Saturday, September 12, 2009

Good Night Mr Walters

September 12, 1978 -
Taxi started looking for fares on this date.

Tony Danza drove the cab for the opening sequence; he was in New York to shoot a scene that would air in the first season finale. It ended up being the whole series' only scene filmed in New York.

September 12, 1955 -
Another of Orson Welles' great Shakespearean films, Othello, finally opens in New York City on this date.

The movie was shot over three years and production was stopped twice, mainly because Wells ran out of money. He then starred in the films The Third Man (1949) and Prince of Foxes (1949). He took his payment from those films and used them as money for "Othello".

September 12, 1958 -
The ultimate drive-in movie, The Blob, premiered on this date.

The title song "The Blob" was co-written by Burt Bacharach

Today in History -
September 12, 490 B.C., looked like it was going to be a pretty bleak day for Western Civilization. The Greeks, who were not yet Ancient or Classical, were facing a massive invasion of Persians. Persia was not yet part of the Axis of Evil, but was pretty nasty just the same. They had more soldiers than the Greeks, better cavalry, and better weapons. (They did not have ouzo or moussaka, however; it may have been envy of those quintessentially Greek achievements that drove them to invade.)

The General in charge of the Greeks was the Athenian Miltiades, also known as Uncle Milti.

In addition to his own Athenians, he had been given Plataean soldiers and the promised support of Spartans. It was the first time the various city-states had prepared to fight together against a common enemy.

Despite his strong defensive footing, entrenched in the hilly terrain of Marathon, Uncle Milti was afraid that the superior numbers of the Persians would allow them to fight through the Greek defenses and destroy Western Civilization. In order to prevent this, he launched an offensive.

It caught the Persians off guard, driving them off the land, into their ships, and back to Persia.

This was the Battle of Marathon, at which Western Civilization was saved for the first time—ensuring a future for diet cola, fat-free potato chips, and pay-per-view sports. (The Battle of Marathon is not related to the Marathon Bar or Marathon Man, but neither of them could have come about without it.)

Here is a special note to the strange people who run marathons. After winning this battle, a runner, the soldier Pheidippides, was send back to Athens to announce the victory.

Racing over 26 miles to get back to Athens, Pheidippides delivered the momentous message "Niki!" ("victory"), then promptly collapsed and died, thereby setting a precedent for dramatic conclusions to the marathon and the first sports product endorsement.

Remember that, the next time you run.

September 12 1609-
The explorer Henry Hudson sailed up the river which eventually came to be called the Hudson River, on this date. He was on an expedition for the Dutch East India Company, trying to find a passage to Asia — the Northwest Passage. This was back when Europeans believed that North America was a rather small land mass, and if they could just find a way through it, they could get to the Asian markets. The Dutch were not great masterminds it appears.

Henry Hudson sailed up the river, anchoring his ship at what is now West 42nd Street and the Hudson. He was hoping to get tickets to see Mary Poppins or at least the Lion King When he discovered that he was at least 350 years too earlier and that the only tickets available were the all - Indian version of Fiddler on the Roof, he immediately got back on his boat and went up as far as the site of modern day Albany, turned around, and went back to Amsterdam.

September 12 1878 -
The magnificent phallic symbol Cleopatra's Needle is erected in London on the bank of the Thames. It doesn't really have anything to do with Cleopatra.

The obelisk has a twin in New York's Central Park, also named Cleopatra's Needle.

It has nothing to do with Cleopatra, either.

September 12 1966 -
NBC television premieres The Monkees, a sitcom about four guys in a rock band.

When the show becomes a hit, the fictional Monkees somehow release a string of albums, even though three of the actors can't even play their instruments.

September 12 1977 -
The body of Steven Biko is discovered on the floor of a jail cell in Pretoria. The South African civil rights activist had been beaten and tortured six days earlier, during an interrogation in Port Elizabeth.

Police officials claim that Biko probably suffered the fatal injuries when he "fell out of bed."

September 12 1994 -
After a night of boozing and smoking crack, Frank Corder steals a Cessna P150 and crashes it into the south lawn of the White House.

The wreckage tumbles over a tree and a hedge before coming to rest against the West Wing of the Executive Mansion. Corder's flamboyant suicide attack never actually imperiled President Clinton's life, since the First Family was sleeping elsewhere at the time. There is no truth to the rumour that Newt Gingrich bought Frank the boozes and the crack.

And so it goes.

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