Tuesday, March 31, 2009

It was Whacking Day in Australia

I didn't get a chance to post this yesterday -

SYDNEY (Associated Press)– Thousands of poisonous cane toads met their fate Sunday as gleeful Australians gathered for a celebratory mass killing of the hated amphibians, with many of the creatures' corpses being turned into fertilizer for the very farmers they've plagued for years.

Hundreds of participants in five communities across northern Queensland snacked on sausages, sipped cold drinks and picked up prizes as the portly pests were weighed, measured and killed in the state's inaugural "Toad Day Out" celebration.

"To see the look on the faces of the kids as we were handling and weighing the toads and then euthanizing them was just...," Townsville City Councilman Vern Veitch said, breaking off to let out a contented sigh. "The children really got into the character of the event."

I bet PETA is going to be suggesting Australia as a vacation spot this year.


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

Monday, March 30, 2009

Today's post, yesterday

I had to running around today like a chicken without a head, so I wrote this last night. If Godzilla should once again attack Tokyo or Citibank goes out of business, it's not that I ignored it, I just had something else to do.

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 -
OK kids, it's your favorite topic - life among the those wacky imbred royals.

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

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Nobody's Perfect

March 29, 1959 -
Billy Wilder 's film, Some Like It Hot, starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, and Jack Lemmon, premiered on this date.



In 2000, the American Film Institute listed Some Like It Hot as the greatest American comedy film of all time.


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.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Remember, it's not a blackout!

Earth Hour is an international event organized by the /World Wildlife Fund, and held on the last Saturday of March each year, which asks households and businesses to turn off their non-essential lights and electrical appliances for one hour to raise awareness towards the need to take action on climate change.



Earth Hour is currently taking place on Saturday, March 28, 2009 at 8:30 pm, local time.


March 28, 0 -
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.

March 28, 1942,
The Wabbit Who Came to Dinner, another funny Looney Tunes was released on this date.



Notice the pudgy Elmer.


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, 1921 -
Dirk Bogarde, actor and the epitome of coolness, was born on this date.



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.



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, 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.


And so it goes.

Friday, March 27, 2009

My Love is alive (as long as it's plugged in.)

SAGINAW, Mich. (MSNBC)- A man police caught performing a sex act with a car wash vacuum has been sentenced to 90 days in prison.

Jason Leroy Savage must also submit to drug testing.

The 29-year-old from Michigan, was sentenced Wednesday at Saginaw County Circuit Court. Savage pleaded no contest to indecent exposure last month.



Police say Savage was arrested after a resident called officers early on Oct. 16 to report suspicious activity at a car wash in Thomas Township, about 90 miles northwest of Detroit.

Savage's attorney, Philip Sturtz, didn't immediately return a message seeking comment.

I wonder how many quarters you used before you get off.


March 27, 1952 -
Singin' in the Rain, the apex of movie musicals, premiered in New York on this date.





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.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Depression, what Depression

Various news organizations are reporting this morning that shanty towns or "tent cities'" are sprouting up in major cities as the economic downturn is worsening.



It's going to get scary out there folks.


March 26, 1942 -
The Bulleteer, part of the Fleischer Superman animated series, is released on this date



This still holds up.


March 26, 1977 -
Elvis Costello releases his 1st record "Less Than Zero"



Get on those red shoes before the Angels want to borrow them and dance around.


Today in History
March 26, 1199 -
All seemed right with the Medieval world. Richard the Lion heart 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.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Leave the last S off for "SOLVENCY"

Dial a Mattress is has filed for Chapter 11 protection



I guess they should have kept that last S on.

March 25, 1942 -
Aretha Louise Franklin, singer, songwriter and The Queen of Soul was born on this date.




March 25, 1947 -
Reginald Kenneth Dwight, singer-songwriter, composer and pianist was born on this date as well.



By the end of the day, subway fares will probably go up about 25% and go into effect sometime in June. Pervs around the city are depressed - a decrease in ridership will mean less of a captive audience to flash their business. A bright spot could be the general health of NYC residents will go up as more people will be working to work.


Today in History:
Anne Brontë was baptized 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.

Oops.


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. Kids don't let this happen to you - remember to pass the hummus when dining with your family.


And so it goes

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

National Chocolate Covered Raisin Day

National Chocolate Covered Raisin Day is a day to enjoy this tasty combination of chocolate and fruit. Chocolate lovers who like raisins, find the combination simply irresistible. Kids find them irresistible, too.



Just make sure nobody owns a rabbit at the home where you are enjoying those Raisinets (TM).

After subpoenaing the names and addresses of AIG bonus recipients, New York attorney general Andrew Cuomo convinced many said recipients to return the cash (about $50 million dollars, give or take.) Unfortunately, the AIG executives in Britain are basically ignoring Cuomo's populist hardball, given the relative lack of outrage in their country.

But Cuomo announced that nine of the top 10 bonus recipients will return the money! And 15 of the top 20 in the financial products division.

You may ask - what about the $80 million that went to foreigners, and the $35 million in unreturned U.S. bonuses. Mr. Cuomo would like the Americans holding the latter money to know he is conducting a "risk assessment" about releasing their names/addresses. So don't put those pitch forks and torches away just yet.

It's also World Tuberculosis Day, commemorates the day in 1882 when Dr Robert Koch announced that he had discovered the cause of tuberculosis, the TB bacillus (also it is supposed to remind people that tuberculosis still remains an epidemic in much of the world.)

But weighing that with the the celebration of raisinets, I went with the chocolate.

March 24, 1951
Scent-Imental Romeo, another funny Looney Tunes short starring Pepé Le Pew, is released on this date.




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

Monday, March 23, 2009

A humble suggestion.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Alaska's Mount Redoubt volcano erupted four times overnight, sending an ash plume more than 9 miles high into the air, but the state's largest city has likely been spared from any ashfall.



Here's a thought - throw Sarah Palin in to appease the volcano gods.

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.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

If it's yellow, let it mellow

Sorry for the delay - first day of baseball practice (for my daughter.)

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'.


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.




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.


Rope Walking Accident - The most amazing home videos are here


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 (or at leat Canada's) greatest actor was born today in 1931.



But what about truth, what about beauty.


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.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Happy Birthday Matthew

March 21, 1962,
Matthew Broderick, actor and all around mensch, was born on this date.




It's the First Full Day of Spring - don't forget you winter coat.

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.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Spring will be a little late this year

Hey, it's snowing out there.

The Vernal Equinox occurs at 7:44 AM EDT on March 20. That means it’s spring. Take off your clothes.



And remember balance those eggs.

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.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

It's just sad



Natasha Richardson (May 11, 1963 – March 18, 2009) R.I.P.

It's the sixth 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.




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.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Joey, do you like movies about gladiators?

March 18, 1926
Peter Graves, surgically enhanced actor and younger, shorter brother of actor James Arness.





Next on A & E ...


March 18, 1924 -
The Thief of Bagdad, the Douglas Fairbanks swashbuckler adventure film which tells the story of a thief who falls in love with the daughter of the Caliph, is released on this date.




March 18, 1967 -
The Beatles' "Penny Lane" single goes #1




Here's your Today in History -
March 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.

Oh that wacky life during the Middle Ages.



March 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.


March 18, 1913 -
(Once again kids follow along, it's complex.)
Itinerant sailor and general layabout Philip Mountbatten, nee Philip Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg's grandfather, Christian Wilhelm Ferdinand Adolf Georg of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg (sibling to a king and two queens) was out on an afternoon stroll. This in and of itself is not remarkable except for the fact that this minor Danish/ German prince had changed his name to George and became the King of Greece. Wilhelm/ George like most royalty went out for an afternoon stroll without any pocket change (royalty and presidents don't carry money.)

Alexandros Schinas, an alcoholic vagrant asked the King for some spare change and shot him in the back went the King refused to give him money. Wilhelm/ George died en route to the hospital, Alexandros died five days later after he 'accidentally' fell out of a window at police headquarters.



So kids let this be a lesson to you, if you find yourself the ruler of a European nation, remember to carry some change - it could save your life.


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.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Erin Go Bragh

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."



The Citizenry of Chicago is encouraged to drink cheap green beer early and often before St. Patrick's Day so the Chicago River can be dyed with their vomit.


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 congress with a prostitute.



Perhaps a fine way for a man to die, but not a very appropriate choice for the Bishop of Rome.


March 17, 1919 -
Nathaniel Adams Coles, the premiere singer and jazz pianist was born on this date.



In 1948, Nat King Cole purchased a house in the all-white Hancock Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. The property owners association told Cole they did not want any undesirables moving in. Cole retorted

"Neither do I. And if I see anybody undesirable coming in here, I'll be the first to complain."


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 good friend John was born. Not to be confused with his cousin, John, who was also born but not on this date.

March 17, 1970 -
My brother was 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.