Monday, March 31, 2008

It the Beginning of the end in the Bronx

It's the last opening day at the old Yankee Stadium today. Feel free to take home your seat when you leave the game, they won't mind.


Here is your Today in History -


March 31 1492 -
Ferdinand and Isabel expel all of the Jews from Spain. Even with the infusions of gold and silver arriving during the 16th century from the Americas, this is an act from which Spain never recovers. By expelling their merchant and banking class, Jews and Muslims, the country is left ill-equipped to process the new wealth, which ultimately winds up in the coffers of other countries and squandered on disastrous military campaigns.



March 31, 1889 -
The Eiffel Tower as it exists today was built in 1889, but its history dates back to Gallic times. Documents that have been carbon-dated to roughly 200 B.C. indicate that King Catatonix of the Hellatians decreed, for no apparent reason, the construction of a big tower on the very site where the Eiffel Tower can be found today.



In Caesar’s “Reflections on the Garlic Wars,” the Roman general reminisces on having found “a curious wooden tower, tall and strange.” Baffled by this peculiar cultural monolith, and never happy to be baffled, he burned it to the ground.

Some four centuries later, with the western Roman Empire in collapse, wild-eyed Gallic nationalists rebuilt the tower using cheese instead of wood. They called it “La Grande Fromage,” from which we get the expression, “The Big Cheese.”

During subsequent invasions by and entanglements with Normans, Saxons, Angles, Ostrogoths, Visigoths, and Lolligoths, the Tower was repeatedly destroyed and rebuilt, always for no apparent reason. It had become a sort of habit by now, a national obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Rene Descartes was born on March 31, 1596. Descartes said that he existed because he thought, and although he said it in Latin everyone still had to admit that it looked like Reason had finally entered the world. Therefore the Franks (who now called themselves the French, primarily to irritate Germany) lost interest in the tower, and at last abandoned the effort.



Unfortunately, in 1870 German chancellor Otto von Bismarck (born April 1, 1815) defeated the French army in a Sedan and laid siege to Paris. This made the French lose their heads (see also the French Revolution). They forgot all about Reason and made Gustav Eiffel build a Tower, this time using steel, which was stronger than cheese and not quite as flammable as wood. It stands to this day, a proud monument French culture, without which we would not have Champagne, Camembert, Brigitte Bardot, or Marcel Proust.



March 31, 1959 -
The Dalai Lama is forced to leave Tibet, after the Red Communists (Evil Bastards) make it very unpleasant for him to stay. He accuses the Chinese of making genocide against the Tibetan people, by systematic destruction of Tibetan culture and execution of thousands of prominent citizens.




March 31, 1991 -
Danny Bonaduce arrested for assault after he fought with a transvestite prostitute. No contest, 750 hours community service.



March 31, 1995 -
The president of the Selena Fan Club, Yolanda Saldivar, kills the Tejano music popstar Selena in Corpus Christi, TX. "It just went off, I didn't mean to do it. I didn't mean to kill anybody". That might be true, but the jury did not believe her. Remember folks, never let a crazy fan with a gun license and bad credit be the head of your fan club.



And so it goes

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Another day in the blogesphere

Here is your Today in History -

March 30 315 -
The Donation of Constantine grants to the See of Rome dominion over all earthly thrones of Europe, a document made by the Roman Emperor Constantine I after his conversion to Christianity in return for being cured from leprosy (it was the least he could do after avoiding his nose falling off his face). But in 1440, anachronisms in the document prove that it was really a fraud written around 752 AD, during the reign of and under orders of Pope Stephen II and the Frankish king Charlemagne (more
about him later).




March 30 1282 -
After vespers on Easter Monday, a French sergeant named Drouet touches the breast of a young Sicilian bride, causing an outrage that precipitated the slaughter of perhaps 2,000 Frenchmen living and ruling over Sicily. Lesson here, don't cop a feel of someone else wife after church, especially if they're Sicilian.



One of Giuseppe Verdi's most musically acclaimed operas, Les Vêpres Siciliennes is based on this conflict.

On March 30, 1853, Vincent Van Gogh was born. Exactly 134 years later to the very day, his painting "Sunflowers" sold for $39.7 million. Van Gogh’s life was full of such eary coincidences.




March 30, 1863 -
Danish prince Wilhelm Georg is chosen as King George of Greece. King George I is the grandfather of Prince Philip, yes that Prince Philip. Kids, now follow this: Philip and his lovely wife Elizabeth are second cousins once removed: they are both descended from Christian IX of Denmark - Elizabeth II is a great-great-granddaughter through her paternal great-grandmother Alexandra of Denmark, and the Duke is a great-grandson through his paternal grandfather George I of Greece. As well as second
cousins once removed, the couple are also third cousins: they share Queen Victoria as a great-great-grandmother. Elizabeth's great-grandfather was Edward VII, while Edward's sister Alice, Grand Duchess of Hesse and by Rhine was the Duke's great-grandmother. This was probably painfully obvious to them on their wedding day as everyone assembled to witness their wedding was related. So goes love amongst the royals and hillbillies.




On March 30, 1870, the U.S. Congress readmitted Texas to the Union. Texas is the only
state in the Union whose name is an anagram for taxes. Texas had been naughty and seceded in 1861, but they said they were sorry and promised never to do it again. Congress didn’t think they really meant it, but let them back in anyway, after making Texas write "I will not secede from the union" 500 times.Conclude this paragraph with the Texaphobic slur or Texaphiliac slogan of your choice.


March 30, 1964 -
What gameshow has been on the air since this date? Pens down. Merv Griffin's game show Jeopardy! makes its debut on television. Art Fleming hosts the first version, on NBC.




March 30, 1968 -
Two children in the Bowery come across the body of a homeless drug addict later identified as Bobby Driscol, 31, the voice of Disney's "Peter Pan". So I guess he really wouldn't grow up.



March 30, 1981 -
While President Reagan undergoes surgery for a life-threatening gunshot wound, Secretary of State Alexander Haig announces to the press: "As of now, I am in control here, in the White House, pending return of the Vice President." As bloodless coups go, it was a brilliant though short-lived one.



And so it goes

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Another day , another snappy comment

Here is your Today in History -

Georges Seurat died on March 29, 1891. Mr. Seurat was a dotty artist who painted the world as he saw it. Sadly, his eye condition was never treated.



March 29, 1932
"Oh, Dennis, Oh, Rochester..." "Yes, Mr. Benny ?"

The eternally 39 year old Benjamin Kubelsky premieres on his weekly radio show which ran from 1932 to 1948 on NBC and from 1948 to 1955 on CBS, and was consistently among the most highly rated programs during most of that run.



March 29, 1951 -
Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are both convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage. While Julius probably pass along secrets to the Soviets, recently declassified documents show that none of them lead to the development of the Russian nuclear
weapons.



Ethel, unfortunately, is another matter. The same declassied document show that the government never believed that Ethel had anything to do with the case and the prosecution led by the lovely Roy Cohn wanted to use her as a 'lever' to pressure
Julius into giving up the names of others who were involved.

She was mainly convicted on the testimony of her brother David Greenglass, a co-defendent in their trial. Greenglass was spared execution in exchange for his testimony. In late 2001, Greenglass recanted all of his testimony against his sister and claimed that he had committed perjury when he testified about her involvment in the case. Greenglass said he chose to falsely testify against his sister in order to protect his wife, who in fact was spying for the Russian. Isn't brotherly love
grand?

March 29, 1977 -
Lee Harvey Oswald's best friend, and coincidentally a friend of both Jackie Kennedy and George HW Bush, Dallas socialite George de Mohrenschildt dies from a self-inflicted shotgun wound to the mouth, at 3:45 pm. It is likely he was going to be called to testify before the House Select Committee on Assassinations.



March 29, 1979 -
A U.S. House of Representatives committee report finds that John F. Kennedy's assassination was the result of a conspiracy.

March 29, 1992 -
Arkansas Governor and Presidential candidate Bill Clinton tells the New York Times: "When I was in England, I experimented with marijuana a time or two, and I didn't like it. I didn't inhale, and never tried it again." And remember, he did not have sexual relations with that woman.



Mar 29 1997 -
Kazuo Konya, a former member of the Aum cult, tells Tokyo Municipal Court that he paid $8,100 for the privilege of drinking the guru's blood in a 1988 initiation ritual. Other former cult members also testify they paid for blood, strands of Shoko Asahara's hair, and his bath water. Some say they paid $2,400 for an intravenous injection of an unknown substance. Ironically, all throughout, Asahara preached to his followers that they should renounce materialism.



Folk, in case you don't remember, these are the people that released the sarin gas in the Tokyo subway system.


And so it goes.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Merry Christmas everybody.

According to Des Pascha Comutus, written in 243 CE, Jesus Christ's birthday was March 28. It later became the familiar December 25 after the Catholic Church changed it in 336. So Merry Christmas everybody.

Here is your Today in History -


March 28, 193-
The Roman ruler Pertinax was at his palace when a contingent of some three hundred soldiers rushed the gates. Pertinax was somewhat distracted. Ancient sources suggest that the soldiers had received only half their promised donativum (pay or bribe money not to kill him). Pertinax had only been emperor for 86 days and didn't have enough time to sell off the previous Emperor Commodus' property (including the concubines and youths Commodus kept for his sexual pleasures) in the giant fire sale he was having.




Neither the guards on duty nor the palace officials chose to resist them. Pertinax, although advised to flee, attempted to reason with them (never try to reason with unpaid Roman soldiers on a rampage), and was almost successful before being struck down by a member of the Praetorian Guard. There being no obvious successor and no Senatorial volunteers, the Guard auctions off the emperorship. The high bidder is Senator Didius Julianus, for 300 million sesterces. After hearing of this, Roman general Septimus Severus in Dalmatia marched on Rome, beheading the new emperor upon arrival.
Both films, The Fall of the Roman Empire and Gladiator both take the same historical event as a starting point.




March 28, 1930 -
Istanbul was Constantinople
Now it's Istanbul, not Constantinople
Been a long time gone, Constantinople
Why did Constantinople get the works?
That's nobody's business but the Turks.

Constantinople and Angora change their names to Istanbul and Ankara.

I won't post the video again.


March 28, 1941-
Virginia Woolf drowns herself by weighing her pockets with stones and walking into the River Ouse near her home because she a dream that Nicole Kidman would portray her in a film with a truly horrifying fake nose.




March 28, 1947 -
A leftover Japanese boobytrap from WWII explodes in Corregidor, killing 28.


March 28, 1979 -
The Unit 2 nuclear power plant (a pressurized water reactor manufactured by Babcock & Wilcox) on the Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania near Harrisburg suffered a partial core meltdown. The Three Mile Island accident was the worst accident in American commercial nuclear power generating history, even though it led to no deaths or injuries to plant workers or members of the nearby community.




March 28, 1996 -
78 people apparently perish in a fire at the Pasar Anyar shopping center in Bogor, West Java. The estimate is lowered to 10 after it is discovered that most of the dead are store mannequins.


And so it goes.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Oops, he did it again!!!

Apparently, the New York Post (of course) has uncovered an even skankier call girl ring, the former Governor used. Can this sad little story get even more sordid?

Here is your Today in History -

March 27, 30 -
A small time official in a backwater province of the Roman empire gains immortality for practicing good hygiene. Pontius Pilate washes his hands and seals the fate of Jesus.




March 27, 1866 -
Patent for a urinal is granted to Andrew Rankin. Men everywhere stand up and cheer.




March 27, 1945 -
Argentina declares war on Nazi Germany, a tad late in the game. Of course, this was just a silly charade for the benefit of the world community. Argentina would be a quiet ally of Germany for the duration of the war, even welcoming many Nazi and SS leaders to emigrate there in the aftermath.

It was on this day in 1958 that Nikita Khrushchev assumed control of the Soviet Union when he took over as premier (Evil Bastard, new style) of the country, five years after the death of Joseph Stalin. Unlike most of the early Soviet leaders, who were all members of the Russian middle class, Khrushchev actually came from the working class (a very polite way of saying, he was as dumb as dirt). His father was a coal miner, and his grandfather had been a serf. Khrushchev worked his way up through the ranks of the party until he became a close ally of Joseph Stalin, and during the mass executions of 1930s, when Stalin purged the party of all his suspected political enemies, Khrushchev was one of only three provincial secretaries to survive.

So upon Stalin's death in 1953, when Khrushchev began to work behind the scenes to take control of the party, there was no reason to believe he wouldn't just continue Stalin's reign of terror. But instead, in 1956, Khrushchev gave a four-hour speech to the 20th Congress of the Soviet Communist Party, viciously attacking Stalin's legacy and abuses of power, detailing all the innocent people Stalin had imprisoned, tortured, and murdered during his reign. The night Khrushchev gave the speech, no one knew exactly what he was planning to say. Witnesses said later that some members of the audience fainted from the shock of hearing Stalin criticized. Several audience members committed suicide a few days later. Many went insane having to endure a four hour speech by a semi literate politburo member.



The speech was never officially announced to the public( for fear of the mass suicides - think Monty Python's WWII 'funny' joke), and Khrushchev never admitted to having made it, but word of the speech immediately began to leak out to intellectual circles and the foreign press. It was a bombshell, and it helped bolster Khrushchev's power at home and abroad. He became the premier two years later, on this day in 1958.

March 27, 1963
It's the birthday of the noted filmmaker, crack addict and foot fetisher Quentin Tarantino, born in Knoxville, Tennessee. He was diagnosed as hyperactive as a kid, and didn't get along with his classmates or his teachers. His parents had to tie a pork chop around his neck to get the dog to play with him. The only things that calmed him down were comic books, movies and continually swallowing wristwatches. From the time when he was a toddler, his mother let him watch whatever movies he wanted. He watched everything from kung fu movies to French art house films (perhaps a little too much kung fu movies, some might argue).

He started taking acting classes (obviously failing those courses), and in his spare time he rewrote screenplays of movies he'd already seen from memory. Instead of going to film school, he got a job at video rental store that had one of the largest video collections in Southern California. Several other aspiring filmmakers worked there, and they would watch movies all day at work, discussing camera angles and dialogue. He spent five years working at the video store, writing screenplays, but he wasn't getting anywhere in his career.



He finally got a break when he met an actor who knew another actor who knew Harvey Keitel, and Keitel agreed to look at one of Tarantino's scripts. Keitel was impressed enough to volunteer to help Tarantino produce the film, and to act in it himself. The result was Reservoir Dogs (1992), which made Tarantino internationally famous. His next film, Pulp Fiction, won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1994, and it went on to win an Academy Award for best screenplay.



These days, in addition to making movies, Tarantino organizes the semi-annual Quentin Tarantino Film Festival, which is devoted to B movies of various genres, including kung fu movies, horror movies, biker movies, cheerleader movies, and women-in-prison movies. So by all means, please slap his mother or father if you come across them today and blame them for the state of today's cinema.

And so it goes.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I'm sure she really wants to share what she thinks.

I'm very glad to see that Chelsea told the questioner that it was none of her business what she (Chelsea) thought about Monica. Hopefully other politicians will follow suit.

Here's the Daily Onion -



It was just another boring day in history -

March 26, 1199 -
All seemed right with the Medieval world. Richard the Lionheart was taking an evening stroll around the castle perimeter without his chain mail, investigating the progress of soldiers trying to destroy the fortress in which he was seeking refuge. Arrows were occasionally fired from the castle walls, but these were given little attention. One defender in particular was of great amusement to the King - a man standing on the walls, cross bow in one hand, the other clutching a frying pan which he had been using all day as a shield to beat off missiles (this is what passed for amusement in 1199). He deliberately aimed an arrow at the King, which the King applauded. However, another arrow then struck him in the left shoulder near the neck. He tried to pull this out in the privacy of his tent, but failed; a surgeon, called a 'butcher' by Hoveden, removed it, 'carelessly mangling' the King's arm in the process. However, the wound swiftly became gangrenous. Accordingly, Richard asked to have the cross bowman brought before him - the man proved a boy. This boy claimed that Richard had slain the boy's father and two brothers, and that he had slain Richard in vengeance. The boy expected to be slain; Richard, as a last act of mercy, forgave the boy his crime, saying, "Live on, and by my bounty behold the light of day," before ordering the boy to be freed and sent away with 100 shillings. Richard then set his affairs in order, bequeathing all his territory to his brother John and his jewels to his nephew Otto.




Richard died on Tuesday, 6 April 1199 in the arms of his mother; it was later said that "As the day was closing, he ended his earthly day." His death was later referred to as 'the Lion [that] by the Ant was slain'. His last act of chivalry proved pointless: as soon as Richard was dead, his most infamous mercenary captain Mercadier had the boy who fired the fatal arrow flayed alive and then hanged. So much for pardons.


March 26, 1827 -
German composer Ludwig Van Beethoven dies in Vienna. He had been deaf for the later part of his life, but said on his death bead "I shall hear in heaven." I wonder how that worked out for him?



March 26, 1830 -
Joseph Smith publishes The Book of Mormon, after translating it from golden plates turned over by the angel Moroni. Smith maintained that the text contained in the tablets were written in "Reformed Egyptian" which he read by means of two magic stones from the Old Testament, the Urim and Thummim.




March 26, 1931 -
As if some cosmic force far greater than any of us can understand, Leonard Nimoy is born four day after William Shatner.




March 26, 2233 (There is some controversy surrounding this date) -
James Tiberius Kirk will be born to Winona & George Samuel Kirk, Sr. in a small farming community in Riverside, Iowa. As the Captain will be quoted in the future, ""I'm from Iowa, I only work in outer space". Although born on Earth, he was apparently raised, at least for a time, on Tarsus IV, where he was one of only nine surviving witnesses to the massacre of 4,000 colonists because of utilitarian extermination by Kodos the Executioner so that the colony could survive a devastating famine.



And so it goes.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Please stop talking

Dear Governor Paterson,

While it is admirable that you want to be open with the press - PLEASE stop telling us about all of your transgressions. I live in dread fear of what other disclosures lie ahead. Nose picking? Dirty sock sniffing? Eating cake from the garbage? Who knows? And far more importantly, who cares?

I didn't realize that the Onion had begun posting their stories on youtube:




Here's your Today in History -

Anne Brontë was baptised on March 25, 1820. She and her sisters Charlotte and Emily were avid writers. Women were not supposed to write books at the time because novels were still being written in the formal style, and it was feared that women would corrupt that classic form with their penchant for multiple climaxes. The Brontës therefore wrote under the pseudonyms Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell. Charlotte got to be Currer, which made the other girls jealous, because Currer was the handsome and swarthy sailor: Ellis was the stuttering librarian, and Acton was the simpleminded shepherd.



The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City on March 25, 1911, was the largest industrial disaster in the history of the city of New York, causing the death of 148 garment workers who either died from the fire or jumped to their deaths. It was the worst workplace disaster in New York City until September 11th, 2001. The fire led to legislation requiring improved factory safety standards and helped spur the growth of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union, which fought for better working conditions for sweatshop workers in that industry.




March 25, 1915 -
In 1915, first submarine disaster; US F-4 sinks off Hawaii, 21 lives lost.




March 25, 1967 -
As part of Operation Green Mist, the U.S. Army detonates explosive warheads containing the deadly sarin nerve agent at Upper Waiakea Forest Reserve on the big island of Hawaii. The open-air tests are kept secret for more than thirty years.

March 25, 1975 -
King Faisal of Saudi Arabia was assassinated by his nephew during a reception at Ri'Assa Palace. The errant nephew was executed by beheading.



March 25, 1990 -
An intentionally set fire at the Happy Land Social Club in NYC kills 87 by smoke inhalation.


And so it goes

Monday, March 24, 2008

SO that's what they do with them.

According to the Daily News, Oprah Winfrey and Barbara Walters reverse the effects of aging with the foreskin enriched face cream, SkinMedica. And you thought Barbara bathed in the blood of young virgins.

Here's your Today in History -

March 24, 1401 -
Tamerlane conquered Damascus. Tamerlane (Timur the Lane) was a descendant of Ghenghis Khan, and one of the greatest Tater leaders ever, expanding the Mongol empire from the Pacific to the Meditterranean. Tamerlane is best remembered for having built pyramids out of human skulls, owing to a faulty understanding of architecture which no one ever had the courage to correct.



March 24, 1874 -
Harry Houdini, magician, escape artist, was born on this date. He is still working on perfecting his final trick of coming back from the dead.




March 24, 1895 -
Arthur Murray, American dancer who founded dance schools, proving to millions of Americans that they have no innate sense of rhythm.




March 24, 1973 -
Lou Reed's ass bitten onstage by rabid fan (and not a fan with rabies) in Buffalo. I wonder if you can get a contact high from ass biting.



March 24, 1989 -
Cold Fusion is announced. To celebrate this amazing advancement in energy, Captain Joseph Hazelwood downs, in rapid succession, five double vodka on the rocks and pilots the Exxon tanker Valdez, into a well-charted reef at Prince William sound, spilling 11 million gallons of crude oil.



And so it goes

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter

Happy Easter Folks!!!


via videosift.com


Here is your Today in History -

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, 1919 -
Benito Mussolini founded his own party in Italy. 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,, 1985 -
Billy Joel married supermodel Christie Brinkley in New York. It was unbelievable. It was so exciting. Here was this rich but kind of funny-looking musician marrying this beautiful, wealthy model. No one had ever seen anything like it before. It changed everything. Nothing would ever be the same. It was like "Uptown Girl" had come true. I still can't believe it.



March 23, 1925 -
Tennessee lawmakers passed a law against 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, 1989
In 1989, a 1000-foot diameter asteroid misses the Earth by only 500,000 miles. (Astronomers did not see it until it passed.)

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.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink

Today is Worldwide Water Day. Lack of potable water is the second leading cause of death in many Third World countries. So please remember to recycle your 'precious bodily fluid'.

Here is your Today in History -

March 22, 1622 -
A band led by the Brother of Powhatan slaughters 347 settlers near Jamestown, in the first Indian massacre. Just think if the Indians had just followed the thought through ....




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 Tanya and Sophie Belcher. 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.




March 22, 1972 -
National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse recommends ending criminal penalties for possession of marijuana. No subsequent administration has heeded their recommendation.




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.




March 22, 1991 -
Ivana divorces The Donald and gains the respect of a nation.



This Day is Show Biz-
William Shatner, arguably the world's great actor, was born today in 1931. But what about truth, what about beauty.




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 Into the Woods, and Andrew Lloyd Weber (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 Man Trapped in an Invisible Box.




Have you been paying attention. Please match the Russian Czar (Tzar, Tsar) with how he met his untimely end:

A. Nicholas II
B. Peter III
C. Paul I
D. Peter the Great
E. Ivan VI
F. Alexander II

1. Overthrown by his own wife, imprisoned, killed by his wife’s favorite
2. Struck in the head with a sword, then strangled and trampled to death in his bedroom.
3. Killed by a bomb thrown by a revolutionary
4. Overthrown in a coup, exiled, imprisoned, killed while trying to escape
5. Caught a chill and died
6. Shot to death by revolutionaries

And so it goes.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Today's Marine Report

Less chance of flying stingrays today especially in Central Park. Feel free to walk about the Great Lawn unmolested by wayward fish.

Happy First Full Day of Spring.

Today is Good Friday, Great Friday, Holy Friday or Long Friday (In China, the ever literal minded Chinese refer to the day as Jesus' Crucifixion Day)

Here is your Today in History -

March 21, 1843 -
According to Biblical crackpot 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 was AWOL on that date also.




March 21, 1962 -
A two-year old female black bear 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 closed. Hardened criminals would have to go elsewhere to experience the joys of prison sex.




March 21, 1970 -
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 dropped. Musicians using drugs - shocking, shocking, I tell you.



March 21, 1980 -
Mobster Angelo "The Docile Don" Bruno 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.




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 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
Deaths on "Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood": 0
Average length of Russian reign, in years: 15.6
Years "Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood" has been running: 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 draw your own conclusions and be prepared for a quiz tomorrow.

And so it goes.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Won't you wear a sweater?



It's Holy or Maundy Thursday today (and not Maundy Monday). Amongst the other things going on - it a big confessional day - so in honor of that, I will post, "Confessions of a Fallen Alter boy" - tales from my misspent youth as an Altar boy at St. John's. Hear the tales of the beatings by drunken priest, the secret drinking of the sacramental wine, the willful intent to force others to puke up the Eucharist. Those uninterested in the wanton tales of Catholic youth gone wrong need read no further.

I became an Altar boy because you got out of school early twice a week. You did have to do an early mass (7:00 AM) once a week but what the hell. The priest that ran the program was a frustrated football coach. We would have our weekly meeting and he would roll a blackboard out onto the altar and diagram what we were supposed to do.

He also told us that when at rest, we should keep our hands loosely clasped at our waist not at crotch level. "You boys do not have balls big enough to walk around holding them," he would warn us.

The duties of an altar boy are vast and complex. You had to set up before mass –you making sure there was water and wine and enough hosts ready for mass. If you ever wanted to have your little mind blown, open up the jumbo bag o' body of Christ and fill up the receptacle like so much cocktail peanuts.

Since these are not yet been consecrated you are permitted to handle them. But you had to guess how many parishioners would attend mass because the priest hated waste and if he didn't have mass later that day, he had to consume the remaining hosts (nothing worse that stale eucharists). But God forbid you didn't have enough and you had to run back in to get some more – that got you a smack to the head.

Yes, priests were allowed to smack the altar boys around. The priest was holy and you were a snot nosed kid so if the priest hit you – you must have deserved it.

Then there was the issue of the holy wine. Each priest had his own special mixture of wine and water to create the sacrament. One priest liked sherry. Another liked white wine. The third like the traditional red wine. But monsignor liked his scotch, with just a splash of water for his `Blood o' Christ'.

"Boyo, don't be stingy with the scotch this morning, tis cold and you didn't pay for it," monsignor would hiss under breath. "And not too much water. Christ wasn't anemic boyo."

Besides having to dole out the sacraments, Altar boys had to hold the bible for priest during mass. You had to mark the appropriate space for the daily mass and be prepared to open to that page when called upon to do so. Woe was you if you forgot to mark your place or didn't hold the book steady enough or close enough when the priest had a hangover and his sight was blurry. That got you a smack to the back of the head.

You also had to ring a special set of bells at a specific point in the mass. God forbid you rang them too enthusiastically (to get your friends attention) or worse, missed the cue and rang them too late. That got you another smack to the head.

You also had to lay out the correct vestments for the day's mass. The little old ladies, who were the handmaidens to priest, would tag them for you and you had to take them out of the garment bag. Sometimes the old ladies were running late or they forgot and you had to guess which garment. That could be you a boot in the ass for the wrong guess.

One of your main tasks was to play catcher for fallen hosts. For those of you who remember (or know), the priest had to place the body of Christ directly on the tongue of the receiver. The altar boy walks next to the priest, holding a small serving tray on a stick under the chin of the receiver, just in case, the priest dropped the Eucharist or it slipped from the receivers mouth. In that horrific case, the priest had to consume the host himself. Also if someone throws up right after receiving communion, the priest had to re-ingest the pre-digested communion wafer. (Yes, you know where we're going with this.)

Altar boys would practice the secret art of flicking the tray, so they could force their friends to spit up the host and watch the priest have to eat the pre-moistened host. But you had to do this, without the priest catching you – it meant instant dismissal from the ranks of altar boydom. Yes, I got one or two of my friends in the throat and never go caught.

Now we come up to the another important function of the altar boy – towel boy. At the end of communion, the priest cleans his hands and finishes the wine (Blood O' Christ) in the chalice.

The altar boy's job is to pour water for the priest as he rinses his fingers of the Crumbs O' Christ into the chalice and then offer him a hand towel before he finishes off his holy drink. Unlike the attendants in washrooms, no tips were offered for your services. It was just, `hurry it up, we're not washing my dick here' or `Not too much, that was the good sherry you poured today. I'm going to kill you when we get back into the sacristy'.

At this point, mass was nearly over and if you were lucky so was your torture. Either you had the beatings hanging over your head or you know you could make a quick get away. Once mass was over, you have to stow away the various items that were used during mass and hang up the priest's vestments. If you weren't in trouble or one of the little old ladies were there – you could make a mad dash by to school or to home. If you did something wrong or the priest was already deep into his cups – there could be hell to pay.

You'd hope for the quick smack to the back of the head. You could get the slow torture of thumbs against the wall. Place you hands straight in front of you then step back about a foot. Then lean against the wall with just your thumbs while the priest busied himself around the altar and sacristy after mass.

The Vernal Equinox occurs at 1:48 AM EDT on March 20. That means it’s spring. Take off your clothes.

Here is your Today in History -

On March 20, 1815, Napoleon Bonaparte entered Paris and began his "Hundred Days" rule, which lasted 94 days. Days were measures in the metric system back then.

March 20, 1828 -
It's the birthday of playwright Henrik Ibsen, born in Skien, Norway. He was a small time cherry herring bootlegger and an assistant stage manager for a new theater, where it was his job to produce a new drama each year based on Norway's glorious past. He produced a number of plays, but none got any attention (owning much to the fact that while it was true that Norway did have a past - most of it was quite boring. None of it was glorious.) Overworked, under paid and very cold, he applied to the government for a stipend to study the fjords. The government decided to give him one to to travel abroad, and off he went. He spent the next 27 years living in Italy and Germany, pining for the fjords.

He found that by leaving his homeland, he could finally thaw out and see Norway clearly, and he began to work on creating a true Norwegian drama. At a time when most people were writing plays full of sword fights and murders, Ibsen started to write plays about relationships between ordinary people. The type of people that have terrible social diseases, suicidal tendencies, murderous intent in their heart, incestuous thoughts and old lechs - the ordinary people of Norway.

He used dialogue rather than monologues to reveal his characters' emotions, and he stopped writing in verse. He said, "We are no longer living in the age of Shakespeare. ... What I desire to depict [are] human beings, and therefore I [will] not let them talk the language of the gods." Except he said that in Norwegian.

One of Ibsen's first important plays was A Doll's House (1879), about a woman named Nora who refuses to obey her husband and eventually leaves him, walking out of the house and slamming the door in the final scene. When it was first produced, European audiences were shocked, and it sparked debate about women's rights, divorce and home improvements across the continent. It also changed the style of acting. At the time, most actors were praised for their ability to deliver long poetic speeches and avoiding bumping into the furniture, but Ibsen emphasized small gestures, the inflection of certain words, and pauses, and he inspired a new generation of actors to begin embodying the characters they played.

A Doll's House made Ibsen a celebrity across Europe. His play Ghosts (1881) came out two years later. It's frank depiction of pottery making further scandalized the theatre going population.

Henrik Ibsen said, "You should never have your best trousers on when you go out to fight for freedom and truth. You should also never wear them when mucking out the toilets of the theatre. Have you seen what these actors eat?"



There is only one known picture in which Ibsen smiles. And yes, he was passing gas at the time.

March 20, 1899 -
Martha M. Place, the first woman to be honored with a warm seat in the electric chair, for the bloody murder of her 17 year old stepdaughter Ida, dies at Sing-Sing Prison. Having never executed a woman in the electric chair, those responsible for carrying out the death warrant devised a new way to place the electrodes upon her. They decided to slit her dress and place the electrode on her ankle. Edwin Davis was the executioner. According to the reports of witnesses, she died instantly (having a large amount of electric course through your body normally results in ones death).

The governor of the State of New York Theodore Roosevelt was asked to pardon Place, but he refused. "Bully!" Martha Place was buried in the family cemetery plot in East Millstone, New Jersey without religious observances.




March 20, 1928 -
Remarkably, Fred Rogers was born today in Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood and not some other place.






March 20, 1969 -
Small town musician (John Lennon) marries small time conceptual artist (Yoko Ono) on this date. I wonder what ever happened to them.



March 20, 1995 -
Last words of Thomas J. Grasso, executed in Oklahoma by lethal injection: "I did not get my Spaghetti-O's, I got spaghetti. I want the press to know this." Duly noted Mr. Grasso.



And so it goes.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

An anniversary perhaps not worth having

It's the fifth anniversary of the second Gulf War. At some point today, please keep in minds the fine men and women who have given their lives in this endeavor.


Here is your Today in History -

It's the Feast of St. Joseph, stepdad to Jesus. Remember to go out and have the very delicious Sicilian pastry that bears his name. It's so good, it brings you that much closer to God.



If you live in Capistrano, remember the swallows are coming back today, eat you pastries indoors.




March 19, 1943 -
Francesco Raffaele Nitto, better known as, "Frank 'The Enforcer' Nitti", one of the top henchmen of Alphonse "Big Al," "Scarface" Capone and later the front man for the mob Capone created, the Chicago Outfit, was having a very bad day. Many top members of the Chicago Outfit were indicted for extortion. These individuals included Nitti, Ricca, Louis "Little New York" Campagna, Ralph Pierce, Filippo "John 'Handsome Johnny' Roselli" Sacco, Nick Circella, Phil D'Andrea, and Charles "Cherry Nose" Gioe. The Outfit was accused of trying to strong arm some of the largest Hollywood movie studios. The studios had cooperated with The Outfit to avoid union trouble stirred up by the mob.

The day before his scheduled grand jury appearance, Nitti shared breakfast with his wife in their Riverside, Illinois home at 712 Selborne Road. As his wife was leaving for church, Nitti told her he planned to take a walk. After his wife left, Nitti began to drink heavily. He then loaded a .32 caliber revolver, put it in his coat pocket, and walked five blocks to a local railroad yard. Two railroad workers (William F. Sebauer and Lowell M. Barnett) spotted Nitti walking on the track of an oncoming train and shouted a warning. They thought the train hit him, but Nitti had managed to jump out of the way in time. Then two shots rang out. The trainmen first thought Nitti was shooting at them, but then realized he was trying to shoot himself in the head. The two bullets went through his hat. Nitti finally sat on the ground against a fence and, with the railroad workers watching from a distance, shot himself in the head. Frank Nitti died on an Illinois Central railroad siding in North Riverside, Illinois on this date.


March 19, 1945 -
The Third Reich's World Tour is drawing to an abrupt close. And the band members are understandably depressed. The ever wacky and truly evil bastard Adolf Hitler orders all military and industrial facilities within the Third Reich destroyed. Albert Speer does everything he can to stop this from happening, in direct defiance of Hitler.




March 19, 1957 -
Elvis Presley tours and has a vision. Before he immediately act upon it, St. Elvis wolfs down seven fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches and agrees to purchase the 14 acre Graceland estate from Ruth Moore for $100,000. It is now his cemetery. Or is it?




March 19, 1982 -
The guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne, Randy Rhoads, dies during the Diary of a Madman tour after the plane he is flying in buzzes the band's tour bus and clips the wing of the plane, crashing into a nearby farmhouse. Kids, once again, repeat after me, drugs are bad.



March 19, 1987 -
Televangelist Jim Bakker resigns his PTL ministry after it is revealed he was delivering a little too much spiritual healing to former church secretary and future Playboy playmate Jessica Hahn.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/84/Graceland_front.jpg


March 19, 2005,
John Zachary DeLorean former American engineer and executive in the U.S. automobile industry, and drug dealer died on this date.



And so it goes.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Everybody's a player

Politicians of a certain age had to consider whether or not they would admit that they may have done drugs during their college years. It now seems that it is all the rage to admit to any and all sexual peccadilloes you may have engaged in - soon one will have to admit to eating too much red meat.

Here's your Today in History -

Mar 18 1314 -
Jacques de Molay, Grand Master of the Knights Templar, is burned at the stake during the final purge of the Templars in France. Among the things de Molay admitted to the Inquisitor panel (though possibly coerced) were the obligation of Templars to deny Christ when they joined, and a sacrament that involved spitting on a crucifix.




Mar 18 1584 -
Ivan IV of Russia died. He is better known by his nickname: Ivan the Terrible. He was the first king of Russia to call himself a Caesar, probably in the hopes that Shakespeare would write a play about him. He couldn't pronounce Caesar, however, so he simply called himself "zar," and subsequent arguments over whether that should be spelled czar, tsar, zar, or tzar became so heated that they eventually resulted in Russian History.




Mar 18 1965 -
The Rolling Stones are fined 5 UKP for urinating on a Stratford garage wall at the ABC, Romford.




Mar 18 1970 -
Country Joe McDonald (of Country Joe and the Fish) is convicted on obscenity charges after he asks for an F, a U, a C, and one other letter at a concert in Massachusetts.




Mar 18 1980 -
A significant percentage of the Soviet space program's scientists are killed when a Vostok rocket explodes on the launch pad. Fifty people die at the Plesetsk Space Center.




And so it goes.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day All

The Feast Day of St. Patrick is celebrated on March 17. St. Patrick is considered the father of Celtic Christianity. He founded more than three hundred churches, drove the snakes out of Ireland, invented green beer, and coined the popular slogan, "Kiss me, I'm Irish."

Today in History:

March 17, 1756 -
St. Patrick's Day is celebrated in New York City for the first time (at the Crown and Thistle Tavern). The celebration evolves into a parade and the St. Patrick's Day Parade in New York City is the largest celebration of the holiday in the world (drawn more revelers than any parade for the holiday in the whole of Ireland.)

March 17, 965 -
Pope Leo VIII dies of a stroke during sexual intercourse. Perhaps a fine way for a man to die, but not a very appropriate choice for the Bishop of Rome.


March 17, 1939 -
After German troops crossed the Czech border, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain threw all his years of careful diplomacy out the window and accused Adolf Hitler of breaking his word. He instantly regretted having let these angry words slip, however, and subsequently resigned.




March 17, 1942 -
John Wayne Gacy, part time clown, serial killer, and sodomizer of dozens of boys, is born in Chicago. His father was convinced Gacy was a "sissy", but friends and family didn't really suspect anything untoward was afoot until his 1968 arrest for coercing a teenage boy employee into committing multiple homosexual acts. It's always a clue.



March 17, 1948 -
The Hells Angels Motorcycle Club is founded in San Bernardino, California by veterans of World War II who were former members of the Pissed Off Bastards. Hell's Angels has 100 chapters globally, with more than 1600 members.




March 17, 1966 -
A U.S. midget submarine, the Alvin, located a missing hydrogen bomb which had fallen from an American bomber into the Mediterranean off Spain. Oops. Most famously, the Alvin was involved in the exploration of the wreckage of RMS Titanic in 1986. Launched from her support ship RV Atlantis II, she carried Dr. Robert Ballard and two companions to the wreckage of the great liner. RMS Titanic sank while attempting to transit the North Atlantic Ocean, after striking a large iceberg in 1912.



Alvin, accompanied by a small remotely operated vehicle (ROV) named Jason Jr., was able to conduct detailed photographic surveys and inspections of the Titanic's wreckage. Many of the photographs of the expedition have been published in the magazine of the National Geographic Society which was a major sponsor of the expedition.


March 17, 1999 -
Six members of the International Olympic Committee are expelled for corruption, all from poor third world countries. They received bribes from Salt Lake City totalling hundreds of thousands of dollars, a practice that had been going on for years. It should also be noted that the IOC Vice President at the time was named "Dick Pound".

March 17, 1960 -
My friend, John is born on this date. Not to be confused with his cousin, John, also a friend of mine, who was also born but not on this date.


March 17, 1970 -
My brother, Keith H., is born at Jewish Memorial Hospital in Upper Manhattan. As was noted at the time, he must be a lucky kid as he was a Puerto Rican baby born in a Jewish Hospital on an Irish holiday.


And so it goes.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Just getting to it

We just got back from a wonderful weekend at friends. It was an International Coffee Moment. Now, I'll go gag myself.

Here is your Today in History -

March 16 -
St. Urho's Day, Patron saint of Finnish vineyard workers. Attributed to him is the miracle of banishing grasshoppers from Finland which he accomplished with a few choice Finnish phrases, thereby saving the season's grape crop. But in reality a bunch of very drunk people made this up in 1956.





March 16 1190 -
More than 150 and perhaps as many as 500 Jews, secured in Clifford's Tower at York, die from suicide and massacre after they are sieged by townspeople under Richard Malebys. Malebys was a nobleman who owed money to the Jews; after their siege all records relating to moneylending were destroyed. It is the largest massacre of Jews in the history of the United Kingdom.


March 16 1792 -
At a masquerade ball, a disgruntled Captain Jacob Johan Ankarstroem shoots Swedish King Gustav III near the heart with a bullet composed of lead and carpet tacks. It took him almost two weeks to die. Ouch!!!

Shakespeare never wrote about Gustavus, probably because Gustavus was born well after Shakespeare's death, but Giuseppe Verdi (in English, "Joe Green") wrote an opera about the affair called Un Ballo in Maschera ("A Bull in Mascara"). And for his effort, the bad Captain is decapitated, drawn, and quartered. Ouch!!!

March 16 1949 -
Erik Estrada's birthday. Reason enough to live another day.




March 16 1968 -
Soldiers of Charlie Company, 11th Brigade Americal Division massacre over 300 civilian men, women, and children in the village of My Lai in South Vietnam.


March 16 1978 -
Italian Red Brigades kidnap former Italian Premier Aldo Moro for release of imprisoned comrades. Moro was murdered and his body found on 9 May 1978.




March 16 1994 -
Figure skater and future foxy boxer Tonya Harding arrested for obstruction of prosecution during the fallout from the Nancy Kerrigan figure skate clubbing. Why, why?




And so it goes.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Recession. What recession?

Very scary yesterday boy and girl down on Wall Street, very scary.

*** I just heard this listening to the radio and it was so scary, I had to jump back in and post it***



You may need to sit down on the couch with a cold compress after that.


Here is your Today in History -

It's a bad day for Italian men in short dresses who are going to the Senate today. So please, all you paisans, wear something sensible, perhaps a midcalf skirt or a pants suit.


March 15, 44 BC -
Julius Caesar, already warned to be wary on this the Ides of March by the astrologer Spurinna, assassinated with pointy knives by a group of Senators, including Brutus and Cassius, at the Pompey theater. They were angry at him because he had crossed the Rubicon. Later Marc Antony borrowed everyone's ears and told them that Brutus was an honorable man, which upset them so much they had a Civil War.





Sixteen centuries later, more or less, William Shakespeare immortalized the story, and eventually Marlon Brando got to play Marc Antony, so everyone was happy in the end.


Caesar is also celebrated because he wrote a famous book called The Garlic Wars, which begins with the famous line, "All garlic is divided into three cloves." It also includes the line "veni, vidi, vinci," the exact meaning of which is still a matter of debate but, if my own Latin studies are worth anything, probably involves Druids and hollandaise sauce.


March 15, 1812 -
Luddites attack Frank Vickerman's wool processing factory at Taylor Hill in West Yorkshire, resulting in general destruction and attempted arson. The rampaging Luddites were incensed because his machines replaced workers, but Vickerman was primarily targeted because of involvement in an Anti-Luddite committee.


Today's episode of Oh, that Wacky Russian Revolution:
At two o'clock in the morning on March 15, 1917 the Tsar sent word to Petrograd that he was awfully sorry about the war and starvation and everything, but that he had some really good ideas about what they could do now, was looking forward to working with them, believed that healthy debate was a symptom of good government, and so on.

The new government told him to blow it out his ass.

And so at three o'clock in the afternoon, Nicholas abdicated in favor of his son (who had measles).

The new government told him and his son to blow it out their asses.

At 11:15 pm, Nicholas signed a proclamation that both he and his son (who had measles) would abdicate in favor of his brother, the Grand Duke Mikhail.

The next day, the new government told Nicholas, his son (who had measles), and the Grand Duke Mikhail to blow it out their asses.

March 15,1972 -
The greatest film ever about corporate management and pasta sauce making, The Godfather, premieres.





And so it goes.

Friday, March 14, 2008

You have the weekend to get ready

for the green bagels and beer on Monday. Good Luck.

Here's your Today in History -

March 14, 1794 -
Eli Whitney is granted a patent for the cotton gin. While drinkable, gin flavored with juniper berries is still a better choice for a very dry martini.







Karl Marx died in London on March 14, 1883. His premature death prevented him from seeing the global impact of his progeny: Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Zeppo. Karl Marx was born in Trier, Prussia May 5,1818. He went to school at a time of severe repression. Pianos had to have skirts on for fear young men would become aroused by the sight of their bare legs. The Prussian government kept the teachers under police surveillance to make sure they wouldn't teach anything too radical like 2 + 2= 4 and so the students, including Marx, became extremely radical.

As a result of his beliefs, Marx was not able to get a job as a chicken inspector after he got his doctorate in philosophy. And without a job, he spent his time analyzing history and stealing tips left for waiters at the coffeehouses he frequented and came to the conclusion that all historical events were caused by economic forces.

He got involved in Communism - the belief that all private property should be abolished, men and women should not bathe or shave and pickled herring should be used as a cologne. Marx moved around Europe, writing for newspapers and pornographic pamphlet, studying, wanting to write a book about his economic ideas. But Marx was an obsessive researcher, and never knew when to stop reading and start writing. He only became productive after he met Friedrich Engels, a socialist who was also wealthy—the heir to a textile business and primitive whoopee cushion novelty item.



Their main theory was that the economic system was a perpetual conflict between those who controlled the capital and those who provided the labor, that the conflict would never be resolved peacefully, that in a free market, workers would continue periodically to lose their jobs, their standard of living would fall, and this would inevitably lead to violent revolution. He believed that giant corporations would dominate the world's industries, that globalism in trade would make markets even more unstable. He also believed that you could hard boil an egg by holding it under one's armpit for a week thus saving money by not paying the gas bill.

Marx and Engels published their Communist Manifesto and Mr. Peepers and the Amorous French Maid in 1848, and revolution did break out afterward in France, Italy, and Austria. Marx's newspaper was shut down. He had to flee the country. He moved to London, worked for years on his last book, Das Kapital. His family in poverty, Marx said, "I don't suppose anyone has ever written about 'money' when so short of the stuff." A spy from Prussia was keeping tabs on him and wrote, "Washing, grooming and changing his clothes are things he does rarely. He does not shave at all. But he does have an unnatural obsession watching Amenian women clip their toenails!"

He fed his family on bread and potatoes, and when one of his children died, his wife had to borrow money from a neighbor to buy a coffin.

When Marx died in 1883, only 11 persons came to his funeral. And they were all charged a mourners tax!



March 14, 1889 -
German Ferdinand von Zeppelin patents his "Navigable Balloon"




Today on March 14 1932, one of the greatest notes was written. George Eastman, the founder of Kodak Corporation, kills himself after a long illness. His suicide note states "To my friends: My work is done. Why wait?" All in all, terse but to the point.



March 14, 1945 -
"I am going to jump into my grave laughing because the knowledge that I have the deaths of millions of people on my conscience is a source of extraordinary satisfaction to me." Adolf Eichmann is purported to have said this, on this date. (Here was one sick little puppy folks)


Remember folks, there are only 287 more shopping days until Christmas.

And so it goes.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The State Nightmare is over

and we can get back to the more pressing issues of the day, What's foing on in Britney's uterus?

Here is your Today in History -

March 13, 1881,
An anarchist Nikolai Rysakov, from the radical group People's Will throws a bomb which disrupts Czar Alexander II's motorcade . After he thanks God for his deliverance, another anarchist Ignacy Hryniewiecki, yells "It is too early to thank God" and throws a second bomb, causing severe injuries from which Alexander bleeds to death several hours later. (Nicholas II, Alexander grandson, was one of the unfortunate witnesses to Czar's gruesome death.)




March 13 is the birthday of L. Ron Hubbard (the "L" is silent). Mr. Hubbard invented Dianetics, which eventually led to Scientology, causing Scientologists and Personality Tests. Scientologists are easily distinguished from Jehovah's Witnesses in that they don't ask you subscribe to The Watchtower and they can often be seen in major motion pictures.




On March 13, the imperial guard, acting on the orders of the dissolved Duma, which had not been dissolved, took the Tsarina and her children (who had measles) into custody. A day later, England and France acknowledged the Executive Committee of the Duma as the official government of Russia.


Meanwhile, Nicholas II had taken a train to Pskov. He knew the revolutionaries would be unlikely to pursue him somewhere so difficult to pronounce.


That evening in St. Petersburg, the Executive Committee of the Duma met with the Petrograd Soviet and agreed that the Russian Cabinet should be dissolved, and also the Tsar.


They established a joint government, with Prince Grigori Lvov at its head, nicely countering the Czar's difficult pronunciation ploy. They put the Russian Cabinet in prison, next to the Russian Credenza.


According to Disney canon, particularly in the 1942 short "Donald Gets Drafted", Donald's full name is Donald Fauntleroy Duck Donald's birthday is officially recognized as June 9, 1934, the day his debut film was released, but in The Three Caballeros, his birthday is given as simply "Friday the 13th". In Donald's Happy Birthday (short) gives his birthday as 13 March.



And so it goes.