley had found on the street (Homer had gone blind and crippled with severe rheumatism.)



On March 21, 1947, police received a tip that there was a dead body in their house. After several hours of trying to crawl their way through the ceiling high booby trapped corridors of newspapers and junk, the police found Homer, who had died apparently only a few hours previously. The problem was - where was Langley?



18 days later and almost 100 tons of trash removed later, the decomposing and rat gnawed corpse of Langley was discovered, crushed in one of his own booby trap warrens. Medical examiners concluded that Langley had died a week earlier than his brother and Homer, blind and crippled, died several days later of malnutrition, dehydration, and cardiac arrest. Not a happy way to go.



So kids, clean your room and get outside and play with your friends.


March 21, 1962 -
A two-year old female black bear, named Yogi, was taken aboard a B-58 bomber out of Edwards Air Force Base in California, flown up to 35,000 feet at a supersonic speed of 850 miles per hour, and ejected from the bomber in a specially made capsule. She landed safely, and became the first living creature to survive a parachute jump from a plane flying faster than sound.

Imagine what PETA would have made of this test at the time.


March 21, 1963 -
Alcatraz Prison was closed at the order of Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy on this date.



Hardened criminals would have to go elsewhere to experience the joys of prison sex by the sea.


March 21, 1970 -
On this date, Vinko Bogataj crashes during a ski-jumping championship in Germany;



his image becomes that of the "agony of defeat" guy in the opening credits of ABC's Wide World of Sports.


March 21, 1976 -
David Bowie and Iggy Pop were arrested on suspicion of marijuana possession in New York. They were released on $2,000 bail. The charges were later dropped.



Musicians using drugs - shocking, shocking, I tell you.


March 21, 1980 -
Mobster Angelo The Docile Don Bruno was killed with a shotgun blast to the head while he waits in his car after dinner. The order was probably ordered Anthony Tony Bananas Caponigro, Bruno's consigliere, so much for family loyalty. His replacement, one of Bruno's former capo Phil Chicken Man Testa, is short lived, as he is killed a year later by a nail bomb at his home.

One must assume that their parents knew something about their future careers when giving them middle names.


Today's episode of Oh, that Wacky Russian Revolution:

The Russian Royal family was having a really bad day. On March 21, 1917, Nicholas II and his family were arrested. It was a confused and confusing period, and the situation would only continue to deteriorate until the October Revolution (in November).

The eventual triumph of the proletariat, as everyone knows, finally put an end to all the suffering and oppression in Russia.

Since yesterday was Fred Rogers birthday, I believe an important comparison should be shown to help you better understand the Russian Imperial dynasty:

Hereditary heads of the Romanov Russian empire, 1613-1917: 19
Hosts of the long-running PBS series Mr Rogers’ Neighborhood: 1
Russian heads of state to have died by natural causes: 10
On-screen deaths on Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood: 0
Average length of Russian reign, in years: 15.6
Years Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood ran: 31
Russian emperors to die of dropsy: 1
Dropsy deaths in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe: 0
Russian emperors assassinated: 5
Assassination attempts on the life of King Friday XIII: 0
Bolshevik Revolutions in the Neighborhood of Make Believe: 0

Please be prepared for a quiz tomorrow.



And so it goes.


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Before you go - While I'm not a big fan of Graham Norton, the producers of The Graham Norton Show created a very funny clip reel of some of the funniest couch stories they have:



I wholly endorse the guest on talk shows drinking.