Wednesday, February 17, 2010

It's that ash and sack cloth season again

Memento homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris (Remember that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return.)

So begins forty days of prayer, fasting, contemplation and community service and not the Lentil season, which is marked by forty days of legume eating and gas passing (but that's another story.)

Tip of the day - don't embarrass yourself by calling attention to the smudge mark on your friend's forehead today

February 17, 1958 -
Pope Pius XII declares Saint Clare of Assisi (1193~1253) the patron saint of television.

Given all the meager pittance I call a salary has come from my work in TV, having a saint you can pray to comes in handy.

February 17, 1967
Beatles released Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields on this date.

Brian Wilson
of The Beach Boys said that Strawberry Fields Forever was partially responsible for the shelving of his group's legendary unfinished album, SMiLE.

Today in History:
February 17, 1600 -
Roman philosopher and mathematician Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake at Campo di Fiore in Rome, likely because ecclesiastical authorities were alarmed at his rambling and somewhat insane ideas, coupled with rejection of accepted authority.

Exactly what the charges against him were are lost to history, but likely involve theological heresies rather than astronomical (just in case it comes up in conversation today.)

Celebrated French dramatist and comedian Moliere collapsed on stage and died on February 17, 1673. It is said that he was wearing green, and because of that, there is a superstition that green brings bad luck to actors. As an actor, he was not allowed by the laws of the time to be buried in the sacred ground of a cemetery. His wife Armande asked the king Louis XIV to allow a "normal" funeral celebrated at night. The king agreed, and Molière was buried in a part of the cemetery reserved for unbaptized infants.

In some accounts of his death, it is said that over 800 people attended his "secret" funeral.

A bomb exploded in the dining room of St. Petersburg's Winter Palace on February 17, 1880. Tsar Alexander II survived. Being late for supper, the Tsar was not harmed, although 67 other people were killed or wounded. The dining room floor was also heavily damaged.

While it is often said that promptness is the politeness of kings, sometimes being late can save you.

February 17, 1989 -
The cinematic masterpiece Bill And Ted's Excellent Adventure starring Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter opened in theaters.

We are getting old folks - Keanu is 45.

February 17, 1994 -
The decomposing corpse of Zviad Gamsakhurdia, first president of the Republic of Georgia, is exhumed from a temporary grave in Djikhaskari. His wife refuses an autopsy, but western journalists note a bullet wound in the side of Zviad's head. Officially listed as suicide, the wife also claims he was murdered. Another government minister oddly states the death was by cancer with the head shot administered post-mortem.

Note to self: don't seek cancer treatment in the Republic of Georgia or the state of Georgia, for that matter.

And so it goes.

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